Aug 27, 2009

Should abortion supporters be denied a Catholic burial?

Should abortion supporters be denied a Catholic burial? Yes. Jjust as canon law excludes law makers who support abortion from Holy Communion during life, then it follows that these people are still subject to excommunication during death.

Here are the Church laws that are on point:
A funeral Mass can be celebrated for most Catholics, but there are some specific cases in which canon law requires the denial of a funeral Mass. Canons 1184-1185 say:
"Canon 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.
"§2. If any doubt occurs, the local ordinary is to be consulted, and his judgment must be followed.
"Canon 1185. Any funeral Mass must also be denied a person who is excluded from ecclesiastical funerals."
In fact, these strictures are rarely applied. In part, this is because many sinners do show signs of repentance before death.
Likewise, the canons are open to some interpretation. In No. 1184 §1 notorious would mean publicly known. Therefore someone who had abandoned the faith and joined some other group would be denied a funeral; someone who harbored private doubts or disagreements would not.
Cases of those who choose cremation for reasons contrary to the faith are extremely rare and are hard to prove (see the follow-up in our column of Nov. 29, 2005).
The most delicate cases are those in No. 1184 §1.3. Many canonists say that for denial of a funeral the person must be both widely known to be living in a state of grave sin and that holding a Church funeral would cause scandal.
About a year ago in Italy the Church denied an ecclesiastical funeral for a nationally known campaigner for euthanasia who requested and obtained the removal of his life-support system. In this case the request for a funeral for someone who was only nominally Catholic was in itself a publicity stunt for the organization behind the campaign. Likewise, someone subject to excommunication or interdict (for example, a Catholic abortionist) would be denied a funeral.
Given the severity of the requirements for denial of an ecclesiastical funeral, people in irregular marriages and suicides should not usually be denied a funeral. In such cases denial of the funeral is more likely than not to be counterproductive and cause unnecessary misunderstanding and bitterness. The Church intercedes for the soul and leaves final judgment to God.
Analogous to the funeral Mass are anniversary Masses which are somewhat in between an intention and a funeral Mass. Although, strictly speaking, these would not fall under the prohibitions mentioned in Canon 1184, such Masses should not be given publicity if the person had been denied a funeral.
With respect to non-Catholic Christians the local bishop may permit a funeral in some cases as specified in the Ecumenical Directory 120: "In the prudent judgment of the local Ordinary, the funeral rites of the Catholic Church may be granted to members of a non-Catholic Church or ecclesial Community, unless it is evidently contrary to their will and provided that their own minister is unavailable, and that the general provisions of Canon Law do not forbid it (see Can. 1183,3)."
Regarding the first and third cases presented by our reader, we can also refer to Canon 1183:
"Canon 1183 §1. When it concerns funerals, catechumens must be counted among the Christian faithful.
"§2. The local ordinary can permit children whom the parents intended to baptize but who died before baptism to be given ecclesiastical funerals."
This would apply both to the person who had intended to receive baptism but was prevented by death as well as to the person whose baptism was uncertain but was active in the Church.
In the first case the funeral liturgy may be celebrated as usual, only omitting language referring directly to the sacrament. The same would apply to the second case, but omission of mentioning the sacrament should be done only if the fact that the person had never been baptized could be established with some degree of certainty.
The foundation for this is the doctrine of baptism of desire in which the Church believes that a soul who explicitly desired the sacrament will receive all the graces of baptism at the moment of death, except for the sacramental character. This last is not given because it is directly orientated toward the exercise of worship during the course of life.

Source http://www.zenit.org/rssenglish-26626

No comments:

Recent Posts

Popular Posts

Blog Archive