Canadian archbishop bans eulogies at funeral Masses

TORONTO (RNS) Roman Catholics in Ottawa are no longer permitted to deliver eulogies during funeral Masses, the local archbishop has decreed.
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, Ontario, speaks during an interview in Turin, Italy, in this April 27, 2010, file photo. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, Ontario, speaks during an interview in Turin, Italy, in this April 27, 2010 file photo. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service


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The Feb. 2 decree from Archbishop Terrence Prendergast reminds the faithful that Catholics gather at funerals “not to praise the deceased, but to pray for them.” Contrary to popular belief, eulogies “are not part of the Catholic funeral rites, particularly in the context of a funeral liturgy within Mass,” the decree stated. Many Catholics, it pointed out, do not know this. Priests are “strongly” urged to encourage Catholics to speak publicly about loved ones outside the Mass — at funeral homes, receptions, or in a parish hall. In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., Prendergast conceded that eulogies at Catholic funerals “had crept in” but that “technically, the books that guide us don’t allow them.” Eulogies are “words of praise without reference to God,” he stated, while a Mass “is an act of faith.” However, Prendergast said the church was facing increasing pressure from families to have more, and even multiple, eulogies at funerals. To that end, a compromise was reached: The decree permits “words of remembrance” to be delivered, but with three conditions: They must be spoken at the beginning of the liturgy; must be one page of text taking three to four minutes to read, with mention of the deceased’s “life of faith”; and they should be read from a place other than where Scriptures are recited. Prendergast said Catholics have lost the “sense of the importance of the funeral Mass, that we pray for the person. Most people when they go, they canonize the person. I hope they won’t say that about me because I know I’m only going to get into heaven with the prayers of the faithful.” Elsewhere in Canada, a similar situation arose in 2003, when the bishop of Calgary, Fred Henry, issued a pastoral letter banning eulogies at Catholic funeral Masses. YS/AMB END CSILLAG The post Canadian archbishop bans eulogies at funeral Masses appeared first on Religion News Service.

3 Responses to “Canadian archbishop bans eulogies at funeral Masses”

  1. Patrick O'Gara

    “…I know I’m only going to get into heaven with the prayers of the faithful.” “

    What?
    If the faithful don’t pray for him – God will let the Cardinal go to Hell?
    Supposing there’s nobody to pray for him?
    Toast, I suppose.

  2. jules of Holy Toledo

    It seems that Eulogies are a great time to either praise or slam the stiff….regardless of whether they might need prayers or not!
    Shakespeare knew the drill….
    “Friends, Romans, countrymen, give me your attention. I have come here to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do is remembered after their deaths, but the good is often buried with them. It might as well be the same with Caesar.”

    …observer Jules…..

  3. Zappa912

    Actually, after attending many Catholic funeral services over the years, it is a rarity that the priest celebrating the funeral Mass actually knows the deceased. Praying for the redemption and salvation of the soul of the deceased certainly may be the purpose of the funeral Mass. I should remind you that the garments worn at the funeral Mass by the priest used to be black until the Second Vatican Council changed them to white, and that the funeral Mass was more like a dirge ( The music of the Requiem–Dies Irae ) than the celebration that is is today. So those were major changes in the funeral ritual, dictated by humans, not Jesus. But as far as the priest saying anything remotely personal about the good qualities of the dearly departed, in the old days or now, and why that person will be missed by friends and family, don’t count on it. It just makes sense for those personal remarks to be made when the family and friends are gathered for the Catholic funeral Mass. Whether before the service, after the service, or during the service. An opportunity for those who wish to express positive comments about the deceased should be offered at every Catholic funeral Mass celebration. I have attended dozens of Catholic funeral Masses, and I have never heard a negative comment made about the deceased where friends or family were permitted to make comments. The Church’s inclination to establish rules//rituals for everything, such as Prendergast’s rules, even though the rules//rituals were not specified by Jesus, makes the the commenting process at a Catholic funeral Mass celebration much more cumbersome than it should be. Just another way for the fathers of the Church to impose their burdensome and unnecessary will. No more Prendergast rules please.

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