Canadian archbishop bans eulogies at funeral Masses

Eulogies have been banned during Catholic funeral Masses in Ottawa in Canada.

A February 2 decree from Archbishop Terrence Prendergast states 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 added.

Many Catholics, it added, do not know this.

The archbishop credited this to the high number of Ottawa Catholics attending non-Catholic funerals, as well as the eulogy-laden “funerals of public figures”.

The Church’s objection to eulogies at Catholic funerals is that they are secular speeches designed to offer “high praise” to the dead “without reference to God or to faith,” according to the Ottawa decree.

Ottawa priests are “strongly” urged to encourage Catholics to speak publicly about loved ones outside the Mass — at funeral homes, receptions, or in a parish hall.

In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., Archbishop Prendergast conceded that eulogies at Catholic funerals “had crept in” but that “technically, the books that guide us don’t allow them”.

However, Archbishop Prendergast said the Church was facing increasing pressure from families to have more, and even multiple, eulogies at funerals.

To that end, a compromise was reached.

The decree permits “words of remembrance” to be delivered, but with three conditions.

They must be spoken at the beginning of the liturgy; must be one page of text taking three to four minutes to read, with mention of the deceased’s “life of faith”; and they should be read from a place other than where Scriptures are proclaimed.



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