Ask a Franciscan

Catholic Burials for Non-Catholics

Q: May a non-Catholic husband and father have a Catholic funeral if the deceased’s widow or children request it?

A: Yes, this is possible, regardless of the gender of the person who died. According to the 1983 Code of Canon Law, “In the prudent judgment of the local ordinary, ecclesiastical funerals can be granted to baptized persons who are enrolled in a non-Catholic Church or ecclesial community unless their intention is evidently to the contrary and provided that own minister is not available” (1183:3).

In the New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law (Canon Law Society of America), we read, “In case of doubt about the validity of Baptism, the funeral may be permitted.” To my knowledge, no U.S. local bishop has made a blanket prohibition of such funerals. We should remember that funerals are for the living as well as for the person who has died.

Even if it is certain that the deceased was never baptized, a Catholic priest or deacon could conduct a prayer service at the funeral home or in another place if the surviving spouse or children request it.

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1 thought on “Catholic Burials for Non-Catholics”

  1. But what if the person who dies is not Catholic, has not been baptized, but is the son of a catholic??

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