Relevant Principles

  1. All ecclesiastical funerals are offered for sinners. The Church, as a generous mother, is eager to intercede for her children even when they have wandered.
  2. The Church requires her funeral celebrations to be real signs of faith and to be respectful of the conscience and decisions of those who have died.
  3. The Church does celebrate Christian funerals for those known to have committed suicide. We are not able to judge the reason the person has taken that decision or the disposition of their heart.

Considerations and Discernment

The priest may gently deny a funeral request if he discerns that:

  • The decision has brought the person to an action that is contrary to the Christian faith.
  • The person or action is “notorious” (can be proven without further investigation) and public.
  • The family intends to use the funeral to celebrate the decision of their loved one and to promote euthanasia and assisted suicide as acceptable.
  • The action could encourage others to engage in this evil and, thereby, would do harm to the Christian community and the larger culture.

The priest may offer a funeral if he discerns that:

  • The family did not will the assisted suicide or euthanasia of their loved one, and is looking to the Church for assistance and comfort.
  • There would not be cause for public scandal (Canon 1184).

If the official funeral rites are denied, the priest may use his pastoral judgement to propose:

  • A liturgy of the Word at the funeral home.
  • Simple prayers at the graveside might be proposed.
  • A memorial mass for the repose of the deceased’s soul at a later date