Skip to comments.Who can have a Catholic funeral?
Posted on 08/27/2009 5:30:19 AM PDT by NYer
Some people might be wondering -- especially in light of the death of Ted Kennedy.
My understanding has always been that every baptized Catholic, with few exceptions, has the right to a Catholic burial. But, of course, there are nuances and gray areas. And exceptions can often be a matter of personal opinion or prudential judgment.
Zenit, as fate would have it, posted this primer from Canon Law just a few days ago:
The Church is usually generous toward the deceased, within limits.I'm sure that doesn't cover everything. But it's a very good start for those curious about this sort of thing.
First, we must distinguish between offering a funeral Mass and celebrating a Mass whose intention is the eternal repose of a particular soul.
Since the latter is basically the private intention of the priest, albeit offered at the request of a particular person, and since there are practically no limitations as to whom we may pray for, almost any intention can be admitted. In cases that might cause scandal, especially if the person were denied a funeral Mass, it would not be prudent to make this intention public.
A funeral Mass on the other hand is basically a public act in which the Church intercedes for the deceased by name. A funeral Mass is one which uses the formulas found in the Roman Missal and the ritual for funerals. Some of these formulas may be used even if the deceased's body is not present.
Because of its public nature the Church's public intercession for a departed soul is more limited. A funeral Mass can be celebrated for most Catholics, but there are some specific cases in which canon law requires the denial of a funeral Mass.
Canons 1184-1185 say:
"Canon 1184 §1. Unless they gave some signs of repentance before death, the following must be deprived of ecclesiastical funerals:In fact, these strictures are rarely applied. In part, this is because many sinners do show signs of repentance before death.
1/ notorious apostates, heretics, and schismatics;
2/ those who chose the cremation of their bodies for reasons contrary to Christian faith;
3/ other manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful.
"§2. If any doubt occurs, the local ordinary is to be consulted, and his judgment must be followed.
"Canon 1185. Any funeral Mass must also be denied a person who is excluded from ecclesiastical funerals."
Likewise, the canons are open to some interpretation. In No. 1184 §1 notorious would mean publicly known. Therefore someone who had abandoned the faith and joined some other group would be denied a funeral; someone who harbored private doubts or disagreements would not.
Cases of those who choose cremation for reasons contrary to the faith are extremely rare and are hard to prove (see the follow-up in our column of Nov. 29, 2005).
The most delicate cases are those in No. 1184 §1.3. Many canonists say that for denial of a funeral the person must be both widely known to be living in a state of grave sin and that holding a Church funeral would cause scandal.
About a year ago in Italy the Church denied an ecclesiastical funeral for a nationally known campaigner for euthanasia who requested and obtained the removal of his life-support system. In this case the request for a funeral for someone who was only nominally Catholic was in itself a publicity stunt for the organization behind the campaign. Likewise, someone subject to excommunication or interdict (for example, a Catholic abortionist) would be denied a funeral.
Given the severity of the requirements for denial of an ecclesiastical funeral, people in irregular marriages and suicides should not usually be denied a funeral. In such cases denial of the funeral is more likely than not to be counterproductive and cause unnecessary misunderstanding and bitterness. The Church intercedes for the soul and leaves final judgment to God.
Fly the body in, shoot up the helicopter blades, fire into the air while dragging the body through the streets, watching people keel over wounded from the bullets raining back down and conclude by throwing the body into a hole in the street and covering it up as quickly as possible.
It is my understanding that you can have a Catholic burial as long as you haven’t been formally excommunicated by the Church and didn’t have the excommunication revoked. As in Post #2, the priest performs a Mass of Catholic burial because no one knows what reparations the deceased made before dying except God or his/her confessor.
“Cases of those who choose cremation for reasons contrary to the faith “
Wonder what that is. The Catholic Church allows cremations now, so how does this fit in?
Cases of those who choose cremation for reasons contrary to the faith
“Wonder what that is. The Catholic Church allows cremations now, so how does this fit in?”
Pouring gasoline on yourself and lighting a match...
The world we live in now allows Pelosi to challenge the pope that abortion isn't settled theology. I'm still wondering why she wasn't put on the rack to explain catholic dogma to her.
History has proven that in RC it doesn't matter how corrupt or evil you are, or what you have done just so long as you or your relatives have the money to pay up and grease the skids and palms of those in power within the RC church. This also holds true for marriage annulments; just ask Teddy, or Al Capone... oh you can't, they are is still dead.
This also holds true for taking communion, you can be a powerful RC politician and kill (Teddy boy) or support the murder of unborn MILLIONS for years and "the church" will perpetually give you a pass and let you partake... just so long as they continue to get their cut and their influence. Just ask Kerry, Dean, Pelosi, etc...
I certainly hope Teddy reconciled with God before his death and had a true general confession. That's between him and God. May God have mercy on his soul.
But the name of the wicked will rot." (Proverbs 10:7)
You're correct. In the case of Ted Kennedy, we do know the name of his confessor.
Actually the Catholic Church dissuades cremation. However, in those instances where the individual has chosen cremation, the funeral mass is to take place before the cremation, not afterwards.
While the Church still prefers full body burial or entombment, after the manner of Christ's own burial, out of respect for the human body and belief in the Resurrection, cremation may be chosen in exceptional circumstances for "sufficient reason." Here are some general considerations to keep in mind when facing the question of cremation:
Cremation may be requested for hygienic, economic or other reasons of a public or private nature. Some examples would be: transfer of the remains to a distant place, possible avoidance of considerable expense, national tradition or custom, a severe psychological or pathological fear of burial in the ground or a tomb.
The selection of cremation must have been the specific choice of the individual before death.
Cremation, however, may also be requested by the family of the deceased for what also might be determined good and/or pastoral reasons that can be accommodated. (An obvious instance would be the case of a family's desire to transfer the remains to a distant place.)
According to current guidelines of the Archdiocese of Seattle, the priest, whose responsibility it is to perform the funeral, must determine that the reasons for choosing cremation are within those recognized by the Church.
When cremation is seen as an acceptable alternative to the normal manner of Catholic burial, the various elements of the funeral rite should be conducted in the usual way and, normally, with the body present.
The ordinary practice of Christian burial includes the Vigil Service, the celebration of the Funeral Mass at the Church, and the Rite of Committal at the cemetery.
Although all the elements of the Funeral Rite have importance, priority should be given to the celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy with the body of the deceased present.
In March 1997 the Vatican granted the dioceses of the United States an indult – that is, an exception for pastoral reasons – to permit the cremated remains of the body to be present at the Funeral Mass. Guidelines in the Archdiocese of Seattle leave the decision to allow cremated remains at the Funeral Mass to the individual pastor.
“I suspect the real reason Ted Kennedy’s funeral Mass is being help in Massachusetts is that the Bishop of DC may have insisted on a low-key funeral Mass that had no Obama eulogy.”
don’t know and don’t care...
for Kennedy’s sake, I hope he made a good Confession before he “checked out”...
Maybe I missed it. Who is his confessor?
So if I get cremated and sprinkled over the library and the college and the river....that's gonna put a kink in my "E ticket" to Heaven? Oh well, I'm positive I'll have plenty of years in Purgatory to get over it! I'll stop and say Hi and a few other things (which will of course add more Purgatory time) to Teddy when (if) I see him.
We don't know if it expressed any contrition, and of course it falls short of a public repentance simply because it is private.
But, since Ted was not excommunicated, the question of a funeral Mass should not even arise.
We should pray for his soul.
In short, any attempt to use cremation as an expression of a disbelieve or even denial of the resurrection of the body is discouraged. That includes scattering the remains, or any other gestures of disrespect to the deceased or to God.
Historically, cremation was promoted often with such atheistic overtones, so the Church at the time was more strongly opposed to cremation than she is now, when cremation is typically chosen for economic reasons.