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.

82 responses

  1. This is an absolute disgrace. Pope Francis has no right to deny this man a funeral. Whatever happened to “Who am I to judge?”

  2. SSPX will have acted out of Charity, but it will not be viewed from that standpoint.

    A quiet funeral was almost impossible and both sides, fascist and anti-fascist, exploited it for their own ends. Secreting the body away would not have worked as it is clear that the hospital/morgue staff made disclosure as to the arrangements.

  3. The Church without doubt should have buried him. WE don’t know the circumstances of his death. Did he repent, did he make a confession to any Priest? Stephen Gately definitely didn’t because he died in a drunken stupor. Needless to say the Church should commend the souls of Gately and Priebke and any other public sinners to God, as the Archbishop of Berlin, Cardinal Von Preysing did with Hitler in 1945 after the latter’s suicide. Hitler could have repented when he pulled the trigger. How do we know these people didn’t say SORRY? We can never know. It is not up to us to say who is in Heaven, whatever our private views. I will commend any Muslim or Jewish leader’s soul to God. Save to say, it should be modest and not ostentatious, so as not to inflame tensions, and in the case of individuals such as Gately or Priebke, no family or friends should be permitted to speak, lest they glorify certain unsavoury aspects of one’s private life or political statements, which can be applied to the former and latter respectively, and cause scandal.

  4. Although….’other manifest sinners to whom a Church funeral could not be granted without public scandal to the faithful’. This could be pertinent given that Priebke was a mass murderer, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ and all that. Private Masses could have been held with family, in secret in lieu of a public funeral, with the Priest blessing the body in the mortuary beforehand.

    • Catholic Convert,

      A private Mass would not have been allowed either – I copied this from the article –
      “Canon 1185: Any form of funeral Mass is also to be denied to a person who has been excluded from a Church funeral”

      My understanding is that only public sinners at the time of their death are to be refused a funeral Mass. Anyone else, like Priebke should surely be presumed to have been to Confession and made amends? Otherwise, nobody who has ever been guilty of serious crimes in their life would be allowed a Catholic funeral and that cannot be right, surely?

      • I meant a private mass for Priebke’s family, not with Priebke’s body there. Just a Mass to commend his soul to God.

  5. One of the articles I read was quoting Fr. Abrahamowitz as an SSPX priest. Wasn’t he expelled from the Society a few years ago? I think he was.

  6. I would like the answer to a question that has bothered me for a long time. Why are lapsed Catholics allowed Catholic funerals? I say this knowing that many in my own family are lapsed but surely that is a form of “public sin”? It can be a cause of scandal especially since priests now give the impression that everyone is in heaven. It makes a mockery out of the Church. Somebody doesn’t bother with the Church during their lifetime but is given a Church funeral when they die – do these people not come under the heading “notorious apostates” (canon law) ?

  7. “The society, known for the anti-Semitic views of some of its members, celebrates the pre-Vatican II old Latin Mass. Where Priebke will be buried remains unresolved.”

    The above is a quote from the link given at the top of this thread. Why do ‘some of its members’ have anti-Semitic views? Have they forgotten that Our Lord was a Jew?

    At the risk of being castigated for my opinion, I think the authorities in Rome were correct in refusing Erich Priebke a Catholic funeral. He was a committed Nazi, an evil regime responsible for the annihilation of six million Jews and numerous others who did not conform to their evil ideology. Imagine, six million, that is like wiping out the population of Scotland and more. According to reports, Priebke expressed no remorse for his actions of mass murder.

    • Magdalene,

      One of the original four bishops of the SSPX, Bishop Richard Williamson, held extreme views (on a number of fronts) including his publicly aired doubts about the numbers of Jews who died in the holocaust. The Superior General of the Society (Bishop Fellay) gave him a number of warnings not to repeat his opinions and to stick to what he should be doing, teaching the Catholic Faith. He persistently disobeyed Bishop Fellay and was, in the end, expelled from the Society. Source. A small number of priests and laity shared his views and subsequently these formed a “resistance” group and are, effectively, no longer within the Society. They write and preach against the Society which they consider (don’t laugh) to be modernist – all because of Bishop Fellay’s talks with Rome which, at one point, we all hoped would lead to regularisation.

      So, it’s not “the Society” which is “known for the anti-Semitic views of some of its members” – that’s the spin put on the situation by the media, whether anti-Catholic or downright ignorant – I’m never quite sure. Those alleged “anti-Semites” are no longer part of the SSPX – and anyway, I don’t think it’s being “anti-Semitic” to question the numbers who died in the holocaust: the Jews themselves have changed the numbers more than once. At one point there was a sign in the memorial museum (Yad Vashem) claiming 4 million.

      It is curious that the holocaust is the one historical event which cannot be objectively studied and investigated without accusations of being “anti-Semitic” or “Jew-haters” – surely we should be interested enough to probe and ask questions? What if MORE than 6 million were killed – do you think there would be accusations of “anti-Semite” then?

      • Editor,

        Thank you for providing the information re the SSPX, Bishop Williamson and the breakaway group. I am glad Bishop Fellay took action.

        No matter the exact numbers, the Holocaust happened and Adolf Hitler and his murderous henchmen, and women, were responsible.

    • Magdalene,

      How do you know he was a committed Nazi? How do you know he enjoyed murdering those civilians? You cannot judge an individual’s actions until you have been in a similar situation. What would you do under duress or threats to your life? Joseph Ratzinger was conscripted into the Hitler Youth in 1941 and served in the German military from 1943 before deserting in 1945. He became Pope Benedict XVI. Was he a committed Nazi? No. Did he kill people? Not a clue. Is he evil, just in case he killed someone? Would you deny him a funeral.

      As for your comments regarding Christ being a Jew, he was a true Jew, as we are, because we are the legitimate successors to our forebears in the Old Testaments, as Christ fulfilled the Old Law. Modern day Rabbinical Judaism is false, and not true Judaism. It is not manmade, like Islam, and has Divine origins as we worship the same God, but they worship Him in a wrong way, because they do not have the Deposit of Faith like we do. Their beliefs about God are wrong because they contradict the Church’s truth. We have to pray for them, the Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Protestants etc, to bring them to the light of faith. True faith is only found in our church.

  8. Magdalene,

    How do you know he was a “Committed Nazi”? Yes, he served in the German army and received and carried out orders from seniors Nazis. However, this was almost 70 years ago. Is there any evidence that Priebke was a “committed Nazi” in latter years?

    You cannot deny someone a Catholic funeral for what they did 70 years ago. As for “expressing no remorse” – I wouldn’t believe everything you read in the Daily Record or The Sun. Priebke might well have been to Confession and expressed his remorse in the only forum that matters. Is it the case that unless you beat your breast on national TV and cry buckets in a courtroom then you are not showing remorse? Ridiculous.

    It seems like the Nazis are the only group left who can be demonised. Murdering six million Jews (if that was indeed the final number – no one can possibly know for certain) was horrific. However, the slaughter of millions of babies in their mothers’ wombs is more of an outrage. The politicians and doctors who have allowed this outrage to receive the State’s seal of approval are WORSE than the Nazis. 200,000 abortions take place in the UK every year. The worldwide figure is 40-50 million. This is a far greater scandal than the holocaust, yet so-called “Catholic” politicians receive Holy Communion and Catholic funerals every day.

    You cannot deny someone a funeral for something they did 70 years ago. It is outrageous to claim otherwise.

    • I read neither the Daily Record nor the Sun. I read Priebke’s obituary in the Times.

      The fact that his heinous crime was committed 70 years ago does not lessen his responsibility or guilt. He lived out his life, something which he denied to his victims.

      • Magdalene,

        If, as his lawyer indicated, Priebke has confessed his sins and been absolved… what then? You still believe he should be classed as a public sinner and denied a Catholic funeral?

        What then of those homosexuals who die while living (so to speak!) in civil partnerships – should they – as manifest public sinners – be allowed a Catholic funeral, as the examples given in the blog article were allowed?

        Seems to me that those who argue for a Catholic funeral for a repentant Nazi are to be labelled “anti-Semitic” while those who argue for partnered homosexuals to be denied a Catholic funeral (canon 1184 # 1) are to be labelled “homophobic”. One, it seems, cannot win!

        • Editor, why the homophobic ranting about homosexuals being given a catholic funeral, either in this comment or in the blog article?
          This simply proves your hate of homosexuals, your inability to practise Christian charity towards others and your constant prejudging of others whom you consider to be in disagreement.
          If this is an example of the Traditional Catholic view and life style, then it is no wonder that you are considered to be a malevolent and unjust woman. You do not promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ, no matter what ‘camp’ you claim to belong too.
          Your hateful comments are not acceptable in any way shape or form.
          You promote loyalty to a disgraceful and schismatic group in the name of the ‘Catholic Church’. You will be held to account before God for your disgraceful behaviour and the fact that you have led many more very gullible people into the serious errors of SSXP.
          Repent before it is too late to come before God and the throne of YOUR eternal judgement!!!!!!!.

          • Chardom,

            There’s an awful lot of judging in your post. Are you a homosexual? I’ve never known anyone who wasn’t to get so got and bothered about an issue that inflicts 1.5% of the population.

          • Chasdom,

            Are you a Catholic? It sounds like you support the homosexual movement, and have been successfully indoctrinated. Are you ‘gay’? Editor is not hateful or malevolent. She is an exemplary Christian who has done more that most to defend the teachings of Christ and His Holy Church. I wish I had half of her courage to do all of this. Homosexuals, particularly practising one’s should be denied funerals unless they confess it to a Priest on their deathbed. If I were a Priest and that happened, then by all means, I’d bury them, but Priebke asked for mercy and was shown mercy. Whether he is in Hell is God’s Judgement alone. Do you support gay marriage? If so, you are not a Catholic, if you ever were. Who are you to call Editor schismatic? You who supports the sodomite lobby and denies the truth of the Church, and she who supports all of the Magisterium and pledges undying loyalty to our Holy Father.

            • Homosexuals, particularly practising one’s should be denied funerals unless they confess it to a Priest on their deathbed.

              How would anyone know that they had? Obviously the priest can’t tell anyone. Since no-one would know the person had repented and been forgiven, how would that prevent the scandal that may arise from giving them a Catholic funeral?

              I think the best answer is to give the person a quiet Catholic funeral, with none of the disgraceful razzmatazz that accompanied Stephen Gately’s send off, nor the implicit approval of his lifestyle that featured in Paul Mc Bride’s funeral Mass.

              If ALL Catholic funerals focused as they should on praying for the person’s soul and reminding attendees that they too will die one day, this wouldn’t really arise. Such a funeral would be quite appropriate for anyone.

              • Eileenanne,

                If someone is openly living in either a homosexual partnership or as a cohabiting couple (i.e. not married) then that is a situation of manifest public sin.

                If someone is known to have lived in either of these situations in the past, but is not so at the time of their death, then we would presume confession/absolution/entitlement to a Catholic funeral.

                So, I’m sorry but your final paragraph is not true. No matter how faithful to the rubric the funeral may be, if the person being buried is known to have been living openly in a sexual relationship outside of marriage (cohabiting) or in a same-sex civil partnerships at the time of death, then that is a cause of immense scandal.

                I still remember the shock I felt on visiting the grave of a relative of mine, to note, as I wandered away from the graveside, another tombstone noting that X was the “partner” of Y etc. In a Catholic cemetery that is truly scandalous.

                Or maybe you disagree?

                • I think it might be even more scandalous if the idea got around that one had to somehow “deserve” a Catholic funeral. I still say the best plan is to have the correct focus, reminding the congregation that we will ALL need to be prayed for after our death, that death can come suddenly so we should all be prepared, and then offer prayers for the newly deceased. I think that could be done for anyone with no scandal. Had I been the priest who was asked to conduct the funeral for Steven Gately, I hope I would have refused all the nonsense that went on. I would have suggested gently to the family that maybe a private requiem mass, attended by those to whom that was important would be more appropriate, with the secular circus that actually happened in church consigned to the crematorium or some other place. Or, if I had felt for some reason that full Catholic rites were appropriate, I would have used the occasion to speak to the young people listening, many of whom will have few opportunites to hear Catholic teaching, about death and the hereafter and the importance of being ready when one’s time comes. Refusing a funeral to a notorious public sinner, is an opportunity missed to reach his associates before it is too late.

                  With regard to the Catholic cemetery, unless it is attached to a Church -and I am not aware of many Catholic Churches that have their own burial grounds- it is unlikely that the Church has much control over what goes on the headstones. In Glasgow at least the formerly church-owned cemeteries are now under council control, but yes, it isn’t great to see such things among Catholics.

                  • Eileenanne,

                    Pope John Paul II said that “by its very nature, Canon Law must be obeyed.”

                    It doesn’t sound great either, then, to find Catholics suggesting that manifest public sinners be allowed Catholic funerals.

                    For the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone living a counter-witness lifestyle, as do co-habitees and same-sex partners, would WANT a Catholic funeral. I just cannot understand their rationale.

                    • By the time the funeral takes place, I imagine the deceased will be acutely conscious that he needs parayers and will be grateful for the Mass offered as part of his funeral.

            • Catholic Convert,

              Thank you for your charitable words about my unworthy self, but please do not think of me as “an exemplary Christian” – I am very definitely no such thing. Just ask Chasdom and if he’s out try Nolite Timere. Nor do I have “courage” – my forthrightness comes naturally. It is in my nature to speak my mind and thus no courage is required. Indeed, there are many occasions, I readily and shamefully admit, when I should practise virtue by remaining silent or speaking in a more charitable manner.

              So, whilst I appreciate your kindness towards me, please do not place me on any level of pedestal. I will only fall off one of these days and then you will call me a hypocrite!

              On the other hand, if it’s a pay rise you’re after … it worked!

        • I still believe he should have been denied a Catholic funeral.

          I would not consider homosexuals to be in the same category as a mass murderer like Priebke. The Nazi regime murdered , homosexuals, gypsies, the disabled, Jews – anyone who did not conform to their evil, warped ideology.

          • Magdalene

            Murder is in a similar category to homosexual behaviour – sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance!

          • Magdalene,

            Does that mean you think this man should not or could not get into heaven?

            Does that mean that you do not believe that absolution wipes away the sin from our souls, even though we may still have some debt owing to be repaid in this life or in purgatory?

            I’ve never known any Catholic to say that a sinner is beyond redemption if they repented and confessed in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

  9. I think it is a disgrace the man was denied a funeral:

    “He died in the Rome home of his lawyer, Paolo Giachini, where he had been serving his life term under house arrest.

    Giachini has said he merely wanted a Catholic funeral for his client, whom he said had confessed his sins and been absolved.

    But the pope’s vicar for Rome, Cardinal Agostino Vallini refused him a church funeral, presumably on the grounds that it could create a public disturbance or allow the service to be used by other Holocaust-deniers to promote a political agenda.

    The move was highly unusual, but was done to take into account the remarkable outpouring of emotion that Priebke’s death has unleashed, particularly in Rome’s Jewish community.”

    His lawyer says he received the sacrament of confession, so surely he had been entitled to a funeral?

    Jewish anger is mentioned in the report above, but the BBC reported his arrest was linked to the murder of 300 Italian men and boys (presumably Catholics, at least nominally) – as a reprisal for Italian partisan activity – not Jews.

    It seems the Vatican acted based on what people might think, what the media would say, as opposed to acting only on what was relevant.

  10. To be honest I am sick to the back teeth of the Jews thinking they rule the world just because of the holocaust. About 1.5 million people died in the Great Famine in Ireland (which was exacerbated by a repressive regime) but you don’t see the Irish demanding this, that and the next thing. What a nerve!

    • Jews do rule the world. Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Paul Wolfowitz, Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Do those names mean anything to you?

  11. I should add as a caveat that I am not remotely anti-Semitic. In fact, I feel a certain affinity with the Jewish religion and it was, of course, the religion practised by Our Lord and Our Lady.

  12. I have read some nonsense on here before but some of the comments on this thread really take the proverbial.

    I bet the only reason some on here are decrying this decision is because the Vatican said no to the funeral. If the Vatican had allowed the funeral the very same people would be on criticising the decision.

    Lets get facts straight, this person was not a lowly soldier carrying out orders as Petrus has declared… he was an SS Captain. In one of his escapades he killed over 300 Italian men and boys (in 1944 Italian would ostensibly mean Catholic-and practising). God only knows what other atrocities this man perpetrated during those war years.

    The Nazi regime as I am sure you all are aware was not only anti-Semitic, but also anti-Catholic and basically Atheistic or even diabolically orientated. They were enemies of the Church, this man was an enemy of the Church.

    In the near 70 years since the war, not once did he ever apologise for his actions, and in recent years he even went as far as to deny the extent of the holocaust, does this sound like a man who is truly repentant ?

    Back to the Canon law argument on this matter:

    “Can. 1184 §1. Unless they gave some signs of repentance before death, the following must be deprived of ecclesiastical funerals:

    3/ other manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful”

    1184 .1 Did he show repentance….It seems not, in fact he did quite the opposite for the 70 years post war.

    1184.3 – was he manifest sinner – most definitely. Is there a risk of public scandal… yes – public scandal was evident with the protests.

    What other decision could the Church have come to ?????

    • Well, for a start, the Church could have come to a decision based on charity. This man has apparently been to Confession. So, Nolite Timere, do you believe that someone who has been to Confession and been absolved, should be denied a Catholic funeral? Think about the logical conclusion of what you are claiming.

      Who are we to judge how repentant this man was? All the Church requires is for us to Confess our sins to a priest and perform our penance.

    • Nolite Timere,

      “I have read some nonsense on here before but…”

      Would you quote me one or two examples of what you regard as “nonsense” from this blog in the past? Please and thank you.

      You say that Priebke showed no repentance in the past 70 years, quite the opposite in fact. Would you provide evidence? Frankly, I’d never heard of him before this story broke, so my assumption is that he (as his lawyer claims) went to Confession in repentance of his sins like any other Catholic.

      But, please do not take offence when I add that I have absolutely no memory of you coming on here to comment when we criticised the Archbishop of Glasgow for permitting the very public funeral of the partnered “gay”, Paul McBride. Now’s your chance to play catch-up – what did you think of that?

      Let me refresh your memory: at the very time when representatives (John Deighan and Peter Kearney) from the Catholic Media Office were appearing on almost every news bulletin decrying the Scottish Government for its plans to legalise same-sex marriage, Scotland’s First Minister was seated (right in front of our Catholic Truth reporter, as it happens) in St Aloysius church listening to the officiating priest expressing his sympathy for Gary, partner of Paul McBride on each and every occasion when he mentioned the parents of the deceased. I have no doubt that Alex Salmond had a hard time trying not to grin triumphantly. As our reporter said at the time, he knew he had nothing to fear from the Catholic Church in Scotland. The useful idiots who were parroting out the “party line” for public consumption were not speaking the mind of the bishops at all – and Salmond knew it on that day if not before. It wasn’t too long, either, before the rest of us found out as well – when the Cardinal O’Brien scandal hit the headlines, to be precise.

      So, tell us, Nolite Timere – is your ire reserved for us, in our concerns that a Nazi was denied a Catholic funeral due to the expressed fear of Church authorities that this would annoy the politically correct (euphemism: “create a disturbance”)? After all, we are not advocating that he be given a glorious send-off, merely repeating Catholic teaching that if we repent of our sins and try to make amends for them, they are absolved and we are restored to the life of grace, and therefore entitled to a Catholic burial. Or are you more annoyed that we are (yet again) refusing to go along to get along with the majority view?

      It will help us to understand why you criticise us so roundly in this matter when we have the answer to the following question: should Paul McBride have been given a Catholic funeral – yes or no?

  13. Dearest Ed

    For the moment I will refrain from clarifying my opening statement of the ‘nonsense’ on here as I do not want to needlessly misdirect this thread.

    Surely the emphasis in this case (given the horrific crimes) he committed should be concrete evidence of his repentance (not a lack of…as you have asked me to prove). This man had 70 years to repent, but the only things he has ever said publicly is that of holocaust denial and no remorse for his actions… Does this really sound like the actions of a truly repentant man attempting to live a good Catholic life?

    I’m not surprised you had never heard of this man, me either until the story broke, however that’s hardly surprising since his crimes took place in Italy and has been locked up(albeit under house arrest) there for a long time, the people of Rome and Italy certainly know who he is though!

    It’s rather unhelpful to discuss Paul McBride in this context, there is a huge difference between him and a nazi war criminal, who was an enemy of the Church and no doubt a persecutor of the Church.

    If he is truly repentant, then surely the lack of funeral rites won’t matter as in Charity God will welcome this lost Son home?

    Whats really going on here is simple the mainstream Church said no so SSPX found away of going against Rome (no surprise there) and the SSPX acolytes on here are once again using this a political football. Let me ask you Ed, if the mainstream Church had allowed the funeral and the SSPX then raised concerns about public scandal etc, would this thread be the same as it is or would you be highlighting how bad the modernist church is by allowing a manifest sinner and someone who tried to destroy the faith a public funeral?

    There seems to be a bit of subterfuge going on here, what you really know is that the SSPX have scored a huge own goal with this matter, any sympathy they had from members of the mainstream Chruch is dwindling fast and instead of being honest about that fact you are trying to defend the indefensible and trying to push the party line that the SSPX were correct in this course of action.

    • Nolite Timere,

      You refrain from meeting my challenge to post evidence of “nonsense” from this blog because there isn’t any. End of.

      As for your statement about our motives re. the SSPX – wrong: the SSPX did not have anything to do with this funeral. That was misreported, as the media acknowledged. Apparently some ex-SSPX priest made an offer to conduct a funeral, but he is not “the SSPX” so an apology for your false accusations of “subterfuge” against us is in order – but I won’t hold my breath. I didn’t even mention the SSPX in the blog article – the only reference to them as “a splinter group” is in the actual newspaper report which, as I say, later admitted that they were wrong.

      My position is simple: if you think any sin (beyond the sin against the Holy Ghost, as taught by the Church) is unforgiveable, then say so. In that case, the man is not entitled to a Catholic funeral because he committed grave sins/crimes in the past. If, however, you hold to the Catholic position of sins absolved restoring the life of grace, then you must admit to being biased against Nazis, whether or not they repent. In which case we all give thanks that you are not doing the judging on Judgment Day.

      As for your contention about Paul McBride – wrong. His case is directly comparable because Canon Law applies to public sinners – without distinction.

      Our Lady of Quito mentioned the coming scandal of corrupt morals in the context of marriage, but made no mention of war crimes. Interesting.

    • Nolite Timere,

      Is there a huge difference between a Mass murderer and an active homosexual? Both are sins crying out to Heaven for Vengeance!

      • Whistleblower you are correct they both are indeed sins that cry to heaven. However comparing them is like comparing apples and oranges…a fruitless exercise.

        In this example the man concerned was guilty of mass murder (over 300 hundred innocent souls that we are aware of, probably more) and no doubt the persecution of the Church.

        An active homosexual endangers their own soul.

        I would say that is a huge difference

        Dearest Ed
        In this case you are mistaken my dear…the funeral was scheduled for an SSPX chapel.

  14. Just for the record: the body of mr. priebke was taken onto a property in albano laziale, on whose gates are engraved the words: Fraternita’ S. Pio X

    • Duca Valentino,

      Thank you for that information – does that mean that the priests of the Society (not the expelled priest) conducted this man’s funeral? Are you able to verify for us that the Society is, indeed, to be credited with this act of charity? (I’m taking Priebke’s lawyer at his word that he repented, confessed and received absolution – in which case there is no reason for him being denied a Catholic funeral. It is, rather, to the shame of the diocesan authorities that they care more about public opinion than about this man’s soul.)

      • Press release from the official website of the Fraternità (see The Fraternità San Pio X has received a request from the relatives of Mr. Erich Priebke to celebrate the funeral of the controversial former German officer, who was sentenced by the Italian justice system for his role in the atrocious massacre at the Fosse Ardeatine.
        A baptized Christian who has received the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist, whatever his faults and sins, has the right to a Requiem Mass and Christian burial if he dies reconciled with God and the Church.
        We hereby declare our rejection of any form of anti-Semitism and racial hatred. The Catholic religion is a religion of mercy and forgiveness. END OF QUOTE. The press release continues for a few lines, but this is the essence of the communication.

        Press release of ANSA, the Italian press agency: The funeral of Erich Priebke has been celebrated at the Fraternità San Pio X, Albano Laziale. ANSA received confirmation of this from a spokesperson of Fr. Pierpaolo Petrucci, the Superior of the Fraternità: The liturgical celebration has already taken place. Priebke died as a Catholic and repentant sinner. We have also found the documents. He received the sacrament of Penance. He repented publicly before God and men, therefore he died a Christian and had the right to such a funeral”.

        Hope this helps!

    • Jon,

      Presumably if he had a Catholic funeral, he’d have been given a Catholic grave.

      Now, I suppose, all that remains is for us all to do what Catholics always do for the deceased – pray for his early release from Purgatory…

      • According to the ANSA press agency, the coffin of the late Mr. Priebke is still being held at the Italian Air Force Base of Pratica di Mare (near Rome). Will keep you informed as the story develops.

  15. Press release from the official website of the Fraternita’: the Fraternita’ San Pio X has received a request from relatives of Mr. Erich Priebke to celebrate the funeral of the controversial former German officer, who was sentenced by the Italian justice system for the atrocious massacre at the Fosse Ardeatine. A baptized Christian who has received the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist, whatever his sins and faults, has the right to a Requiem Mass and Christian burial if he dies reconciled with God and the Church. We hereby declare our rejection of any form of anti-Semitism and racial hatred. The Christian religion is a religion of mercy and forgiveness. END OF QUOTE. The press release continues for a few lines, but this is the essence of the communication. See Hope this helps!

  16. Press release from the Italian Press Agency ANSA: the funeral of Erich Priebke was celebrated in private at the Fraternita’ San Pio X, in Albano Laziale. Ansa received confirmation of this from a spokesman of Fr. Pierpaolo Petrucci, the Superior of the Fraternita’ lefebrviana: “Priebke died as a repentant Catholic. We also found the documents. He received the sacrament of Penance and publicly repented before God and men. He therefore died a Christian and had a right to such a funeral”.

    • That is wonderful news. How terrible if he had died unrepentant. We should rejoice that God’s grace reaches even the most wicked of sinners when they turn to him. May he rest in peace.

        • Magdalene,

          I hope I’m misinterpreting your comment about praying for the victims of Priebke (of course that is a good thing to do) because it makes me think you would not pray for the soul of the deceased.

          This would suggest that you are of the opinion that he cannot or should not be forgiven for his terrible crimes and sins.

          As I say, I do hope I’m wrong because such an attitude is (literally) hateful and contrary to our duty to “love our enemies”.

          Christ told us that there is more rejoicing in Heaven over one repentant sinner than over 99 righteous who have no need of such forgiveness. God loves Priebke as He loves you and every other soul and He longed for his repentance even as he was committing his heinous crimes. We, too, then, should rejoice at his conversion.

          I remember our conversation about the new Mass and your shock at learning something of its history. The key problem with the new Mass is the loss of Catholicity – its authors publicly stated that they sought to “strip the Mass of anything that would offend Protestants” – and in various way we see the results of this loss of Catholicity among Catholics.

          I’ll be reporting on one shocking example of this in our December newsletter, but perhaps your apparently unforgiving attitude to this war criminal turned repentant Catholic, is another. More and more, we see Catholics adopting the same attitudes to all sorts of things as others in secular society, taking the politically correct line, partly – I am sure – because of the lack of spiritual resources since the introduction of the new Mass.

          I’ve noted, Magdalene, that you humbly reflect on replies to your posts, that, maturely and in true charity, you do not take offence and thus I am confident that, on reflection, you will come to see that, while not at all condoning or minimising the gravity of Priebke’s appalling war crimes, the only acceptable Catholic response to his public repentance is to pray for the repose of his soul.

          • As I said, Editor, I will pray for Erich Priebke’s victims.

            I am fully aware of my many shortcomings and will answer only to God for them.

            • Dearest Ed

              If he had confessed and received absolution, thus returning him to a state if grace. Logically it follows that following a period of purgatory this soul would go to heaven.

              Would you agree with this?? Would that be the sort of heaven you would like to be in?

              • If he received the Last Rites, he would have received a plenary indulgence at the moment of death which would remove the need for purgatory.

                • Eileenanne,

                  We were always taught to pray for the dead as if they are in Purgatory. We don’t know how God judges a soul and we wouldn’t want to presume anything – so better to pray for the repose of the deceased.

                  • Yes of course, but if the person has received the Sacraments in anticipation of imminent death, there is good reason to believe that purgatory will be unnecessary.

                    • I sincerely hope you’re right. I’m making the nine First Fridays to tighten up the likelihood that I will receive Extreme Unction at the end, so I’m not going to fight you on this one!

              • Nolite Timere,

                I am absolutely convinced that I am misinterpreting your closing question – you surely are not suggesting that Priebke should not be admitted to Heaven?

                Our Lord is desperate for the soul of every sinner. We are ALL sinners, to whatever extent. If we understood the gravity of even the smallest sin, we would not be so quick to condemn any soul to Hell.

                Listen, if I’d been introduced to Priebke during his lifetime, I’d have delivered a tongue-lashing that would have made him thankful that Hitler was his boss, not moi. But, I must desire his salvation, as Christ desired it. Do you know what St Cyprian once said about God’s mercy? He said this: that it is as if – when a most dreadful sinner is on his deathbed, unrepentant and determined to remain so, it is as if God has his ear to that man’s lips to hear the faintest sigh of regret, of sorrow for his sins.

                No Catholic can wish any sinner in Hell – that is, in itself, a grave sin. (It’s not a “shortcoming” Magdalene, it’s a grave sin – the ultimate lack of charity).

                Nolite – tell me you did not mean to say that I, you, we, whoever, would not want to be in “the sort of heaven” that would house Priebke. Tell me.

                Although for the record, let me tell you that I’ll be happy with any sort of heaven at all – just let me in those pearly gates and I’ll settle down in a corner and not annoy anyone. Not even the bishops, if there are any around…!

                • Editor,

                  “No Catholic can wish any sinner in Hell – that is, in itself, a grave sin. (It’s not a “shortcoming” Magdalene, it’s a grave sin – the ultimate lack of charity).”

                  With respect, Editor, I did not at any time say that I wished Erich Priebke in Hell. You are jumping to erroneous conclusions and attributing statements to me which are not true.

                  What I said was that I would pray for his many victims (who were unlikely to have been given the opportunity to confess their sins to a Priest and receive absolution as we are lead to believe Priebke was) and for their families who must have suffered and are still suffering the agony, anguish and torment of having their loved ones torn from them and murdered by this man and his cohorts.

                  You mention the “ultimate lack of charity” – apart from Nolite Temere, I see no mention on this blog of concern for his victims and their families. The concern seems to be more for a Nazi murderer.

                  My compassion will always and at all times be for victims and for that I do not apologise.

                  • Magdalene,

                    You may not have said that you wish Priebke in Hell but you have not answered this question from me above:

                    I wrote:

                    I hope I’m misinterpreting your comment about praying for the victims of Priebke (of course that is a good thing to do) because it makes me think you would not pray for the soul of the deceased.

                    This would suggest that you are of the opinion that he cannot or should not be forgiven for his terrible crimes and sins. END.

                    Personally I’d have rushed to insist that, of course, I would pray for the soul of the deceased and of course I think he should be forgiven for his terrible crimes and sins (as we all seek forgiveness for our transgressions.)

                    That you have not provided any such reassurance, Magdalene, leaves, unfortunately, a question mark over your attitude to this man’s salvation, which God desires every bit as much as He desires yours.

                    As for your repeated references to Priebke’s victims and their families and the lack of concern from me/us which you perceive towards them – the reason for that is simple; nobody ever went to Hell for being a victim or for being related to a victim. The person in all of this who, in supernatural terms, requires our prayers arguably most urgently, is the (albeit repentant) murderer.

                    Of course we care about the victims and their families – I have no difficulty saying that, and promising to remember them in prayer. You, on the other hand, appear to have a great deal of difficulty saying that you will pray for God’s mercy on the soul of this notorious Nazi war criminal.

                    • Editor,

                      “That you have not provided any such reassurance, Magdalene, leaves, unfortunately, a question mark over your attitude to this man’s salvation, which God desires every bit as much as He desires yours.”

                      I am not obliged to provide you with reassurance about anything you choose to misinterpret. I reiterate: I am answerable to God and to God alone and not to anyone on this website who elevates themselves to the position of God.

                  • Magdalene,

                    “I am not obliged to provide you with reassurance about anything you choose to misinterpret. I reiterate: I am answerable to God and to God alone and not to anyone on this website who elevates themselves to the position of God.”

                    Well, this is a forum for discussion. Asking you a perfectly obvious question in the context of a particular topic – funeral rites for a Nazi war criminal – is hardly “elevating myself to the position of God”.

                    Readers will draw their own conclusions, of course, but I am disappointed in your unkind interpretation of a perfectly innocent question.

                    • And I, Editor, am disappointed in your rash judgment and attempt to bear false witness by attributing to me statements which were untrue.

                      As to readers drawing their own conclusions, they are perfectly at liberty to do that.

                      Its God’s judgment and His alone that is important to me.

                    • I haven’t made any rash judgements. I only asked a question which you refuse to answer. It’s not a “rocket science” question, either – it’s a very basic question. Your response is akin to a Maths teacher accusing a pupil of trying to catch her out because pupil asks if teacher agrees that 2 + 2 = 4.


  17. Ed,

    Wasn’t it Monsignor Bugnini who wanted to strip the Mass of it’s Catholicity and make it ‘accessible’ to Protestants? Why did he care about what Protestants think? Over 50 years the Pope and his minions have all but eradicated the beauty of our faith, and it is only because Mons. Lefebvre that tradition survives. No Lefebvre, no SSPX, no Summuorum Pontificum, no FSSP. I believe that Summuorum Pontificum was intended to weaken the SSPX. If that was the plan, it failed.

    • Catholic Convert,

      Yes, Archbishop Bugnini said:

      “We must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren that is for the Prostestants.” – Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, main author of the New Mass, L’Osservatore Romano, March 19, 1965. Source

  18. Thanks Ed, I thought that’s what Bugnini said. I am personally amazed that all the Marian prayers weren’t suppressed, because if Bugnini was driving at stripping our prayers from their Catholicity, then what’s more Catholic than praying to Mary? Protestants (most of them) reject Marian devotion. I would say that that was a pretty major ‘stumbling block’. Indeed didn’t Paul VI say that the Rosary was only fit for ‘the poor, the illiterate and the blind’? Gee thanks. My Parish has ‘ecumenical’ prayer meetings, which I refuse to attend, but I’m seriously considering going to one and saying a Hail Mary for their conversion. I can tell you what would happen: the Methodist minister would die, the Anglican vicar would have a mental breakdown and my Priest would come out in boils. With ecumenism it is a very Protestant affair, there is no respect or pride in Catholicism. What is more it is dangerous because it encourages relativism, and the erroneous belief that we are all one of many.

    • Catholic Convert,

      If you read the article in the Thinking Through Catholic Truth section of the current newsletter (see website) you will find an article on the Rosary, taken from a pamphlet by Christopher Ferrara on the new Rosary. In there, Ferrara points out that one of the changes proposed was that only the biblical portion of the Hail Mary (first part) be said during most of the decades – I forget the details, but every so many, we may say the whole Hail Mary. Crackers. Worth reading. Although the new Rosary is attributed to (a very ill at the time) Pope John Paul II, its history can be traced back to Bugnini – so he didn’t leave the Rosary/Hail Mary alone, at all. He just didn’t succeed in getting his changes through at the time. Mission accomplished now.

      Your “Gee thanks” made me smile – what a mess: how much grace our good God must be putting into your soul, to make you wish to continue with your instructions in the Faith. I hope you will post the date of your reception into the Church so we can welcome you, big time!

  19. What nonsense, the man confessed and then after his death released a statement claiming the holocaust never took place – hardly a firm purpose of amendment.

    • Neri,

      You really should go on an assertiveness course.

      Any chance you could provide us with a link to some documentary evidence of that? Not that it’s a mortal sin to deny an historical event, more a sign of idiocy, but, still, I’m interested.

  20. Latest (and probably the last) installment on the Priebke case: he will be buried in a secret location (certainly not in Rome or its province, as this has been expressly forbidden by the state authorities). The family have now asked for silence to fall on the entire matter.

  21. Ed

    Unfortunately you are not misinterpreting my last question. This is a question that I have really struggled with and still do.

    I completely understand that our Lord is desperate for all our souls, and that his Sacrifice was for all sinners…me included, but I really do struggle with the idea that someone so evil could be admitted to the joy of heaven.

    Why bother going to Mass, why try to live a good life, why not just do whatever I want no matter how immoral…. I can just recant on my deathbed and get I heaven eventually?

  22. Nolite Timere,

    Unbelievably, I’ve just lost a lengthy post I’d written in reply to yours at 7.15pm. I am stunned at my own carelessness in not saving it as I went along – was just about the press the “post comment” button, too, when it disappeared. I can be such an idiot. Say nothing…

    I do remember that I began by very much admiring your honesty. I’ll be back with the gist of my pearls of wisdom later, about this great mystery of our Faith, regarding “last minute” salvation. Apologies for delayed response.

    I have to be elsewhere right now but will return to this asap.

    Much Later – in the wee sma’ hours of the next day…

    Sorry, again, Nolite – I was caught up in various things, including having to compose, fairly rapidly, a new thread on Fatima, following information passed to me (!) by an English reader or several.

    Tomorrow I have a number of appointments but replying to your very thoughtful post on this very difficult (for us humans) subject, is my blog priority now. As long as Pope Francis doesn’t register to ask me something! (Like, have I ever thought of jumping off the Erskine Bridge!)

  23. Nolite Timere,

    “I completely understand that our Lord is desperate for all our souls, and that his Sacrifice was for all sinners…me included, but I really do struggle with the idea that someone so evil could be admitted to the joy of heaven.

    Why bother going to Mass, why try to live a good life, why not just do whatever I want no matter how immoral…. I can just recant on my deathbed and get I heaven eventually?”

    I think the problem we have in accepting the truth that even the most evil sinner who repents will gain salvation is because we forget that salvation is a free gift of grace – it comes from God in His infinite mercy and not as a result, either of our efforts or of a God who is somehow so kind and merciful that He is easily fooled or so desperate to save souls that anyone gets in. If only!

    Obviously, and Our Lord makes this clear, to conform our lives to God’s will, we must live according to His Commandments and in fidelity to the divinely given authority of His Church, but to do that, itself requires our response to God’s grace. We “bother going to Mass, try to live a good life etc” because that is God’s will and we do so as a result of His freely given grace.

    To query why we go to Mass and try to live a good life when “I can just recant on my deathbed and get to heaven eventually” is to forget a number of things, among them the fact that we would not be truly happy living in opposition to God in the fond hope of “” and it’s a very risky strategy, to say the least. Why? Well…

    Firstly, God is not fooled. Nobody who merely says “sorry” on their deathbed (or anywhere else) is going to be thus saved. Only genuine repentance will work. And the harder our hearts become, as we live a life which excludes God, the less likelihood there is of a genuine act of repentance when faced with death. Anyone who is living in that mentality is very seriously risking Hell on a number of fronts – not least the sheer cheek of it! God is not fooled. Doesn’t work that one, or I’d try it myself!

    Secondly, who knows if we’ll have the luxury of a deathbed? We may find ourselves being judged after an accident, heart attack, whatever. It’s being so cheerful as keeps me going, as they say south of the border…

    Thirdly, it is a mistake to think of an horrendous sinner such as a Nazi war criminal, guilty of evil crimes, “getting away with it” so to speak, because of a deathbed conversion (which may only be an alleged conversion, remember – God sees the heart and only He knows who has genuinely repented) but, whatever the appearances, even in the case of a genuine last minute repentance and conversion, God’s justice will be satisfied. The General Judgment is going to be a very interesting experience, where ALL of our sins will be laid bare and we will see for ourselves, first hand, God’s infinite and profound justice and mercy. We published something on this subject from a traditional priest once in the newsletter, where he pointed out that none of us will be embarrassed or upset by the exposition of our sins at the General Judgment, because the purpose of the General Judgment is to reveal God’s perfect justice and mercy. That made sense to me. Whoever is in heaven will not be there because they were perfect or even, perhaps,very good in this world, but because, by the workings of His grace, God has brought them to genuine repentance and, in whatever mysterious ways He chooses, amends have been made to satisfy His justice.

    I think we need to remember a couple of instances in Scripture which help us comprehend this truth about the salvation of people who have lived evil lives and yet may be saved.

    The first example is, of course, the thief on the cross who, knowing his crimes, recognised that he had not time to make up for his sinful life and that he could only be saved if Jesus accepted his plea for mercy – a cry from the heart which Our Lord accepted because it was authentic. The “Good Thief” really was sorry for his sins and, note, during his conversation with Christ on the Cross, he fulfilled the requirements of a good sacramental confession: he admitted his sins, expressed his contrition, and pointed out that they (the thieves) deserved their crucifixion, thus accepting his “penance”: the elements are there: confession, contrition, reparation. Followed by Christ’s promise of salvation, that very day. It’s a beautiful reminder of the power of the Sacrament of Penance.

    The other example is that of the vineyard owner who paid the same money to the workers who came very late in the day, as he paid to those who had worked from early morning, all the day long. The hard workers who had slogged all day were not slow to grumble at their employer’s generosity -and that is like us when we question why we have to attend Mass, live a good life, keep the commandments etc. only to find that the deathbed convert gets into heaven anyway. We forget that we are saved solely through God’s grace, freely given to us and that all those things we do, both spiritual and temporal, are not what saves us. Far from begrudging sinners their deathbed conversion, we should praise God for giving us the grace of our beautiful Catholic Faith – a hundred thousand times preferable to the risk of a visit to the website of

    Not sure if all of this is clear, Nolite Timere – I’ve been out all day and am typing this (with frequent saves!) at a very fast speed in order not to extend the unfortunate delay caused by losing my post last night.

    If it’s not clear and you still have questions, please let me know and I’ll try again. Or maybe someone else will fill any gaps missing here.

    God bless.