Archbishop Bans Eulogies at Funeral Masses

Canadian Catholic Archbishop Terrence Prendergast:

Roman Catholics in Ottawa are no longer permitted to deliver eulogies during funeral Masses, the local archbishop has decreed.

The Feb. 2 decree from Archbishop Terrence Prendergast reminds the faithful that Catholics gather at funerals “not to praise the deceased, but to pray for them.”

Contrary to popular belief, eulogies “are not part of the Catholic funeral rites, particularly in the context of a funeral liturgy within Mass,” the decree stated. Many Catholics, it pointed out, do not know this.

Rest here.


Nelson Mandela Laid to Rest in Ancestral Home


QUNU – Nelson Mandela has been laid to rest in his ancestral village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

Mandela’s coffin was brought to his funeral by the military – a last chance for the people of Qunu to see it. In the hills above the village, lay a flag with a simple message: “Hamba kahle Madiba” – Go well, father of the nation.

We’ll miss your smile, your laugh, your love and your leadership. Hamba kahle, Madiba.
His abaThembu brethren buried him in front of family and close comrades in the ANC.

SA National Defence Force chaplain Reverend Monwabisi Jamangile said at the burial that Mandela had truly achieved ultimate freedom.

“We will remember Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela,” he said while praying for him before his coffin was lowered into the grave.

“Rest in peace. Yours was truly a long walk to freedom and now you have achieved the ultimate freedom in the bosom of your leader, God Almighty.”

Jamangile asked that God soothe the family in this time of grief, when their longing for Mandela became unbearable.

The military honour guard marked the occasion by firing a 21 gun salute.

President Jacob Zuma, Mandela’s widow Graça Machel and his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela were among the 4,500 dignitaries who attended the preceding funeral service.

Madiba’s close friend, Ahmed Kathrada, spoke of visiting him in hospital and how Madiba’s death left him feeling abandoned.

“How I wish I could not have seen what I saw, a man reduced to a shadow of his former self,” Kathrada said. “Farewell, my brother, my mentor, my leader. When Walter [Sisulu] died I lost a father, when Nelson died, I lost a brother. My life is in a void and I don’t know who to turn to.”

Zuma began his tribute with a moving hymn, saying his final farewell to Mandela.

“We’ll miss your smile, your laugh, your love and your leadership. Hamba kahle, Madiba.”


Cape Town: Bull to be Slaughtered for Funeral Kills Boy

Times Live:

Ayanda Mfenku was attacked by the bull while standing in his yard in Philippi East on Sunday morning, the Cape Argus newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The bull was reportedly to have been used in the funeral ritual of Jackson Ntandiso, who died last week, but it broke loose.

“The raging bull shoved and injured an old man who was trying to force it into the yard, and it ran off frantically down the street, knocking over everyone who tried to get close to it,” Ntandiso’s daughter Yandiso was quoted as telling the newspaper.

“As it ran down the street, people moved out of the way and shouted for kids and drunken people to get out of its way.”

According to the Cape Argus, the bull entered Mfenku’s yard, gored him in the back and threw him against a wall. He died later in hospital.

The bull reportedly died overnight from shock and stress.


Priest to Lonely Dead: ‘I Love You’

No one Mary Helen Wells knew was at her funeral.

The physical sum of her 85 years filled a donated urn Monday afternoon, among 36 other donated urns full of unwanted remains. A kindly priest said prayers and stowed them in a crypt. A groundskeeper sealed it, and the mourners, gathered on principle, dispersed.

In South Florida, hundreds die every year without a survivor to claim them. The causes vary: liver failure, dementia. One homeless man died in 2011 when an industrial oven he was helping someone carry crushed him. Strangers — funeral homes or government workers — hold their bodies.

The Rev. Gabriel Ghanoum claims them. The local Catholic priest gives a ceremony for a new group of the lonely dead every few months. He says to their ashes, “I can tell all of you, each one, that I love you.” He blessed each little box with the tips of his fingers.

When Walter Hibson died in his bathroom in West Palm Beach, no one knew. His mail piled up, and a neighbor called the Sheriff’s Office. Deputies found his bones. A county social worker could identify no family or friends. Hibson was 69.

Bobby Melton, 69, cut grass in exchange for room and board in a shed behind a Delray Beach home. Witnesses saw him collapse next to the lawn mower from a heart attack. The county contacted his ex-wife, divorced 15 years ago, who said he had no family. She declined his body.

Lawrence Grening, 65, of Lake Worth, had spoken to a neighbor about his two sons, but no one could locate them after his body was found decomposing in his apartment.

There were homeless people and people who apparently immigrated alone and solitary elderly people who outlived their social network.

“We pray that our brothers and sisters may sleep here in peace,” Ghanoum said…

Rest here.


Bride and Gloom

An appalling clerical double booking. The Austrian Times reports:

Serbian Orthodox priest Father Jefrem Ratkovic was forced to apologize, after he recently scheduled a wedding at the same time as a funeral in the central Serbian town of Ljig, the Austrian Times website reports exclusively today (November 26, 2012).

When bride Dragana Jovic, 23, arrived at the church dressed in white, she found dozens of mourners dressed in black together with a coffin containing the body of a local man, Nemanja Petrovic, 86.

Both the brightly-dressed wedding guests and the dark-clothed mourners had started to take their places in the church by the time the priest arrived.

After he realized that he had scheduled a wedding and a funeral at the same time, Father Ratkovic asked the mourners — and their coffin — to wait outside while he carried out the wedding, and then the funeral was allowed to go ahead. He told the local media, “Double bookings can happen in anything, the Church is no different. I have apologized though, and both sides were fine about it.”


When the Living Have to Bury their Own Dead

Church-planters probably never even consider factoring this in when they start. That was certainly the case for some friends of mine in Turkey. For who would have guessed that setting up a cemetery might have to become a key feature of their growth strategy?

For centuries, if you were Turkish, you were Muslim. In fact, there has never been a point at which Turks were Christian. Until now. We easily forget that, not least because the region was the epicentre of global Christianity from biblical times onwards. But the Turks swept in from the east, bringing Islam with them, eventually conquering Constantinople in 1453. Ever since, the only sizeable Christian groups in the area were Greek or Armenian.

So what’s this got to do with anything? Well, there are now around 3000 Turks who have become Christian in the last 30-40 years or so. Many have come from a fairly secular background, which perhaps makes it a little more understandable. But now that the Turkish church has been around for a bit, there’s a new problem. Where to bury them when they die. It perhaps sounds rather macabre but it is, believe it or not, a real headache.

Muslims have their own cemeteries throughout Turkey, of course; the few Greeks that are left get buried in orthodox land, and the Armenians have their own solutions. But Christian Turks don’t ‘belong’ anywhere after death. The sectarianism of life gets perpetuated in the grave.

So it’s a quite challenge for these friends to find land.

But it’s simply yet another example of ministry’s unpredictability and the risk we all run of being so wedded to our strategic planning that we fail to see the pressing needs.




Italian Bishops Forbid Scattering of Ashes after Cremation

Catholic Culture:

In new guidelines for funerals and burials, the Italian bishops’ conference has said that the scattering of ashes of the deceased is not allowed.

The revised funeral rites, released on March 31, said that although civil law allows for the scattering of ashes, that practice raises “considerable doubts as to their coherence to Christian faith.”

This instruction is placed in an appendix to the new book of funeral rites, a spokesman for the Italian bishops’ conference explained, because the Church, “although she does not oppose the cremation of bodies, when not done in odium fidei, continues to maintain that the burial of the dead is more appropriate, that it expresses faith in the resurrection of the flesh, nourishes the piety of the faithful, and favors the recollection and prayer of relatives and friends.”


Letter of Apology to Lesbian Denied Communion at Mom’s Funeral

UPDATE:  Fr Marcel Guarnizo’s Response to the Eucharistic Incident here.

MSNBC reports:

Barbara Johnson knew last Saturday, the day of her mother’s funeral, would be difficult. But she and her lesbian partner of 20 years had no idea that the priest at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Md., would be a source of her grief.

Johnson, 51, of Washington, D.C, walked into the church, mourning the mom she described to as “a really cool woman; she was 85 going on 58.”

When Johnson and her partner arrived at the church – which her mom had attended, and her dad, too, before he died years prior – they were summoned by Rev. Marcel Guarnizo, a man they were meeting for the first time. He didn’t express his condolences, Johnson said, instead curtly getting down to business.

Johnson had painfully written a eulogy; her niece had also penned one. “We only allow one eulogy,” Guarnizo informed them, despite the fact that the church’s music director had told them otherwise, Johnson told Johnson said she asked her partner to plead with Guarnizo to allow for two while she was called away for her pallbearer duties.

The day, already tense, was about to get significantly worse. Johnson said the priest denied her Communion at her own mother’s funeral, telling her he couldn’t give it to her because she was gay.

When it came time to hand out bread and wine, Guarnizo “issued a strong admonition that only Catholics in a state of grace can receive Communion,” Johnson told “I went up. I was standing next to my mother’s casket and he covered the bowl, and said, ‘I cannot give you Communion because you are with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin.’ I stood there with my mouth open in a state of shock for – I don’t know how long.”

But he wasn’t finished, Johnson said. Guarnizo had finally agreed to allow two eulogies, but she said family members told her that he proceeded to walk out of the service in the middle of Johnson’s dedication to her mother – something he didn’t do during her niece’s eulogy.

As the final insult, Johnson told, Guarnizo failed to attend her mother’s burial: “When the funeral home director appears, he says, ‘Father Marcel has taken ill. He says he has a migraine and is unable to accompany your mother’s remains to the cemetery.’ This was, for me and my family, his most egregious act.”

The Johnsons now want Guarnizo removed from his post, and are seeking an apology from him.

“You brought your politics, not your God into that Church yesterday, and you will pay dearly on the day of judgment for judging me,” Barbara Johnson wrote in a letter to Guarnizo. “I will pray for your soul, but first I will do everything in my power to see that you are removed from parish life so that you will not be permitted to harm any more families.” emailed Guarnizo on Wednesday but did not receive any response from him. Long videos online show him delivering anti-choice speeches, calling abortion clinics “veritable death camps.”

Priest doesn’t apologize, but archdiocese does Johnson, whose story was first reported in The Washington Post, said that Guarnizo has yet to apologize to her family or make any public remarks, but on Tuesday, the Archdiocese of Washington sent Johnson a letter of apology after she spoke with the secretary there…

Here it is:


UPDATE:   Fr Z with The “Lesbian Denied Communion” issue: some posts and updates.


Westboro Church Uses iPhone to Announce Steve Jobs Funeral Protest

The height of hypocrisy:

The Westboro Baptist Church took to an iPhone when they heard about Steve Jobs’ death Wednesday night, sending out a message saying the Apple founder would be going to hell and calling for a protest of his funeral.

“Westboro will picket his funeral. He had a huge platform; gave God no glory and taught sin,” wrote Margie Phelps, daughter of the church’s founder.

The controversial group often pickets outside of soldiers’ funerals to draw media attention to their cause, which includes anti-gay material. Phelps tweeted the messages from her account, with an automatic note appearing at the bottom of the Tweet saying “via Twitter for iPhone.”

“No peace for man who served self, not God,” she wrote with the hashtag, #hellgreetedhim. “Westboro must picket.”

Thursday morning, Phelps responded to widespread criticism of her using the iPhone to Tweet the messages, saying that the phone was created by God–not Jobs–for that purpose.

“Rebels mad cuz I used iPhone to tell you Steve Jobs is in hell.God created iPhone for that purpose! icon smile Westboro Church Uses iPhone to Announce Steve Jobs Funeral Protest ” she wrote.

Arrangements for Jobs’ funeral haven’t been announced.



Rest in Peace? Mumbai Runs Out of Space for Dead

Mumbai — Simple marble gravestones lie flat in the grounds of St Andrew’s Church in Bandra, one of the oldest Roman Catholic places of worship in the Indian city of Mumbai.

The names on the tombs bear witness to the city’s Portuguese heritage, as a groundsman sweeps wet leaves from generations of Da Silvas, D’Souzas, Pintos, Pereiras, Furtados and Fonsecas.

Behind the white-washed church, are newer, much smaller memorials, stacked on top of one another like drawers in a high perimeter wall bordering the sea.

Inside these “niches” are the mortal remains of the more recently deceased, whose bones have been disinterred and replaced by those who have died in the last year or two.

The spiralling cost of land and its lack of availability is a major issue for the estimated 18 million people crammed into India’s financial and entertainment capital.

But increasingly, the squeeze is affecting the city’s dead, prompting changes in centuries-old rituals, forcing up the cost of burials or leading to practical solutions to tackle space constraints.

“It’s an issue in all the churches. There’s a lack of space,” admitted Father Michael Goveas, a parish priest at St Andrew’s, where flattened tombstones are found even in the corridors leading to the main church.

“We’re no longer giving permission for permanent graves. Anyone who has a permanent (family) plot can still utilise them. For everyone else, we give niches,” he told AFP.

The lack of burial space, a growing problem for minority Christians and Muslims in India’s fast-growing big cities as well as many countries around the world, is particularly acute in Mumbai.

The local authorities estimate that there is just 1.3 square feet (0.12 square metres) of green open space per person, making it one of the most densely-populated places in the world.

One solution submitted last year to the US-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat suggested building a tower, with space for Christian and Muslim burials and Hindu cremations.

The idea’s thrust was that traditional solutions were unlikely to succeed, as older churches — and even the newer, state-run public cemeteries in outlying districts — stop providing graves in perpetuity.

“Cemeteries have a system where they don’t leave the bodies for more than two years. Then the bones are moved to an ossuary (charnel house),” said Father Anthony Charanghat, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Bombay.

One significant consequence of the space crunch is the increasing number of Catholics opting for cremation — the norm amongst Hindus — which was once viewed by the Church as a denial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“You used to have to get permission (to be cremated),” said Father Michael. “Now, it’s becoming more widespread… The idea that if you burn there’s no resurrection doesn’t exist any more.

“If you’re buried or burnt, it’s the same thing.”…

The above and rest here.


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