Is a funeral required?


Is it acceptable to not have a funeral for someone? Or is it required by the Church?


No, it’s not required. But unless there is a very good reason to forgo having one I don’t know why you wouldn’t have one. You would certainly want to have Masses sad for the soul of the the deceased.


See Canon Law.

Can. 1176 §1. Deceased members of the Christian faithful must be given ecclesiastical funerals according to the norm of law…

I think the must be given obliges the Church rather than the survivors.

We have had a couple of cases where the one in charge was non-Catholic and did not see the need for a funeral. Some of the EMHC’s, who had taken Communion to the deceased while ill, got together with the pastor and had a funeral mass without the body. [We find the **Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell policy best in such cases. ;)]


Can you have a funeral mass for someone without the body in a different state where you live? Is having a funeral mass the same as having their name read during the mass? What if they are not Catholic or baptized?


My mother and my step-father both had their funerals and were buried back east. However, they had lived in a retirement village in California for many years. Therefore, we had a funeral mass for each at the Catholic Church in that village so that their many long time friends could attend.


Can. 1183 …

§3. In the prudent judgment of the local ordinary, ecclesiastical funerals can be granted to baptized persons who are enrolled in a non-Catholic Church or ecclesial community unless their intention is evidently to the contrary and provided that their own minister is not available.

I don’t think that a funeral mass for an unbaptized person, except for an infant awaiting baptism or a catechumen, is meaningful. However, we have held a Liturgy of the Word or something along that line in a couple of cases.


Note the distinction between a funeral mass and a Mass intention.

A funeral mass uses the full funeral liturgy and readings. While it may be in the place of a regularly scheduled mass, it is often an additional mass like a funeral or wedding.

A mass intention is the application of the graces of a regularly scheduled mass to the intentions of the person so designated. Nothing is changed in the liturgy or readings of the mass.


I am curious why a person would ask this. If you are making your own end of life preparations, you have time to seek answers. But if someone you know has died, leaving you in charge, you need to get to a priest and make arrangements immediately. I wish you the best if you are in either of these situations.


As human beings we are not so sophisticated as to allow a loved one to be buried or cremated without some type of service, which is our way of saying goodbye. My brother-in-law opted not to have a service for my sister when she died. That was fifteen years ago and I still have difficulty with it. I feel that I never was able to say goodbye. I never want to go through that again. I have attended non religious services for friends, but at least I was able to ask God to receive my friend(s) into His loving care.

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