Thursday, June 17, 2010

Catholic Funerals for Non-Catholics

I was reading Father John Dietzen's column carried by the Catholic News Service the other day. He answers questions from readers. One woman asked whether her sister-in-law could have a Catholic funeral. She was baptized Protestant but attended Catholic Mass with her husband for 62 years.

He answered: "According to Catholic regulations, baptized Christians who are not members of the Catholic faith may have the funeral rites of the Catholic Church, including Mass, provided the person did not object to a Catholic funeral and that her own minister is not available. . . Even if she were not a baptized Christian, a funeral liturgy could be held for her in the Catholic church she attended, with Scripture readings, prayers, homily and other devotions, excluding the celebration of the Eucharist. These provisions are found in canon law (1183) and the 1993 Directory for Ecumenism (120)."

I hadn't known that this was the case, and thought it might be important information for others to be aware of as well.

5 comments:

Eric Baker said...

I was thinking on this a bit. I don't see why the Church would refuse the service. It would be disrespectful to the deceased not to perform some service on their behalf if their minister is unable r unwilling to do it. I can see following the Communion guidelines for non-Catholics which as you certainly know is printed in the missalette. But what I don't understand is why would Communion not be offered at all. I believe I read that correctly. The presence of living non-Catholics doesn't stop Communion, why would a deceased one matter?

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Interesting information (and useful for me). Interesting question from Eric, as well. I wonder what the answer to that is? Or why not...

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. I agree, the question is a valid one and I'm afraid I am not sure of the answer. I don't want to give out any incorrect information.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Maybe a reader will know the answer.

Eric Baker said...

I, though, can give out some probably incorrect information...

Well, I gave this a some thought last night. I can understand why non-Catholics are denied Communion though they are invited to stay at for the Mass. To receive Communion one must be in sync with the teachings of the Church because the Church feels that they are most correct and closest to God. One must want to strive to be one with the Church to receive that benefit and joy from the hands of the Church. Thus a non-Catholic is denied Communion because they would be receiving the benefit without doing any of the work and not being the best that they can be. Yet, they are still invited to Mass and prayer because doing just that moves them closer to being one with the Church. Plus, prayers and scripture are pretty universal anyway amongst the Judeo-Christian spectrum and even a non-Christian can still be in general agreement on many issues and pray for the greater good along with the Church. So attending Mass is fine. Now doing the actual funeral right is also OK because the whole point of moving to be one with the Church is moot. The deceased has pretty much moved as close they will ever get. Denying the funeral right does nothing to save their soul. Plus, the whole point is to move the soul closer to the Church, ie closer to God. Therefore giving the Catholic rights of funeral ultimately makes that one final push to being in sync with the Church.

I hope that I made sense there. :