Short-change Catholic funerals for priests accused of sex abuse

Catholic funerals for priests who die while facing accusations of sexual abuse are now subject to new rules in Ireland.

The National Board for Safeguarding Children’s guidelines to church authorities include ways to discreetly conduct the funerals of clerics who had allegations made against them.

Some dioceses have added to these guidelines.

They say funerals must take place in a private chapel, no death notice may be published, the deceased may be referred to only by his Christian name throughout the funeral service and that the deceased may not be buried in his clerical garb.

One set of diocesan guidelines obtained by the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) suggests “consideration be given to having the funeral liturgies in a private chapel and/or at a time other than the usual times.”

The ACP has expressed concern over these arrangements.

ACP spokesman Fr Tim Hazelwood says the practice – which applies even if the priest was not convicted of any offence – is terrible.

“We’re concerned at funeral arrangements for stepped-down priests or those facing accusations, particularly for priests who have been accused of something but nothing has been proved.

“I personally know an elderly priest who’s been facing an accusation, which he totally denies, dating back 40 years.

“In his case, he will be denied a proper Catholic funeral and it’s causing him and his family terrible distress.

“The situation differs from diocese to diocese, but in general priests in this situation are treated terribly.

“Even members of the Kinahan gang or convicted murderers can expect proper Catholic funerals, but that’s not the case with some priests, who really are treated like the lepers of Irish society.”


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