Catholic Funerals – Who Is Eligible?

Shouting “murderer” and “executioner,” hundreds of people jeered as the coffin of Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke arrived Tuesday for a funeral Mass celebrated by a splinter Catholic group opposed to the Vatican’s outreach to Jews.

Since Priebke’s death on Friday at age 100, debate has raged over what to do with his remains. Pope Francis’ vicar for Rome refused him a funeral in a Catholic Church and Rome’s police chief backed him up, citing concerns for public order.  Read more - note: the funeral was eventually called off after protesters blocked the route.

This is all very interesting, given the several reports in Catholic Truth about very public funerals for known “gays” living in civil partnerships.  From the funeral in Dublin of the pop star Stephen Gately, whose “husband” was recognised in church to Paul McBride, the well known Glasgow lawyer whose “gay” partner, Gary, was also mentioned by the officiating priest every time he expressed his sympathy for Mr McBride’s parents  – and this in St Aloysius Jesuit Church, in the city centre, in the presence of top politicians, including Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, during the national debate on proposed legislation in favour of same-sex marriage.

Canon Law is very clear: Church funeral rites are to be denied to the following, unless they gave some signs of repentance before death:

Canon 1184 # 1

1.   notorious apostates, heretics and schismatics

2.  those who for anti-Christian motives chose that their bodies be cremated

3.  other manifest sinners to whom a Church funeral could not be granted without public
scandal to the faithful  

Canon 1184 # 2

If any doubt occurs, the local Ordinary is to be consulted and his judgement followed

Canon 1185

Any form of funeral Mass is also to be denied to a person who has been excluded from a Church funeral

So, were the authorities in Rome who forbade a Catholic funeral in the case of  the Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke right to do so?  And were the Archbishops of Dublin and Glasgow right to permit public Catholic funeral rites for partnered homosexuals?

Pope Francis wants us to “make a mess” in our dioceses.  Well, the application of Canon Law in the matter of Catholic funerals definitely IS a mess. Perhaps you think we should make a real mess by demanding the proper application of Canon Law – not a selective application as appears to be the case at the present time.  Tell us your thoughts.

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