Denied a Funeral


What does it mean to be a “notorious sinner?” Here was a person who did bad things, but in his later hears regularly went to confession to a Catholic priest and recieved absolution. Now he is being denied a Catholic burial. Why did the Catholic priest give him absolution and then later on deny him a Catholic funeral?

"The Rome Vicariate, which overseas churches in the city and province, promptly announced in a statement soon after his death that no public funeral would be granted to him in the city or outskirts of Rome. Officials cited canon law which states that a funeral may be denied to “manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful.”

Priebke’s lawyer released statements saying that “a large part of the Italian people are concerned that religious rites be refused to a dead person” and said he would hold the funeral in the street if no church would allow the funeral.

“Priebke”, he said “received confession regularly and was absolved by the clergy.”–abc-news-topstories.html


Well, I think a self-proclaimed unrepentent Nazi SS officer would certainly fit the bill. I think “notorious” and “sinner” are pretty self explanatory.

Says his lawyer. We don’t really know that.

Um, no. He is being denied a public funeral, not a Catholic funeral. The article states there will be a private funeral.

As it should be. This is a man who led atrocities against the Roman people. A private, discreet ceremony is best. The Roman clergy know what they are doing.

A lesson in don’t believe everything you read on Yahoo news.


Did you read the whole article? I thought the article was very clear, he is being denied a public funeral. Instead:

The Rome vicariate later announced a “private and discreet” ceremony will be held in a “place that does not disturb anyone” so as to “allow relatives to gather for a moment of prayer.”


According to the story, he never saw anything wrong with what he did as a Nazi. And his son said “the trial against my father was all invented by the Jews,” which seems to confirm that.

The Chief of Police said there would be no public funeral or procession, for reasons of public order. He has the right to make that decision.

And then there’s this:
The Rome vicariate later announced a “private and discreet” ceremony will be held in a “place that does not disturb anyone” so as to “allow relatives to gather for a moment of prayer.”

Sounds perfectly reasonable to me, under the circumstances.


Public, manifest sin requires public, manifest repentance before the Church will grant a public, manifest burial ceremony.


I wish I could find the actual statements from the Vicariate…and understand them. I don’t know what the Vicariate means by “‘a private and discreet’ ceremony.” Of course, with the ex-SSPX priest getting involved, I wonder what is actually going to happen, privately or otherwise.



A funeral mass, while important, is not a sacrament. The local Church has the right under canon law to deny it for the reason specified. . While he may have gone to confession, we do not know the details of the confession. However, he was publicly unrepentant, and certainly notorious. It sounds like a just decision by the local church.


In NY there have been a number of Mafia bosses who were denied Catholic funerals, most recently John Gatti in 2002. They were allowed to be buried in a Catholic cemetery.



And one important thing to note, no one was denied a funeral Mass.

The Church always holds that it is important to pray for everyone, most especially anyone guilty of serious sin.

What was denied was a PUBLIC funeral Mass.

What the Church desires is not that a person be denied a Mass to pray for their souls, but that such a Mass not be a focal point for public demonstrations.


The Church certainly can and does deny ecclesiastical funerals and funeral masses. It appears in this case they allowed a private funeral. However, we are going by a vague newspaper report. It is not at all clear what this private service will be, or where, or led by whom.

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

1/ notorious apostates, heretics, and schismatics;

2/ those who chose the cremation of their bodies for reasons contrary to Christian faith;

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

§2. If any doubt occurs, the local ordinary is to be consulted, and his judgment must be followed.

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


I’ve never heard of a private Catholic funeral, in fact at my old parish I asked this very question of our priest because I wasn’t Catholic then and had showed up to pray and a funeral was going on. So I didn’t go in. I asked him later and he said it would have been fine because there are no private funerals in the Church. :shrug:

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