Funeral eulogies

Funeral eulogies

Greg O'Regan

Recently a much-publicised funeral service for a well-known figure was conducted at St John's Church, Campbelltown, near Sydney. Funerals of public figures are well-attended affairs characterised by solidarity for the deceased and family. This occasion differed insofar as one of the five eulogists took advantage of his privilege to gloss over and promote the sin of homosexuality. In so doing, the eulogist challenged publicly the teachings of the Catholic Church regarding chastity and, it seems, without redress.

Clearly eulogies may be used inappropriately. Yet their insertion into Catholic funeral ceremonies seems to have at least tacit permission in spite of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM editions 1975 Section 338, 2003 section 382) which states: "At the funeral Mass there should as a rule be a short homily, but never a eulogy of any kind." It would be a grievous misinterpretation to imply that the phrase "as a rule", allows any flexibility to the rule. This is not to say that the Church opposes eulogies. They have their place and purpose in other situations but they have been ruled out of church rituals for the deceased.

The event at St John's should highlight the need to abolish eulogies at Catholic funeral Masses, in conformity with the GIRM, and to return to the raison d'├ętre for the involvement of the Church, namely to pray by the highest means of worship in its power for the repose of the soul of the deceased.

Farrer, ACT

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