Disposing of religious articles



Q. What is the proper way to dispose of the medals, rosaries, small crucifixes, etc., that many Catholic organizations mail out unsolicited? (I have enough of everything!) (Atlanta)

A. Perhaps surprisingly, church law on disposing of blessed articles of devotion is not very specific. Canon 1171 of the church's Code of Canon Law says simply that "sacred objects, which are designated for divine worship by dedication or blessing, are to be treated reverently." Traditionally, when no longer usable or wanted, they are buried or burnt.

But the articles to which you refer -- which arrive unsolicited -- have presumably not been blessed at all. Therefore, you are free to dispose of them as you wish.

What I do personally, when they have begun to accumulate, is to send them to an organization such as the Propagation of the Faith, which can use them for missionary work in foreign lands. Or, as an alternative, you could simply leave them at the entrance to a church, to be taken by anyone who might want them.

But please don't feel that you are duty-bound to do either of these; you never asked to receive these objects, and you are free to dispose of them as you would any unwanted mail.

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Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at askfatherdoyle@gmail.com and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.