Ask a Franciscan

No Funeral Mass for a Cremated Person? 

Candles and flowers next to an urn

I understand that the Catholic Church no longer opposes cremation. One of my friends, who is a non-practicing Catholic, said that a friend of her son had his mother’s remains cremated. The priest at her church, however, refused to celebrate a funeral Mass, saying that the decision is up to the priest at a parish. 

That priest is simply dead wrong! What the Church allows in general cannot be overruled by an individual priest. 

On July 30, 1997, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued a decree approving new texts for a funeral Mass celebrated in the presence of cremains. That decree entered into force in the United States on November 2, 1997. 

Funerals are for the living as well as those who have died. The refusal you describe is pastorally insensitive and strikes me as an outrageous example of the clericalism that Pope Francis has been denouncing for the past nine years. 

Like anyone else, a priest may have his preferences, but those cannot be allowed to cancel what the Church permits. In a very restricted sense, this may be his parish, but it is not his Church. Who does he think he is? Was this the response of a servant leader? 

Those who asked for a funeral Mass with the cremains present had every right to do so. I am sorry that this person was refused this right. 

“Poor people, poor God,” Father Leonard Foley, OFM, a former editor of St. Anthony Messenger, used to say. 

Subscribe to St. Anthony Messenger!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *