Avoiding Public Scandal

by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  November 9, 2017   

Canon 1184: Unrepentant manifest sinners can't be buried in the Church

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Two bishops are citing Church law in denying funeral rites to active homosexuals who die while living in a public, same-sex marriage without giving any sign of repentance.

Both Bp. Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, and Bp. Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, reference canon 1184 in the Catholic Code of Canon Law as the reason for disallowing such public sinners burial in the Church.

Canon 1184 reads, "Unless they gave some signs of repentance before death, the following must be deprived of ecclesiastical funerals: notorious apostates, heretics and schismatics; other manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful."

In June, Bp. Paprocki referenced canon 1184 when issuing his pastoral guidelines concerning Catholics in so-called same-sex marriages. In withholding funeral rites in these cases, he wrote, "Unless they have given some signs of repentance before death, deceased persons who had lived openly in a same-sex marriage giving public scandal to the faithful are to be deprived of ecclesiastical funeral rites."

The directives in Bp. Morlino's diocese cited the same canon 1184 and matched those of Bp. Paprocki. Relating the content of those directives aimed specifically at Catholics involved in so-called same-sex marriages, Bp. Morlino's vicar general wrote, "If the situation warrants (see canon 1184, specifically canon 1184.1.3), ecclesiastical funeral rites may be denied for manifest sinners in which public scandal of the faithful can't be avoided."

Both bishops received substantial blowback from the gay lobby inside and outside the Church for simply following Church law.

Watch the panel discuss the attack on faithful bishops who follow canon law in The Download—Faithful Bishop Under Attack.


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