Can an atheist or non-believer be given a catholic funeral?


Well I know first hand of it occurring. A young man died in a motorcycle crash. His distant relatives were Catholic and asked their parish priest to conduct the funeral. I know from a friend of the deceased that stated she knew for a fact he was never baptized or went to Church. Moreover, she related that the deceased always talked about the church in a derogatory manner.


Ecclesiastical funerals can be given to baptized non-Catholics with permission of the Ordinary.

It does not appear that the law provides for ecclesiastical funerals for the unbaptized, excepting babies whose parents intended to baptize them and catechumens.

But, perhaps the bishop gave permission.


I know of one case in which a Catholic priest offered a service for a non-believer (who had been married to a Catholic), which was given at the funeral home. I would not characterize it as a funeral. Presumably he had authorization from his bishop.


That is interesting.

Consider that many people don’t know where, when or if they have been baptized.

To have a friend claim that she knows? I don’t buy it.

I guarantee you that at least half a dozen of my husband’s friends would say the same thing. But they would be wrong. He was baptized. He parents just never took him to church. And he doesn’t claim to belong to the Church now.

Something I always try to remember, unless it is you, you never know the whole story. And even when it is about you, you might not know it.


Did the priest know all these details, or just that his parishioners asked for their relative to have a funeral service? (Was it even a Mass?)


A quick question about “Ecclesiastical funerals.” This appears to refer to a funeral Mass correct? It would make sense to not allow the unbaptized to have a funeral mass, since their are many “reminders” of the person’s baptism (eg. sprinkling of holy water etc.). But I was curious about priests doing “funeral services” at funeral homes, they usually say some prayers, if the person was baptized or Catholic, they often incorporate parts of the funeral rite. This seems to be rather popular lately, especially with old people, who feel (a false feeling) that they don’t want to “put their relatives out” by having to attend a funeral Mass. It would seem, if priests are allowed (which I have no idea) to do these types of “memorial services” then they could offer a similar thing to the non-baptized.



Can.* 1185 Any funeral Mass must also be denied a person who is excluded from ecclesiastical funerals.

Ecclesiastical funerals consist of three rites: the Vigil for the Deceased, the Funeral Mass or Funeral Liturgy Outside of Mass, and the Rite of Committal.

Therefore, a person who is denied an ecclesiastical funeral is denied all three, which would include the Funeral Liturgy Outside of Mass.


Interesting. Thank you! :thumbsup:


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