Skip to comments.[Catholic Caucus] Breaking law once hardly justifies breaking it twice
Posted on 11/11/2018 2:18:47 PM PST by ebb tide
If Pope Francis wants to change the canon law forbidding ecclesiastical funeral rites for manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without scandal (1983 CIC 1184 § 1 n. 1) he can do so. Till then Church law forbidding such funerals, a law that dates back many centuries, remains in effect, and its apparent gross violation last week by clergy of the Archdiocese of Boston, who (seemingly with approval from the chancery), granted notorious mob murderer James Whitey Bulger a Catholic funeral Mass, hardly justifies granting Church funerals to other manifest sinners who do not give some signs of repentance before deathwhich no one claims Bulger gavenot that that fact gave James Martin, sj, any pause before tweeting Bulgers funeral as preemptive justification for Church funerals for LGBT person[s even though] they are married.
To be sure, few priests and prelates seem willing to observe even the softened canon law restricting ecclesiastical funerals that has been in effect since 1983. One bishop who did observe it was Brooklyn Bp. Thomas Daily who denied ecclesiastical funeral rites to John the Dapper Don Gotti, an American Mafia chieftain who died in prison in 2001. I defended Dailys refusal here: Edward Peters, Lest amateurs argue canon law: a reply to Patrick Gordons brief against Bp. Thomas Daily, Angelicum 83 (2006) 121-142, on-line here. In accord with canon law (e.g., 1983 CIC 901), I would note, a later memorial Mass was permitted for Gotti (just as one would be permitted for Bulger and Martins same-sex spouses). But other bishops who think that canon law means what canon law says, besides Madison WI Bp. Morlino and Springfield IL Bp. Paprocki, seem few.
Now, to be clear (in case some folks think law means always having to say No) following the canon law on funerals does not always mean refusing such rites in controversial cases. For example, in 2009 the Archdiocese of Boston accorded the notoriously pro-abortion, etc., Sen. Edward Kennedy a Church funeral, a decision I defended as being within the law given public evidence that Kennedy had met the admittedly very low canonical standards for giving signs of repentance prior to his death. See Edward Peters, Still trying to get the Kennedy funeral lessons right, Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly 34/1 (Spring 2011) 57-59. As I said, though, no such claims were offered re Bulger.
So if all of this boils down to, the canon law on funerals is not well understood for clergy or laity, and it might be pastorally more trouble than its worth, I say, okay, then explain and enforce the law as is, or modify, re-explain, and enforce a reformed law. But dont leave the law in place, yet disregarded. There are good reasons for and against the law as writtenpace, I would say, murder-suicides, and especially family annihilators like Steven Suepple, cases for which no justification, I think, can be foundbut for the rest I am willing to hear arguments for and against. So are many thoughtful others.
Till then, however, manifest sinners such as Whitey Bulger should not be accorded Church funeral rites and media priests such as Martin should not parlay violations of canon law into a reason to violate it again. That spreads disrespect for law and for the values it seeks to uphold; it implies that breaking the law itself justifies breaking it again. Of that mentality we need no more.
And may James Bulger, and his dozen-plus victims, rest in peace.
Whitey Bulger (!) John Gotti (!) - two upstanding Catholics who lived and propagated the Faith by their behavior - hmmm.
The link provided did not explain how a memorial Mass is different from a funeral Mass.
Does a ‘memorial’ meet the standards of all other Masses?
*What is the difference between a Funeral Mass and a Memorial Mass?*
A Funeral Mass has the body of the deceased or the cremated remains of the deceased present and has all the special prayers attributed to that Mass. When the body or the cremated remains are not present it is called a Memorial Mass.
So I answered my own question.
My question to you is this: if a person requests a Mass be celebrated with the intentions naming a notorious murderer, Can a priest refuse to take part in that Mass?
Would that priest be obliged to speak the words of consecration while holding a place in his heart for unrepentant, evil, murdering “Catholics”?
I have an analogous question: since one of the corporal works of mercy is to bury the dead, then if one is not permittted to have a funeral Mass, what is done for such a deceased individual?
They are buried without a mass.
What I don't understand is Peters' prior defense of the disgraceful funeral Mass, but one fit for Catholic royalty, offered for the baby butcher, Ted Kennedy; and I noticed Peters, although he provided many links, did not link to his own article defending that funeral.
P.S. Obama gave a eulogy at that funeral Mass for Kennedy.
Dig 6 feet
I found the above article of Peter's. He states the following reason that Kennedy's funeral was licit:
Mark Leibovich of the New York Times notes that, among things, The Rev. Mark Hession, the priest at the Kennedys parish on the Cape, made regular visits to the Kennedy home this summer and held a private family Mass in the living room every Sunday. Even in his final days, Mr. Kennedy led the family in prayer after the death of his sister Eunice . . . [and when] the senators condition took a turn Tuesday night a priest, the Rev. Patrick Tarrant of Our Lady of Victory Church in Centerville, was called to his bedside.
My contention is that a notorius public sinner needs to make public repentance for his notorius sins; e.g., a public pronouncement that abortion is evil, it is murder, I repent of having voted for abortion, for my 100% approval rating by NARAL, and I now encourage all citizens to vote pro-life to protect the unborn.
But he noted that, according to Canon Law, a funeral Mass is to be denied to a notorious public grave sinner, only when there is no sign of repentance.
Apparently Kennedy received the Last Rites before he died, which ---= being a manifest outward sign of faith, and which entails absolution from sins --- requires us to hope in charity that he was repentant.
And so, on the narrowest grounds (Canon Law) Kennedy was entitled to a funeral Mass.
But there's much to object to concerning the size, scope and style of Mass he had. Peters does not neglect to note that this was flagrantly hypocritical and disgusting.
I remember the Kennedy abomination, the spectacle, the accolades, etc.
Being a New Yorker, I also remember the Catholic send-off given to Governor Mario Cuomo
His wake was held on January 5, 2015, and his funeral was held at Saint Ignatius Loyola Church in Manhattan on January 6.
Cuomo, a Roman Catholic, was personally opposed to abortion, but he was pro-choice on the issue, believing that the State does not have the right to ban it.
In a speech at the University of Notre Dame on September 13, 1984, he used the statements of the American Catholic hierarchy to make an argument: What is ideally desirable isnt always feasible, ... there can be different political approaches to abortion besides unyielding adherence to an absolute prohibition.
For this position, Cardinal John Joseph OConnor considered excommunicating him.
He is interred at St. John RC Cemetery , in Middle Village, Queens.
” My contention is that a notorious public sinner needs to make public repentance for his notorious sins ...”
We don’t know if that was discussed at his last confession, I sure hope it was!
I disagree. Notorius public sinners who have misled numerous others into sin (including murder), need to make public the wrongs they have wrought and, in the case of politicians, let his voters know how to vote in the future.
Kennedy never made a public apology or repentance for his votes for abortion. He never instructed people to vote pro-life on his deathbed.
Private Last Rites for notorious public sinners doesn’t cut it for notorious sinners when they have been provided ample time to make public ammends.
If it was discussed, Kennedy never followed through.
If is wasn't discussed, shame on the priest who continued on with Last Rites for an unrepentant sinner.
But as it stands --- and remember Peters writes as a canon lawyer who has to interpret it as it stands --- what we're looking for is a manifest sign of repentance. A Catholic who has requested the Sacraments and has been absolved of his sins, is considered to have shown this outward "sign" of repentance.
We can't guess about his interior disposition.
Of course, he might never have truly repented. However, all the Church can go by, is what is manifest, not what is hidden in the heart. And as the law stands, all you need is "a" "sign," and, as you know, that's what a Sacrament is: an outward sign established by Christ to give grace.
IMHO, in any case it ought to have been a private Mass in the Kennedy compound chapel, with 50 kinfolk in attendance and no media.
Pray for mercy and skip the microphines, the massed choirs and the grand procession of highest-perched hierarchs.
Leon Suprenant puts the entire question to rest quite capably here. He quotes St. John Chrysostom, an Early Church Father who lived from 347 to 407 A.D. Chrysostom writes:
I speak not only to the communicant, but also I say to the priest who ministers the Sacrament: Distribute this gift with much care. There is no small punishment for you, if being conscious of any wickedness in any man, you allow him to partake of the banquet of the table: Shall I not now require his blood at your hand? (2 Sam. 4:11). If some public figure, or some wealthy person who is unworthy, presents himself to receive Holy Communion, forbid him. The authority that you have is greater than his. Consider if your task were to guard a clean spring of water for a flock, and you saw a sheep approach with mire on its mouthyou would not allow it to stoop down and pollute the stream. You are now entrusted with a spring, not of water, but of blood and of spirit. If you see someone having sin in his heart (which is far more grievous than earth and mire), coming to receive the Eucharist, are you not concerned? Do you try to prevent him? What excuse can you have, if you do not?
The saint then explains that:
You ask how you should know which individual is unworthy to receive? I am speaking here not of some unknown sinner, but of a notorious one. If someone who is not a disciple, through ignorance, comes to Communion, do not be afraid to forbid him. Fear God, not man. If you fear man, you will be scorned and laughed at even by him; but if you fear God, you will be an object of respect even to men. But if you cannot do it, bring that sinner to me, for I will not allow anyone to dare do these things. I would give up my life rather than give the Lords Blood to the unworthy.
He then clarifies that theres no sin in offering the Eucharist to someone who turns out to be an unrepentant sinner, but who the priest didnt realize was at the time. He then explains why this denial of Communion is so important, listing two reasons (neither of which, interestingly, are to help out the Republican Party):
I say the things above concerning only those who sin openly. For if we amend these, God will speedily reveal to us the unknown also; but if we let these flagrant abuses continue, how can we expect Him to make manifest those that are hidden? I say these things, not to repel sinners or cut them off, but I say it in order that we may being them to repentance, and bring them back, so that we may take care of them. For thus we shall both please God and lead many to receive worthily. And for our own diligence, and for our care for others, we will receive a great reward. May we attain that reward by the grace and love that God gives to man through Our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory, world without end. Amen.
In other words, St. John Chrysostom says we need to do this for the sake of folks like John Kerry, and those who follow in his bad example in forming their opinions. The rest of Leons post is worth reading, as is his follow-up.
Turns out, those Bishops who deny the Eucharist to unrepentant advocates of intrinsic evil are doing exactly what the Church has prescribed from the time of the Apostles onwards to avoid the sin mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:27 of eating the Body of the Lord unworthily. It is instead those like Fr. Greeley who want the Church to jettison Her traditional teachings, and reduce issues like abortion to the level of prudential judgments like death penalty and just war.
Thanks for this.
THOSE ON WHOM THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK IS TO BE CONFERRED
Can. 1004 §1. The anointing of the sick can be administered to a member of the faithful who, having reached the use of reason, begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age.
§2. This sacrament can be repeated if the sick person, having recovered, again becomes gravely ill or if the condition becomes more grave during the same illness.
Can. 1005 This sacrament is to be administered in a case of doubt whether the sick person has attained the use of reason, is dangerously ill, or is dead.
Can. 1006 This sacrament is to be conferred on the sick who at least implicitly requested it when they were in control of their faculties.
Can. 1007 The anointing of the sick is not to be conferred upon those who persevere obstinately in manifest grave sin.
That's the scary part. Bergoglio can change canon law at his whim; although for years as a bishop, he ignored the law by washing the feet of women and non-catholics on Holy Thursday. He continued to ignore the law the first few years of his papacy until he did change the law to his liking. Franicis' motto should be, "Laws should be made to be broken, and I will then make the breaks the new law".
If, in extremis, he confessed his sin and repented, we would not know because the priest would be unable to tell us--- isn't that true?
I'm not saying I've seen or heard any evidence of this. I'm just saying it's possible.
And even if it were so --- as I said before --- they should have had a private funeral Mass with family only: not the ostentatious display which had the appearance of moral indifference and gross sacrilege, and which scandalized so many.
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