John Paul II Relics: Not for Sale

Interview With Postulator of Cause

ROME, SEPT. 25, 2007 ( News that relics of Pope John Paul II are for sale through the Internet is entirely false, says Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the postulator of the Pontiff’s cause of beatification.

The relics have been made available to the public for free, but the selling of religious objects is a sacrilegious act, the priest told ZENIT in this interview.

Monsignor Oder began by saying: I would like to clarify that the distribution of objects or elements from objects belonging to candidates of the altar, to saints or blessed, is an ancient practice in the Church, and is something that accompanies every process of beatification together with the spreading of the knowledge of the spirituality and the life of the candidate to the altar. 

Holy cards are distributed, explaining how to pray for an intention and to ask for their intercession. And the same holds true for the process of the Servant of God John Paul II. These holy cards contain prayers. And pieces of his clerical clothing are distributed by the office of postulation; but we are speaking of an entirely free distribution.

Q: Why is the sale of relics considered sacrilegious?

Monsignor Oder: It is absolutely a sacrilege; it is something which goes against the tradition of the Church, and against logic, recalling what Jesus said: “What you have freely received, you must also freely give.” The sale of relics therefore would be offensive to God, to the saint or blessed, to the candidate to the altar.

Q: What is a relic? 

Monsignor Oder: Relics are part of the logic of the Incarnation, of concrete history. They are a sign of the presence of a saint in history. 

I like the expression used by Monsignor Marco Frisina, director of the Liturgical Office of the Vicariate of Rome, in an article we published in our bulletin Totus Tuus, which follows the process of beatification, and in which we have clarified the meaning of relics: When we touch the body of a saint we touch the temple of the Holy Spirit, when we touch an object that belonged to a saint we touch a monument of the presence of grace and God’s mercy in the life of that person. 

This is how we must view objects called relics, the memories, the things that remain of the life of the saint. They are the realities that hearken back to the work of grace in the life of the saint.

Q: [So you can give] a clear denial of the report on the sale of objects or fragments of objects that belonged to John Paul II?

Monsignor Oder: I am troubled by this and do not understand the reason for this report. A false report. I repeat: The sale of relics would be a sacrilege.

We have been distributing holy cards containing pieces of the vestments of the Holy Father John Paul II for some time now. People from all over the world have asked for hundreds of these holy cards. 

It is an activity that accompanies the process [of beatification] and expresses the great worldwide devotion to John Paul II — a great renown for holiness that accompanies this process.


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