Galloway Diocese is training up laity to carry out funeral services without a priest.
Last week the first lay Catholics attended funeral training at St Brides in West Kilbride in Ayrshire.
The scheme is similar to one adopted by Liverpool Archdiocese in 2012.
The family of the deceased would still be offered a requiem Mass (right) with a priest but a ‘funeral service,’ which could be carried out by a lay person and would not involve the sacrament of Communion, would also be an option.
In a recent parish bulletin, St Bride’s parish priest Fr Joe Boland said: “All over the world, lay men and women have been conducting funerals for years. Obviously they cannot say Mass, but not every funeral involves Mass, and in that case there is nothing a priest can do that a lay person cannot do.
“This will sound strange to many of you, but as the number of parishes covered by one priest grows, it will become more and more necessary,” he went on. “This is not the case here in West Kilbride at the moment, but the current situation will not last forever. There will inevitably be resistance to the idea of lay people exercising this ministry, but that is to be expected. It will work itself out”
Maureen Knight, who is responsible for pastoral care at Liverpool Archdiocese, told the SCO a similar scheme there had been a great success.
“We’ve had 120 people go through the training programme,” she said. ”The negativity around it has been minimal.
“We find that there are people coming to funerals that have very little connection with the church so this is an easier way,” she said. “Rather than the requiem Mass we would want, this is another option.”
She also said the change had helped ‘care of the bereaved become the responsibility of the whole community.’
“The lay funeral minister, they can be with the family beforehand, talk about things they might be afraid to talk to a priest about,” she said. “And they can visit them afterwards, look after them a bit more.”
A 1997 Vatican document on the laity fulfilling priestly duties says ‘the non-ordained faithful may lead the ecclesiastical obsequies provided that there is a true absence of sacred ministers and that they adhere to the prescribed liturgical norms.’
It also states that ‘in the present circumstances of growing de-christianization and of abandonment of religious practice, death and the time of obsequies can be one of the most opportune pastoral moments in which the ordained minister can meet with the non-practising members of the faithful,’ so ‘it is thus desirable that priests and deacons, even at some sacrifice to themselves, should preside personally at funeral rites in accordance with local custom, so as to pray for the dead and be close to their families, thus availing of an opportunity for appropriate evangelization.’
At present there are no plans for similar programmes in the other seven Scottish dioceses Source – Scottish Catholic Observer
It’s that “at present” that is the worry. How long before all the usual parish busy-bodies are organising funerals across Scotland? Conducting YOUR funeral? I say “your funeral” because none of them will ever organise mine. Be assured. Over my dead body, as they say, so to speak. You’ll get my drift. Does this resignation to the lack of vocations suggest to you, as it does to me, a total loss of divine and Catholic Faith?
Is the Church finished? Without priests, remember, there IS no Church, so why is the hierarchy concentrating on creating a lay-led Church instead of concentrating on restoring the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Faith and Liturgy? If they did that, the vocations would come – no doubt about it. So, what’s going on? Who, on this earth, really wants a lay person conducting his/her funeral?