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Saturday, January 8, 2011

From over at "...the hell with it...

The Ranter, over at ...the hell with it posted this and asked for clarification from yours truly....

I was watching a PBS documentary on Augusto Pinochet and his rule in Chile. I just caught the last 20 minutes of it or so, but even so to realize the atrocities he purportedly committed. In the last moments of the documentary though, they show the end of Pinochet's life, including his funeral. What interested me (obviously from the title of this post) is that it looked like he had an outdoor Church funeral. I'm trying to find out more information about that part. There's this article from the BBC, where at the end, they quote Santiago Archbishop Francisco Errazuriz:

Church leaders have said that his death is a chance for national reconciliation. It was time "to pray for the soul of Gen Pinochet, but also for the soul of Chile," Santiago Archbishop Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz said. 

Okay, here's this article from CBC News, where they state:

The funeral, held in a sunny outdoor courtyard at the Santiago military college, did not include state honours. It was led by Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, who told the crowd that Pinochet was an exemplary former head of state.

Roughly 20,000 people spent hours waiting in the sun Monday outside the military college waiting for a chance to walk by the former general's glass-topped casket. Three masses were held in front of his casket.

(If the three Masses held in front of his casket were private Masses, then I have no problem with those Masses, because I hope they were offered for the salvation of his soul.)

Cardinal Raul Silva Henriquez was an outspoken opponent of his, but died before Pinochet did. Would he have approved of the Church in Chile allowing Pinochet a funeral?

So, my question is: When can funeral rites be denied for obstinate or unrepentant or public sinners? If they won't be denied for someone who had people tortured and killed, when can they be denied? I'm sending this post over to A Traditional Catholic in Iowa, aka Andy Milam, to see what he says.
My response was this:

Traditionally, Catholic funerals are denied to the unbaptized (note that catechumens, including infants whose parents planned on having them baptized, are baptized by desire, and that martyrs are baptized by blood); infidels; heretics; suicides (unless they were of unsound mind or showed signs of repentance); notorious, unrepentant sinners; the excommunicated; the schismatic; those under ecclesiastical censure; those who, without remorse, have openly held the sacraments in contempt; and those who've directed that their bodies be cremated. Now, there are a couple of caveats that must go into this....first, if someone shows signs of remorse, or if they have regularized before the time of death, then all of the proscriptions are moot.

Let's look at a couple of canons in the CIC (Code of Canon Law):

Can. 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.

Can. 1185 Any funeral Mass must also be denied a person who is excluded from ecclesiastical funerals.

(Note: Can. 1183 §3 strangely allows for baptized heretics to be given a Catholic funeral "provided their own minister is not available" and assuming it isn't established that they wouldn't want a Catholic funeral, all at the discretion of the Bishop -- but then in Can. 1184 §1 goes to say that "notorious heretics" can't have a Catholic funeral. As opposed to out and out refusal of a Catholic funeral for those who request their bodies be cremated, Can. 1184 §1 says that Catholic funerals are denied to those "who for anti­christian motives choose that their bodies be cremated." Admittedly that is a little wierd, and I have submitted this to Canon Lawyer for explanation...)

So, what are we to make of this...if someone is outside the Church he cannot be given a Catholic burial, nor can he be buried on consecrated ground. Ultimately, it falls on the Ordinary to make the judgment, trust that your Ordinary will make the proper judgment.

The rube of all of this is that it falls on the Ordinary.  If the Ordinary makes the proper judgment, then there is no reason to worry.  We have to trust that the Ordinary will make the right decision.

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