Catholic Funeral Question


Let’s say a Catholic man divorces his wife and remarries a Catholic woman, who is also divorced. There is no annulment obtained by either party. They belong to a parish and are known to attend Mass sometimes, Easter, Christmas, etc.
Let’s say one of these two people dies. Can she or he have a proper Catholic funeral–ie Mass of Christian Burial? I ask because I’ve seen this happen in a couple cases lately and am attending such a funeral this week. I just don’t know how this works. Again, my question is about a couple in an unlawful (in the Church’s eyes) marriage.


I think it’s up to the priest. Keep in mind, he may know things about the situation that you don’t.


You do not know the details of the individual situation and should not presume that you do.


Fair enough. But not an answer to my question. So I’ll take the personal out and ask it theoretically.
If a baptized Catholic man and a baptized Catholic woman are each divorced and marry each other without an annulment, can they expect to have a Catholic funeral Mass?


Canon law says that someone can be be denied a Catholic funeral if they are a notorious public sinner or heretic.

But not too many are denied on this basis- Gotti was denied. Ditto for other mafioso.

This is just a case of someone who didn’t obey the rules on marriage, and didn’t make a public scene about it. A far cry from a la costa nostra don.


It depends. One can confess and express regret for the situation on his/her deathbed at the sacrament of anointing of the sick. We cannot presume to know if this occurred or not, therefore we trust the judgement of the priest in allowing a funeral.


Honestly, I know of priests who will have funerals for the children of parishioners who have strayed from the faith or their elderly parent who they served as caregiver to did not become Catholic but are well known to the community. I don’t think at the hour past someone’s death a priest would say “sorry, your kid did’t attend mass regularly…we ran out of time to turn him/her around…”

But either way, if these are baptized, cradle Catholics, I can’t see a priest debating “they are not real Catholics” and deny them a funeral. They could have been misseducated about the annulment process (ie, MANY people have the belief that you cannot get an annulment if you have kids because it would make them illegitimate or if their prior spouse was abusive they fear contact — and do not KNOW that the archdiocese is very discreet and careful in the manner).

Either way, if either the deceased or spouse was close to you, attend the funeral with zero judgement.


I think that is pretty accurate. I’ve arranged for Catholic funerals for a relative who wasn’t registered with any parish and to the best of my knowledge rarely attended any mass.

But he also wasn’t a notorious gangster or a cult leader ranting against the machine either.

It was not a problem getting his mass lined up.


Thanks. Honestly, I just did not know this, so I appreciate your answers.


As to the question of annulment, there are two forum, the external and the internal. The external is the procedure we are quite familiar with, petition, trial by tribunal, official judgment. There is also the internal forum where a priest can admit the person back to the sacraments privately. This second forum is not well known, generally shunned in even talking about it, and not even publicly discussed. I know that to be the case over the last several decades. (and I think that is what Pope Francis is doing with amoris Laetitia - possibly opening up the internal forum and admitting it to catholic life.) One doesn’t know the inner state of anyone’s soul and its relation to God at any given moment. I would think given that latitude, a mass of Christian burial would be permissible and even desired.

And, I am no canon lawyer. I do know these two forums for the decree of nullity exist and that the internal forum has been greatly reserved or even prohibited from use. I welcome any more qualified clergyman or advanced canon law expert to refine and/or correct any discrepancy in my above statements. Thanx.


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