Reformed Baptist pastor preaching in a Catholic funeral - OK?

Hi, everyone. A friend of my family is a pastor at a Reformed Baptist church. Recently, his Catholic uncle died, and the pastor’s family asked him to preach the funeral sermon/homily at the Catholic funeral. He sent out an e-mail asking for prayer, as he intends to preach the Gospel and is afraid the Catholics will stop him. ( :frowning: )

He also asked for prayer in case a “higher-up,” like a bishop, ordered the priest to forbid this Baptist pastor from preaching. Is it wrong for a Catholic priest to allow a pastor from another Christian church to preach a sermon? Would it be wrong in Divine Service but not in a funeral service? And in practice, do bishops care about that sort of thing whether it is allowed or not?

All facts and opinions welcome. :slight_smile:

It is my understanding that the homily (based on the readings of that day), or a sermon (based on another Catholic teaching) is reserved for the ordained.

A eulogy is not appropriate for the liturgy. Perhaps the pastor can give his theology opinions at the funeral home at a designated time.

Since the reformed camp would deny Purgatory, Communion of Saints, and Catholic teachings on the Atonement… not to mention predestination, justification, and the Christianity of Catholics… why would anyone look for conflict when they should be celebrating the return home of the uncle?

Do Bishops care? Well, they SHOULD!!


What is appropriate for the liturgy? Do you think this Catholic Church is more liberal or “lapsed,” and that is why they are allowing this?

The last Catholic funeral I attended was my aunt’s in December. I spoke with the Priest, and he had no problem with me giving a eulogy in place of the homily. And from what I’ve seen and heard, it’s a fairly common occurrence, so I really don’t see the problem with your friend speaking.

As for him giving a sermon, I think that as long as he keeps it focused as a remembrance of his uncle, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. However, if he IS just going to use the time to preach specifically reformed theology, well it’s still a Catholic Mass, and he should be respectful. Probably it’s best if he at LEAST make a phone call or two and clear it with the appropriate parties first.

One thing that always gets under my skin is when a “bible christian” worries that Catholics will get upset when they “preach the gospel”. Turns out, we’re pretty big fans of the Gospel. It’s almost like we worship Jesus too. Madness.

But you don’t understand…Trail of Blood…the Dark Ages…Call no man Father…Not the washing of the water…they met in homes…Do this in memory of me… :smiley:

He is definitely going to preach the Gospel according to Charles Spurgeon and seems concerned that somebody will find out. I would say he is planning a surprise, but he’s such a humble, honest man that he must have told the priest exactly what he plans to say.

My understanding is he cannot read the Gospel , or give the Homily as mentioned earlier. However I think the Priest can after the Homily announce “a guest speaker will be speaking now” I think the guest is restricted to the ambo. He certainly should speak from the ambo anyway(right side as lector). Of course we would expect and he should be asked to not contradict catholic teachings during his speaking.

Is there a funeral Mass or merely a service?

The only ones authorized to preach at Mass are those who are ordained. So the Baptist minister wouldn’t be allowed to do that. He might be allowed to give a short reflection after Communion.

I hear of all sorts of things families would like to do at funerals. “Dad just loved baseball, so let’s include ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ as one of the songs for Mass.” Um…no. If you want to be creative, do it at the vigil service before the funeral. And that would be an appropriate place for this Baptist preaching.

In our Diocese, eulogies are permitted at the prayer service the night before the funeral Mass. Anyone may give a eulogy at the prayer service, including people who don’t share our beliefs. This is followed by the praying of the Rosary and other traditional prayers for the dead, if the family chooses to do this.

It is to be hoped that the Baptist pastor (not knowing the difference) is giving his preaching at the prayer service, and not at the actual funeral.

Very little mention is made of the deceased at the funeral itself, other than in the prayers for him or her - the funeral is on the subject of life after death; not on the subject of that person’s accomplishments, etc.

Well, just out of curiosity, if he thinks he’s going to upset some people, why is he doing it? I mean, it’s a funeral. Is he going to try and use it as a forum to recruit the bereaved? There’s a time and a place to introduce new ideas to people, but I’m not sure if his uncle’s eulogy is it.

Anyways, you might want to at least suggest to him that he check in with the Priest or whoever, if he hasn’t already. I’d be interested in hearing how this went though.

“My uncle and I have gotten very close these past years, and he always wanted me to visit him and share the gospel with him. One of his last requests was that I speak in some fashion at his funeral. So please pray for me as tomorrow I will bringing the funeral sermon in a Roman Catholic church service. The priest gave me permission to preach the sermon for the service as I see fit, and he even gave me leave to use my own bible.”

Sounds like the Funeral Mass to me. I guess this is because the priest knew the uncle pretty well.

It still could be either one. It doesn’t sound like he is aware of the two different parts of a Catholic funeral.

Can you ask him whether “the funeral” is taking place in the evening, or in the morning? If he says it is taking place in the evening, then he is giving a eulogy at the prayer service, and there is no problem with this. But if it’s in the morning, then this is improper, although I can see how the priest might be thinking that there are pastoral reasons for allowing it - so that this guy can’t go around accusing the Catholic Church of “forbidding the Gospel,” etc.

Uh? NO!
I’m not certain exactly what “reformed” baptist means but, based on the sermons I’ve heard from Baptists at funerals absolutely not. Catholics really don’t “need” to “accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour” if they are doing it right and alternative #2 is “Uncle Billy is burning in the fires of hell” is also inappropriate and insensative to family and friends who are mourning him. If it is a mass of rememberance then at the appropriate time after communion then this gentleman can speak about what the deceased meant to him and his memories if brief.Most catholic homilies last at most 15 or 20 minutes but, the baptist guy could do an hour without a sweat. Re: preaching the gospel note Galatians 1:6-11 and Second John verses 7-11. By the way, do we beleive this pastor would extend the same “courtesy” if it were a Catholic priest coming to his church to say a mass for one of his relatives who was catholic?
RE: accepting Jesus as savior is a life time process and not the subject of an “altar call” and then it’s a done deal.(NOTE: Philipians 2:12)

Yep. Besides, I am not aware of any faith community that has an “altar” to be called to.


BTW there’s an old joke about Romas 12:1 that the problem with “living sacrifices” is that they keep getting up and walking away from the altar.:smiley:

Although this was not at a funeral, my daughter’s father-in-law who is a Lutheran pastor was allowed to partake in the baptism of my oldest grandaughter. He was allowed to say a prayer or two. The priest was a convert from the Baptist church, so maybe that is why he was more open to it. Also it was a private Baptism. Only our family and friends were there.

When my cousin passed away people gave eulogies. The priest who celebrated the Mass was her husband’s uncle.

Catholic funerals to me are much more meaniful than the protestant ones I have attended. Many of the protestant ones the minister has made altar calls for the people attending to accept Christ as their Savior. I find this very inappropriate.

Yours in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary


I agree it is highly inappropriate to use a funeral as an excuse for an “altar call to accept Christ as saviour” as i posted above.

Reformed Baptists aren’t quite like that. They try very hard to emulate John Owen, John Bunyan, Whitfield, Matthew Henry, Spurgeon, etc. While they don’t mind raising their voice, they are very grave, studious and sober preachers (to their credit.) He won’t give an “altar call” - he’ll exposit a text and at the end have an application for Christians and non-Christians (not-fully-repentant Protestants and Catholics being the non-Christians.)

Apparently it was in the morning, so it was during the Funeral Mass itself. Here are the relevant parts of an account I just received:

*I said practically everything that I had anticipated saying while I was preparing my outline. One of my relatives that does sound like a genuine Christian said that he really appreciated it and thought that I’d made the gospel very clear. There were a couple of others that seemed to genuinely appreciate the message. Other than that, most said nothing to me, though there was politeness all around.

However, I must say, I had everyone’s attention. You could tell that they were listening carefully. Some of my lost and unchurched relatives were there too like ----------. It was good for them to hear the gospel once again, but I also gave a good warning to those in the audience that were careless about their souls and let them know that they were going to hell if they didn’t repent. I gave a gospel invitation imploring them to pray to Jesus for their salvation.

-------- could see the Priest and his helpers behind me. It was amusing to her at one point because when I said something about the hypocritical Jewish priests in Jesus time one of the old me that was a priest’s helper gave a very annoyed and astonished look that she said almost made her laugh.

The priest seemed to be most unusual as I understand R.C. priests to be. Afterwards when I thanked him for his generous hospitality in allowing me to use his pulpit, he said, “we’ve come a long way, haven’t we.” I could like this guy. ------- said his priest would never allow such a thing.

Thank you for your prayers, and pray now that the gospel would bear fruit.*

I guess the bolded part answers all of my questions…

Yep. Well, at least now he can’t go around saying that “Catholics refuse the Gospel.”

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