Is it proper to have a Funeral Mass for a non-Catholic?


#1

My family is Catholic, my sister-in-law was not and had no desire to join the Church during her 30 year marriage to my brother. She held social positions in direct contradiction of our faith. The day before she passed she told her children she wanted to be cremated and did not want a Christian burial.

My brother is having a Funeral Mass for her. I thought funeral Masses were for practicing Catholics or catechumens whose desire is to join the faith, but passed before completing the process. Am I wrong?

Plus, if it is wrong, should I attend anyway for family unity? I'm fearful of causing a rift at this delicate time, but my conscience is bothered over this.


#2

I'm not catholic so can't express an opinion that has any authority but I would have thought that it is only possible to have a catholic funeral mass if a priest agrees to it, so trust the priest to know what he is about and if a requiem does take place go if you want to take part, in good faith.


#3

[quote="N351182, post:1, topic:304168"]
My family is Catholic, my sister-in-law was not and had no desire to join the Church during her 30 year marriage to my brother. She held social positions in direct contradiction of our faith. The day before she passed she told her children she wanted to be cremated and did not want a Christian burial.

My brother is having a Funeral Mass for her. I thought funeral Masses were for practicing Catholics or catechumens whose desire is to join the faith, but passed before completing the process. Am I wrong?

Plus, if it is wrong, should I attend anyway for family unity? I'm fearful of causing a rift at this delicate time, but my conscience is bothered over this.

[/quote]

If she expressed that she did not want a Christian burial or chose to be cremated for reasons contrary to the Christian faith it is not permissible by Canon Law:

Canon 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.

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.

However:

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

mda


#4

[quote="missadeangelis, post:3, topic:304168"]

Canon 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.

[/quote]

I think you can reasonably make this case. However, would the pastor know that this is the case, such that he would pass the question up the line for the bishop's approval?

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

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

I don't know that you can make this case. There's nothing that we've been given that suggests "reasons contrary to Christian faith". Cremation is an acceptable (although not preferred) alternative for Catholics.


#5

[quote="N351182, post:1, topic:304168"]
My brother is having a Funeral Mass for her.

[/quote]

Looking over your original post again, a question came to my mind.

Did your brother mean that this will be a literal Funeral Mass, with her cremated remains present and an interment following, or might this just be a Mass offered for the intention of the repose of her soul after her remains are buried?


#6

Several years ago, our elderly neighbor, who was a fallen away Catholic, died. She had not been to church for many decades but she did give a yearly contribution to the Church. Another non Catholic neighbor was in contact with her estranged sister who lived on the East coast. There were no plans for a funeral or service of any kind. A few of my Catholic friends wanted to have a Memorial Mass (not a funeral) offered for our friend and neighbor. We had a retired priest who agreed to offer the Mass. It was very simple with just a few people in attendance. Some how the word got out and our other non Catholic neighbor got word of the time the "funeral" for our friend. She and a couple of her friends attended, but were not happy about it, saying that our deceased friend's sister was furious when she was told that a "funeral" was being offered against her wishes and she did not have time or money to attend. There was a lot of misunderstanding about the Memorial Mass.


#7

Forgive me, I'm new and don't know how to reply to specific responses.

To Gorgias: our brother is calling it a Funeral Mass and included the date and time at the end of her obituary. Last we spoke his intent was to scatter her ashes, not bury them. So perhaps it truly will be a Memorial Mass in essence, even thou he's calling it a Funeral Mass. It's such an uncomfortable situation. His branch of the family, himself included, are fallen away Catholics. The Church he attended when they went is a very liberal one. This in itself has been a bone of contention at family gatherings and got to the point we avoided talking about politics AND religion at all holidays when the family came together.

So my prayer is it's really a Memorial Mass and he's calling it the other for whatever reason.


#8

Again, I understood that out of respect for the body, the Catholic Church does not approve of te scattering of cremated remains, rather they should be buried together.


#9

[quote="N351182, post:7, topic:304168"]
To Gorgias: our brother is calling it a Funeral Mass and included the date and time at the end of her obituary.

His branch of the family, himself included, are fallen away Catholics. The Church he attended when they went is a very liberal one.

[/quote]

So, there are a couple of issues. Your brother may perceive it as a 'funeral Mass', when in fact it is simply a 'memorial Mass' at which her ashes may (or may not) be present. If it's just a memorial Mass, then it's all good.

On the other hand, at this parish, the priest may decide to go through the ritual of a funeral Mass. That would be regrettable, in a certain sense, because of the confusion it might create. On the other hand, if they feel it's important to have a funeral Mass, then there's still at least a glimmer of hope for the 'fallen-away' side of the family. Pray for them and for their re-conversion.

You might consider calling the parish and asking whether it's a funeral Mass or a memorial Mass, if it's really bothering you.


#10

Thank you to everyone for responding to my query.

I just got off the phone with a Priest from our Archdiocese who oversees Worship. He says he hopes the Priest performs a Memorial Mass in this case, but even if he does go forward with a Funeral Mass we're morally OK to attend in support of the family to pray for the repose of her soul and the whole family. Doing so does not give assent to the very bad decision on the part of the Priest. He also suggested I call the Priest directly and discuss my concerns with him beforehand.

He said the Church doesn't have the same moral implications concerning funeral attendance as it does with say, knowingly attending an illicit marriage.

May God bless.


#11

I don't understand why the Church would even do a funeral mass for someone that was never Catholic or had taken no steps to become Catholic?


#12

[quote="Cider, post:11, topic:304168"]
I don't understand why the Church would even do a funeral mass for someone that was never Catholic or had taken no steps to become Catholic?

[/quote]

If the husband tells the Priest that his wife is Catholic there really is no way for the priest to know. Besides I think this is a memorial Mass.


#13

While that is probably not the proper thing for your brother to do. I think you should attend the funeral mass and offer the holy communion you are about to recieve for the repose of her soul.
:signofcross::signofcross::signofcross:


#14

That is really a sensitive case. When somebody you know and love dies, it is really essential to get to the funeral. It's not only that you are showing the respect to the person who passed away, but you are also supporting the family and loved ones who are struggling with the death. If you need money to get to a funeral on short notice, get a payday advance loan. Learn more.


#15

These are the rules as summarized in the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon:

Who may have a Catholic funeral liturgy?

Summary: Canons 1176 §1; 1183 §1, 2, and 3:

There is a fundamental right for Christians to have a Christian burial. Therefore,
according to the norms of law, deceased members of the faithful must be given
ecclesiastical funerals. In doing so, the Church seeks spiritual support for the
deceased as it honors their bodies and offers hope to the living.

With regard to funeral rites, catechumens, or those intending to receive baptism,
are counted among the members of the faithful and given the prerogative to have
an ecclesiastical funeral.

Similarly, children who have died prior to receiving baptism, but whose parents
intended baptism, may have an ecclesiastical funeral with the permission of the
local ordinary.

Baptized persons enrolled in non-Catholic Churches or ecclesial communities
may also be granted ecclesiastical funerals with the following conditions having
been met so as to respect the wishes of the deceased and to avoid any appearance
of proselytizing:
1) the local ordinary, with the use of prudent judgment, gives such
permission;
2) an ecclesiastical funeral would not be contrary to the intent of the
deceased person;
3) the proper minister of the deceased is unavailable.

In the Archdiocese of Portland, pastors and parochial vicars have the faculty to
“allow Church funeral rites for an unbaptized child whose parents had intended to
have the child baptized” and “for baptized members of non-Catholic ecclesial
communities if requested by the family and provided this is not clearly contrary to
the wishes of the deceased.”

Funeral rites may be celebrated in an adapted form for non-Christian members of
a Catholic household (cf., OCF #398.36 and Part III, chapter 15).

Archdiocese of Portland:

• A priest/minister may not refuse funeral rites for a Catholic without the permission of the
local Ordinary.
• The current Code of Canon Law does not prohibit an ecclesiastical funeral for someone
who commits suicide. The OCF makes provision for a person who dies by suicide (cf.,
"Prayers for the Dead" OCF #398.44). For the purpose of arranging a funeral, a victim of suicide should be treated in the same manner as someone who dies of an untreated or
incurable illness.


#16

[quote="Cider, post:11, topic:304168"]
I don't understand why the Church would even do a funeral mass for someone that was never Catholic or had taken no steps to become Catholic?

[/quote]

Because the family asks for one.


closed #17

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