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A suicide priest

June 27, 2007

The Pio-Benedictine Code prohibited ecclesiastical funeral rites for those who “killed themselves by deliberate counsel.” 1917 CIC 1240.1.3. Phrased to protect those who might have killed themselves unintentionally (even if recklessly), this canon would nevertheless have probably prevented Catholic funeral rites for Fr. William Rosensteel, who jumped from a bridge shortly before sex abuse allegations against him were to be investigated by civil authorities. The Johanno-Pauline Code, however, contains no such restriction (1983 CIC 1184), so an ecclesiastical funeral can be permitted this suicide priest – – – notwithstanding that he has left a host of innocent people to deal with the consequences of his actions.

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