Suicide


#1

I was reading the newspaper a few weeks ago and saw an article where a man had committed suicide. I’ve been wondering if, say he was Catholic, would he be able to have a Catholic funeral? I would think he would.

Also, do you think suicide’s go to heaven? I would like to think they do.


#2

The current Cod of Canon Law does not forbid it. Here are the relevant canons:

Can. 1184 ß1 Church funeral rites are to be denied to the following, unless they gave some signs of repentance before death:

1ƒ notorious apostates, heretics and schismatics;

2ƒ those who for anti‚christian motives chose that their bodies be cremated;

3ƒ other manifest sinners to whom a Church funeral could not be granted without public scandal to the faithful.

ß2 If any doubt occurs, the local Ordinary is to be consulted and his judgment followed.

Can. 1185 Any form of funeral Mass is also to be denied to a person who has been excluded from a Church funeral.

We do not know and cannot know. The Catechism states:

2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.

2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.


#3

When did the Church change this? I thought the doctrine of the Church never changes? How come they used to deny a Catholic funeral to suicides and declare that they died in a state of mortal sin? Where has the Church suddenly got the idea that God provides the opportunity for repentance to those whose own mortal sin results in their death? Doesn’t this contradict scripture (man is to die once, and then face judgment)? Doesn’t it also make null the need for the sacrament of the Last Rites? Is this just the Church trying to be ‘nice’ to people who have lost loved ones to suicide. Surely it’s more important for the Church to witness to those people for the truth and perfect justice of God’s law, than to be ‘nice’?


#4

I think it depends on the person’s state of mind. Thats, of course, up to God to decide. I have been suicidal and even attempted it in the past and believe me I wasn’t myself then. I was in a fog of evil and despair. God is the only one who could have pulled me out of it, unfortunately not everyone makes it that far.


#5

it just says we do not know the extent of God’s mercy. It doesn’t say they are going to be sent to Hell nor does it say they will be forgiven and allowed into Heaven. We just don’t know their state of minds and how mericful God will be. It certainly doesn’t nullify the need for Last Rites. You are taking a really big gamble hoping to receive a chance for God’s mercy after death without receiving the Last Rites and if you had the opportunity but refused it based on the fact that you thought it wasn’t necessary and that God would be merciful to you regardless then you surely are really taking your chances.


#6

The Church has not changed anything.

The Church teaches that suicide is grave matter. If done with full knowledge and free will it is a mortal sin. If unrepented, mortal sin separates us eternally from God.

The Church recognizes that mental illness or other factors may be in play and we cannot know if any particular person who committed suicide was in mortal sin or not;

Funerals are regulated by Canon Law. The Church denied funeral Masses due to the unknown fate of a person who commits suicide. Currently, the Church allows the funeral on the hope that the person did repent or had mitigating circumstances.

Whether or not one may be buried in a Catholic cemetery or have a funeral Mass is not part of doctrine, it’s part of Church Law. Church Law is free to change.

You misread the text. One may have final repentance in the last seconds of one’s life. If it is true contrition, it is acceptable to God.

This is not a new teaching of the Church. Confession is always the ordinary means of forgiveness, but God may act via extraordinary means.

Between the bridge and the water there is time to repent.

No. You have misread the statement.

There is no Sacrament of Last Rites.

Confession is the ordinary means of grace and reconciliation. We are bound to it, God is not. He may give grace through extraordinary means.

No

And what truth is that? The Church can make no pronouncement on whether the person is condemned or not-- since no one on this side knows the eternal destiny of a person who commits suicide, their state of mind when they committed the act, nor whether they repented before death.

We can, as the Catechism says, hope.


#7

When one commits suicide you cannot possible believe that he is in his right state of mind. It is only a grave sin if he commits suicide in full knowledge without mental health problems. And from my experience those who commit suicide do suffer from mental health issues other wise it would be very difficult to perform the actual act.


#8

A couple of things here:

In the past, the Rite of Christian Burial would be denied to someone who committed suicide because - as Canon law states - it would be left up to the local authority. Ofttimes these decisions were made to ‘be on the safe side’ and to avoid scandal.

What the Church has always taught is that we do not know what is in a person’s heart. As our understanding of mental illness grows, our understanding that what may constitute a mortal sin may not apply to a suicide victim…they may not have had the mental capacity to form the intent and intent is required for something to be considered a grave sin.

When I was a little girl - over 45 years ago - a very holy and compassionate nun taught me that God operates outside of time and space…afterall He created the laws of physics so He can operate within them or not…because God operates outside those laws we have no way of knowing if a person who has made the decision to end their life has the time to repent of the action they take based on this decision before their soul leaves their body and they die. Therefore, let us always remember to pray for them.

And in case you think this is something ‘new’, St. Theresa of Avila used to tell people she prayed for the soul of Judas Iscariot. When they would exclaim, in shock, “But he betrayed Christ!” she would reply “So have I”


#9
  1. It changed the way that it treated suicide when psychology developed, and our understanding of the effects of depression on the mind became understood. That was not a doctrinal issue; it was a moral issue.

  2. I have never seen a declaration by the Church that anyone died in a state of mortal sin; that is different than saying that what they did was objectively (as opposed to subjectively) a mortal sin. That statement does not say that the individual actually intended to commit a mortal sin.

  3. There is nothing sudden to the Church thinking that one may have some final opportunity at repentance. The Church has never declared at exactly what point the soul leaves the body, and at what point immediate (as opposed to final) judgement occurs. There is no contradiction; the statement you quote is not absolute in terms of temporal order. That is, the statement doesn’t say that judgement is immediate upon cessation of brain waves, e.g.

  4. the sacrament of Last Rites, which I assume you mean Extreme Unction is not a necessity; it is a grace. It is now called the Sacrament of the Sick. It does not become null, any more than it would be null for someone who dies in an auto accident.

  5. The Church is not trying to be “nice”. It is trying to be pastoral. It has now the experience and knowledge from psychology of the devastating effects on the miond of depression, and understands that in at least some circumstances depression may have clouded the mind so much that the individual’s will was not completely free, or possbily free at all; thus the three requirements of a mortal sin, a) it must be serious; 2) the actor must know it is serious; and c) they must fully and freely will to do the act have not been met. Mental illness may prevent one from understanding the act, and/or prevent full and free act of the will. And without either or both of the last two, a person has not committed a mortal sin, and can be given a church funeral.


#10

I was always told I would go to Hell. (I’ve been raised Protestant.) Whether or not it’s true, being scared of Hell is the only reason none of the 13 attempts succeeded.


#11

Don’t let the next one succeed either AO.

No one knows for 100% sure, but the fact is that there is nothing in the Word of God that teaches that a suicide is irredeemable. I have seen some really heartless and mean spirited n-Cs make that assertion concerning a person who has taken their own life, but it’s not in the Bible and not in the teachings of the early church either.

That said… if you are thinking about doing away with yourself, PM me and we’ll talk. I might have some insights for you that may help.
Pax tecum,


#12

In the past, the Rite of Christian Burial would be denied to someone who committed suicide because - as Canon law states - it would be left up to the local authority. Ofttimes these decisions were made to ‘be on the safe side’ and to avoid scandal.

Could you please elaborate on this? If it was denied in the past, when did the Church begin to allow it? Is the local authority the Bishop or priest?


closed #13

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