"Nazi war criminal's funeral thwarted by protesters in Italy"

I’m probably opening up a can of worms here, but considering it has political, theological and SSPX-ical implications, it seems an appropriate topic for this forum.


This is quite a complicated case! On the one hand, I would think everyone is entitled to a proper (Catholic) burial, especially since this person, Erich Priebke, had confessed his sins albeit while still denying the gassing of Jews in the Holocaust. On the other hand, the fact this is a public ceremony in a town in which some of the Jewish population had been witness to the massacre committed by this Nazi war criminal, makes the whole ceremony a visceral slap in the face. Throw into the mix the controversial, anti-Vatican II Society of St. Pius X group which sponsored the funeral and of which some members appear to be antisemitic Holocaust deniers, as well as the danger of violence imposed on the town’s residents, and you have a most volatile and precarious situation. I don’t know what more to say.

Details of Priebke’s relationship with the Society of St. Pius X weren’t known, but one Italian member, the Rev. Floriano Abrahamowicz, said he counted Priebke as a friend and would celebrate a memorial Mass in his honor this weekend.

Abrahamowicz in the past has supported Williamson and expressed doubts of his own about the extent of the Holocaust.

“I absolve sinners, and I don’t consider a sin what he did,” Abrahamowicz told Sky TG24, speaking of Priebke’s role in the massacre. “It was simply the tremendous, horrible laws of war.”

Wow. Has this guy heard of the Nuremburg Trials?

Erich Priebke was denied his rightful Catholic funeral because of complaints by people who would see the Church outlawed and forced underground.

His crimes were horrific but forgiven through confession/absolution. Denying the extent or methods of the Holocaust is not a sin, although many treat is as one.

His crimes were forgiven by God through confession/absolution, not by his fellow Italians. And no one who uses reason and the historical record engages in Holocaust denial. It may not be a sin but I surely wouldn’t want to defend such outright ignorance.

It is good that we only have to depend upon God for forgiveness.

What his fellow Italians think or what he believes about the Holocaust is irrelevant. He was denied a Catholic funeral and that is wrong.

It was unnecessary to have a public funeral. It should have been done in private, as instructed by Rome’s archdiocese.

Public funeral? It was attempted in what was described in the article as a “walled compound”.

The SSPX response sanpiox.it/public/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1092%3Acomunicato-stampa&catid=53&Itemid=50

Google translation…
The Society of St. Pius X at this time received a request from the family members of Mr. Erich Priebke to celebrate the funeral of controversial former German officer was condemned by the Italian justice for the atrocious massacre of the Fosse Ardeatine .

A Christian who has been baptized and have received the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist , whatever were his faults and sins , to the extent that dies reconciled with God and with the Church has the right to the celebration of the Holy Mass and the funeral .

We hereby reiterate our rejection of all forms of anti-Semitism and racial hatred but also of hatred in all its forms . The Catholic religion is that of mercy and forgiveness.

This funeral was to take place in private, without any emphasis or media manipulation .

Wishing a good job to all the journalists remain convinced of the need not to share an act of Christian piety with an ideological gesture , compassion and mercy can not be intermittent , but they must always drive the Church of Christ .

We hereby disclaim resolutely any other alleged statement to members of the fraternity gathered at this time the newspapers.

The Italian District of the Society of St. Pius X

I am quite frankly disgusted that he was denied a Requiem Mass by Rome. He frequented the Sacraments, he regularly attended Mass—though there are those that say he should not have been allowed this liberty—and he died, God willing, having been absolved of his sins.

A Requiem Mass is not about celebrating someone’s life, their deeds, good or bad. It is solely and purely about praying for the repose of someone’s soul. The salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes. Should we not then pray for the salvation of men? And are there any here that would dare to say there is any superior prayer to that of Christ Himself that is offered in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? And yet the man is denied this because of politics?

Denial of the Holocaust is not a sin. The man didn’t say the Nazi’s were right to kill and gas Jews. He said it didn’t happen. There is a very big difference and he should not be denied a Requiem Mass because of this.

Thank God the Society stepped in when the man’s soul has been let down by Roman officials.

^^^Well said. :thumbsup:

Public, manifest sin requires public, manifest repentance before one can be admitted to a publicly Catholic ceremony like burial (one which is, after all, not necessary for salvation). This is precisely to prevent scandal.

It appears the former Nazi in question was not repentant, having arranged for the post-mortem release of a memoir full of typical Nazi boilerplate after his death. Rome was therefore right to deny him a public funeral.

Also worth noting is that Fr. Abrahamowicz is no longer affiliated with the SSPX, having been expelled from the Society in 2009 and having since veered into some pretty wacky territory, including Holocaust denial and sedevacantism.


What you say here about this man’s practice of the faith is new to me. I had read that “there was little evidence that he ever practiced the faith.” ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/rome-debates-funeral-nazi-war-criminal

In order to be granted Catholic funeral rites, someone who has done what this man has done has to give some signs of repentance. Apparently, the Vicar for Rome did not have the evidence that he did this. On the other hand, if he did give signs of repentance, he should be given the funeral rites. I don’t think public outcry should be the determining factor.

As far as praying for him and having Mass offered for him–there’s no problem there and anyone can do that.


Where are the people that gnashed their teeth when Ted Kennedy was given a catholic funeral? Surely they aren’t among those complaining that this fellow was denied one? From the article excerpts, it sounds like he went and found a priest who told him that his conformance to Nazi war orders wasn’t a sin, not that he repented and confessed his sins.

In eras past, it was quite common for catholics who died in obstinate public sin to be denied a funeral mass to avoid scandal. I’m puzzled why the SSPX of all people would be so outraged at such a traditional decision to avoid the appearance of scandal.

With his denial and likely refusal to confess to the gassing of Jewish people I think his confession would be invalid.

Had I been his confessor I would not have granted absolution.

Lies are not sins? Who would ever claim that his views of the Holocaust are anything but a pack of lies?

Since when have the FSSPX had the ministry to say Mass at all, much less have a chapel at the Vatican?

Fine – let’s accept the SSPX’s version of events. This still does not account for the fact that the Archdiocese of Rome denied Priebke a public funeral. None of us has a right to invite scandal upon the Church. As noted in the NCReporter article linked earlier, “On background, officials of the vicariate cited canon 1184 of the Code of 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.’” And his funeral was rightfully scandalous. He routinely denied responsibility for his actions.

The diocese of Rome had refused Giachini’s request to allow a funeral to take place in a church or chapel.

In a statement issued Monday, the diocese said, “Considering all the circumstances of the case, the ecclesial authorities believed that prayer for the deceased and entrusting him to the mercy of God – the aims of a religious funeral – should take place in the strictest privacy.”

“Prayers for the dead were never denied,” the diocese said, but the church had a right to insist the rites be “reserved and discreet.”

Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, secretary of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals, told Rome’s Corriere della Sera newspaper Wednesday that the church would never prohibit prayers for someone, but canon law does allow a bishop to deny a public funeral to a “manifest sinner” when it would scandalize the faithful.

In Priebke’s case, he said, “the crime was public and notorious, the lack of conversion was public and notorious, and the scandal it would have raised in the Christian community was public and notorious.”


They’re not lies if you believe them to be true. If I say that we never landed on the moon, and I believe that to be true, that doesn’t make me a liar. Sure, I may be going against the evidence presented or even common sense, but I wouldn’t be committing the sin of lying.

I don’t know enough about this man’s life or what he did and did not do, but according to all reports, he repented of his sins, was a faithful Catholic during his last years, and was given the Sacrament of Extreme Unction before dying. To me it sounds like he should have been allowed a Catholic burial. It also sounds like it was never meant to be a public burial, but rather a private one, but when the media got wind of it, all that flew out the door.

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