Rosaries on Necks

Q. I see a lot of people wearing rosaries around their necks. I was taught as a child that that is very irreverent and a sin. Could you please tell me what the teaching of the church is on this?

M.C., via e-mail

A. Here is a reply from Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:

There is no Church teaching about wearing rosaries around your neck, nor have I seen that custom very often. At most you might see it during World Youth Days, but it’s usually a fad, and I don’t think it’s entirely bad. After all, monks and nuns sometimes wear large rosaries from their cinctures or belts as part of their habit, and no one seems to object to that.

The only reference I could find to this would be Canon 1171 on sacramentals: “Sacred objects, set aside for divine worship by dedication or blessing, are to be treated with reverence. They are not to be made over to secular or inappropriate use, even though they may belong to private persons.” So, if a rosary has been blessed, it should be treated with reverence. I think you could wear a rosary in a reverential way. But if the person who wears the rosary never prays the Rosary, what’s the use?