Q. At this time of year, I get many unsolicited requests for donations. I have no problem ignoring most of them, but Iím conflicted about appeals that come with cards, medals, and other religious items. What am I supposed to do with those things? Do I have to send a donation because I received an item in the mail?
A. Solicitations for a religious purpose or some other purpose can all be understood in the same manner. It’s a solicitation, an invitation to you from an organization or another person to meet their needs. Any solicitation can be ignored, and there is no obligation to pay for any item that has been sent as part of the appeal. If you’re uncomfortable with throwing away the items that arrive in the solicitation, there’s usually a place in your parish or at the parish office where religious items can be recycled and put to good use.
Q. During the holidays I see many unfamiliar faces in church. Many of these people, whom I will never see until the next holiday, get in the Communion line and receive Holy Communion. Do I have an obligation to inform them that they should not be in line until they have received the sacrament of reconciliation?
A. The short answer is no. The long answer is that you have no obligation to police the church Communion line. The pastoral practice of the Catholic Church applies in these situations, and the pastoral practice is that people can’t assume they know or understand any other person’s conscience or relationship with Jesus. What you think you may know may not be the truth. Be concerned about your own spiritual practice and not the spiritual practice or any perceived lack of spiritual practice of your brother or sister.