Canonist Ed Peters contributes: A note on Madison’s funeral policy

From the spasmodic reactions of hysterical homosexualists and their abettors, you would think that the chancery personnel in the Diocese of Madison were clubbing babies… no, that wouldn’t be so bad…. baby seals … no, gay baby seals and eating their beating hearts … while cranking up sinful air conditioning…. in October… in Wisconsin.

And then denying them funerals.

However, what the Diocese of Madison has suggested to pastors of parishes in regard to funerals for manifest sinners (which includes homosexual couples) is entirely consistent with the Church’s laws.  Moreover, what was sent out to the priests of the diocese – including a Judas – was judicious, prudent and pastoral to a fault.

Here is canonist Ed Peters on the matter from his exceptionally helpful blog In The Light Of The Law:

A note on Madison’s funeral policy

One might be willing to have an informed and dispassionate discussion (that pretty much rules out the internet) [most of the internet] about whether Canon 1184, (which in mildly obtuse terms denies ecclesiastical funeral rites to “manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful”) reflects a good understanding of what ecclesiastical funerals do and don’t accomplish for the dead and their familiars*, [a matter for legitimate discussion] or about whether these points are generally correctly understood by the faithful, [I’m pretty sure they aren’t – but this is now a “teaching moment”.] but about whether persons who enter civil “same-sex marriage” qualify as “manifest sinners” under canon law, no, that is simply not a question[Marriages are public matters.  Homosexual unions that ape marriages are scandalous.]

Analysis of the terms used in Canon 1184 essentially tracks that used to understand Canon 915 and, as has been demonstrated many times, persons who enter “same-sex marriage” plainly manifest their opposition to crucial and infallible Church teaching that restricts marriage to one man and one woman. [OBVIOUS.] The positions taken by Springfield IL Bp. Paprocki and by the Diocese of Madison, restricting funerals in such cases and outlining possible exceptions to those restrictions, are thoroughly consistent with the canon law of the Catholic Church. + + +  [BAM… drop the keyboard!]

* “I should like to interject a comforting remark at this stage. It should not be forgotten that [even] an error in this matter of denying Christian burial has none of the consequences that could arise from a refusal to grant the sacraments. This law is purely of the external forum, and the external state of the soul is in no way determined by it. Where the reception of the sacraments may mean the difference between salvation and damnation, Christian burial cannot decide the eternal status of a soul which is already before God, and beyond the power of the Church either to save or to condemn.” Charles Kerin, “Christian Burial Problems” The Jurist 15 (1955) 252-282, at 262.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. vandalia says:

    For the record, I strongly support the decision of the Diocese of Madison. The law and the facts permit no other conclusion, although, as mentioned, the necessary exceptions are in place.

    However, is it time to reconsider the role of “scandal” in the law? Can people be scandalized anymore? Are we, at least in the West, at a time where the faithful simply cannot be scandalized? (Which in itself is a scandal.)

    Many of the provisions of Canon Law that are described in Canon 18 are based implicitly or explicitly on the concept of “scandal to the faithful.” But if scandal does not exist, is there a crime? In the civil realm, we outlaw politicians taking bribes not on the basis that it causes “scandal”, but rather on the belief that it is dangerous to our society, and our system of government, and/or “just isn’t right.”

    In the next revision to the Code of Canon Law, is it time to change the law in such cases to prohibit activities not because they causes “scandal”, but rather because such things are inherently wrong? It seems to me that there is a subjective component placed in these laws where there does not need to be one. (I write this keeping in mind my post on Canon Law in general, and leave open the option I don’t have a clue as to what I am talking about.)

    [If one is truly concerned with salvation of souls, you do both. You work against things that are inherently wrong and you work against the spread of things that are inherently wrong. We often cannot stop sin, but we can try to limit its deleterious effects. Hence, we must have canons that concern “scandal”.]

  2. Rich says:

    Perhaps also considering what Amoris Laetitia has to add on this matter would be helpful:

    “In discussing the dignity and mission of the family, the Synod Fathers observed that, ‘as for proposals to place unions between homosexual persons on the same level as marriage, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family’.” (251)

  3. Suburbanbanshee says:

    “Scandal” means “a stumblingblock.” Refusing to teach and act out Church teaching will cause a lot of people to stumble, uninformed Catholic and uninformed unbelievers alike.

  4. tho says:

    Common sense should work in this situation. The AIDS pandemic was started, caused and prolonged by promiscuous homosexuality. Until not too many years ago homosexuality was considered a mental disease. Man is the only animal that practices this vile act. There is no sane parent who would wish to have a homosexual son or daughter. You would have to be a cohort of Satan to want this perversion normalized. Charity demands that we embrace all fallen sinners, ourselves included, but it is a false charity not to condemn this act.

  5. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    There are numerous animal species in which homosexual activity has been observed in nature. The bonobo apes are particularly notorious in their non reproductive sexual acts even among members of the same sex.

    I am not arguing against you or for homosexuality, but we need must have our facts straight, so to speak.

  6. tho says:

    As far as animals purposely setting out to perform a homosexual act is nothing but pro-homosexual propaganda. For many years I owned race horse, and both bred and trained them, and of course there were false mounting by dumb animals. There are many curious things done by dumb animals, but to ascribe a purposeful homosexuality to any one of them is a direct contradiction of natural law and common sense. But as an act of charity I forgive your naivety.

  7. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I disagree. And your personal experience with horses is irrelevant to my statement.

    I do not take the easy route of simply labeling what I disagree with as propaganda from something I dislike.

    Post-Fall, we live in a broken world full of broken people and a broken animal kingdom as well. In Eden, I am sure the animals didn’t eat babies or rip children’s faces off but I’ve seen plenty of this in my career as a physician having to suture up mutilated children’s faces from animal attacks.

    Animals do not follow a perfectly ordered exercise of their natural inclinations as though they were robotic automatons in a prelapsarian paradise. It is true that animals in general follow their instincts with less excess or disorder than humans do because they lack the rational capacity for creative excess. But animals can behave inordinantly as when they eat their young, play with / torture prey before killing, eat until vomiting or sickness, engage in non reproductive sexual acts as is described from observation or, as the scriptures attest, foolishly return to eat their own vomit. Bonobo apes do in fact purposefully engage in acts of pollution with members of the same sex.

    I studied this data when I obtained my degree in biology so I do not require your “charitable forgiveness” of my supposed naiveté and would instead prefer you keep your poorly veiled sarcasm to yourself.

    Now, I am finished as I am sure Fr. Z does not want his comments section devolving into National Schismatic Reporter style infighting.

  8. Fr_Andrew says:

    Father, I am shocked! People need to know the Truth!

    I can’t believe you’re withholding it, so I feel it my duty to inform your readers :

    They were homeless transsexual baby seals who had been denied their life’s dream operation by the Little Sisters of the Poor thanks to Trump’s undermining ObamaCare. They are now not only dead, but mercilessly unfulfilled!

    And worse, those chancery officers were smoking tobacco (!) when they were enjoying those baby seal hearts.

    Oh, the humanity …

  9. hwriggles4 says:

    This may be an elephant in the living room question, but would a man and a woman who have been living together for years without marriage be “manifest sinners” under Canon Law? I ask this because:

    1. Today, many older couples are living together without being married. Quite a few are widows and widowers, who choose not to marry in part (I’ve heard) due to financial issues. A widow is scared to lose her deceased husband’s pension, and I’ve heard that (sadly) the government seems to penalize those older couples who re-marry (i.e. reduced social security).

    2. This is a widespread problem, and affects pastors across the board. Not just Catholic priests, but Protestant pastors as well. Several of these older couples (i.e. senior citizens) who are obviously passed childbearing age think living together is no big deal, and good priests (and good ministers) do remind them that chastity and purity apply to them as well, even though procreation is virtually impossible.

    3. Some of these Catholic couples may be in an irregular marriage, particularly in a situation where one party has a spouse still living, even if a civil divorce took place 40 years ago.

    4. Many senior citizens regularly attend funerals. My mother told me recently that you know you are getting older when you get invited to more funerals.

    Just a thought…it seems like a worthwhile question, and seems more commonplace at funerals than it was say, 20 years ago.

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  11. iamlucky13 says:

    hrwiggles, yes, depending on the circumstances, such people can be denied a Catholic funeral, and in fact, not only funerals, which are not a sacrament, but even Communion.

    There’s some related past discussion of that by Dr. Peters in the link for the text “Canon 1184” in the entry Father quoted although I don’t think any specifically on divorce and remarriage.

    From Father Z’s own Canon 1184 tag link, there’s also some past discussion specifically on divorce and remarriage here.

    It’s probably worth emphasizing the statement in the latter link that denying a funeral is a serious matter not to be taken lightly, but in consultation with the bishop if necessary.

    I think it’s also worth mentioning that the maligned document from the Diocese of Madison also urges caution before denying a funeral, and even provides some input on how to handle funerals for Catholics whose lifestyle presents concerns not serious enough to warrant denial of a funeral.

  12. Ave Crux says:

    They will stop at nothing. Now there is a petition to have Bishop Morlino removed. Are you aware of this, Father Z.? Surely the Church won’t back down on this?

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