From a reader:
I live next to a mission parish where I observed this past summer the
use of glass vessels. I brought this to the attention of the pastor, a
faithful, though unformed man, referencing GIRM & Sacramentum
Caritatis. He got around to ordering a silver communion cup months
later. [That’s good, right?] Knowing the malformation of the “sacristans” and the priests, I set aside all the glass vessels so that I could have Father send them back to the diocese for proper disposal. Sure enough, the pastor came to me asking for one (or possibly several) of the glass vessels back so that he could return them to the parishioner of the mission, ostensibly for use. I told him I had the intention of returning them to *him*/ the diocese, but that the glass vessels could not be used for non-sacred use, and they actually need to be disposed of respectfully. He balked at that assertion, half-responding that “maybe they’re going to put it in a [home] shrine.” A friend who’s a canon lawyer thinks there’s a canon (besides liturgical common sense) that says he cannot simply give away a liturgical appointment, and he needs to either 1) return it to the diocese, or 2) formally request permission to destroy/dispose from the diocese. When I give these back, I want to make it clear to him what the proper responsibility is, but if I can’t point to Church documentation, he tends to ignore me. If anything, say a prayer for me. Thank you!
Part of the problem here, as I see it, is that you are in the middle.
Also, I am glad that the priest was willing to obtain suitable vessels. That’s a plus, right?
After consultation with a canonist here is an opinion.
Sacred vessels can be alienated unless they are of artistic or historical value (cf. c. 1291) though they should not be sold. For example, a priest can leave his chalice in his will to his family, and something given to the Church for use can be returned to the donor.
Sacred vessels should not be used for sordid use, of course (c. 1171) and someone who does so is liable for a penalty (c. 1376), presuming that the vessels “are designated for divine worship by dedication or blessing.”
Were the chalices blessed? Or were they simply used? An argument can be made that a chalice is blessed simply by holding the Precious Blood, but that might not hold canonical water, as it were, especially when we talk about the application of penalties. Strict interpretation of the law is required.
That said, this whole situation needs to be sorted out. You are in the middle here and don’t really have a proper role. You don’t have the right to keep these vessels from the priest. The priest gets to make the judgment about how they are to be disposed, since he has oversight of the goods of the parish and it cannot be argued that these things are of great historical or artistic value. He can dispose of them.
But… wouldn’t it be sad if the priest had an accident with those glass things? I know of more than one macrame banner that went to its reward because someone (read = traditional priest/seminarian) accidentally got that candle flame just liiiiiitle too close. Glass vessels… gosh… they are soooo easily broken. Clay… glass… they sometimes fall and break! It happens! It’s all very sad, of course.
But it is consoling that the pieces can be swept up and thrown away without too much fuss.
In the meantime, I will here repost a photo I was sent a while back.
There are uses for glass vessels.