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A note on Madison’s funeral policy

October 25, 2017

One might be willing to have an informed and dispassionate discussion (that pretty much rules out 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*, or about whether these points are generally correctly understood by the faithful, but about whether persons who enter civil “same-sex marriage” qualify as “manifest sinners” under canon law, no, that is simply not a question.

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. 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. + + +

* “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.

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