Gay and Catholic? No Religious Funeral For You!

church-200353_1280Catholic leadership in Madison, Wisconsin recently sent an email to priests detailing recommended guidelines for handling funerals for gay church members. In a display of heartlessness, the leaked message suggested that those who may have been active in the LGBTQ community be denied a religious funeral service. Leadership also communicated that same-sex partners be excluded from having any prominent role in the funeral ceremony, including mention “in any liturgical booklet, prayer card, homily, sermon, talk by the priest, deacon, etc.”

The reason? If you know anything about how much money and effort the Catholic Church spends to protect its image and cover up controversy, this will come as no surprise. The email states the rationale behind these directives is “to minimize the risk of scandal and confusion to others.” So yeah. They’re dead. Screw ’em. Let’s just make sure we avoid looking bad.

Here’s the full list of recommendations shared with clergy in the Madison area:

  • Was the deceased or the “partner” a promoter of the “gay” lifestyle?  What is the attitude of the deceased’s family members, especially towards the Church?
  • Did the deceased give some signs of repentance before death?
  • If ecclesiastical funeral rites are allowed, should they occur without a Mass?
  • To minimize scandal, should there merely be a short scripture service at the funeral home?  Or maybe merely a graveside service? Maybe a later “Mass for the Dead” with or without explicit mention of the name of the deceased or “partner” could alternatively or in addition be offered at the parish or even at another parish (to avoid scandal), with or without family members present.
  • Any surviving “partner” should not have any public or prominent
    role at any ecclesiastical funeral rite or service.
  • A great risk for scandal and confusion is for the name of the celebrating priest and/or the parish to be listed in any public (e.g., newspaper) or semi-public obituary or notice that also lists the predeceased or surviving “partner” in some manner. This can’t happen for obvious reasons.
  • There should be no mention of the “partner” either by name or by other reference (nor reference to the unnatural union) in any liturgical booklet, prayer card, homily, sermon, talk by the priest, deacon, etc…
  • It may be wise to keep the priest or deacon involvement to the minimum (i.e., limited to one priest or deacon and at merely essential times of a service or rite, if one occurs).

I’m not sure why anyone who isn’t a straight male would want anything to do with the Catholic Church in the first place (based on their doctrine and traditions), but these guidelines are more likely to affect Catholic families of LGBTQ persons who wish to give their loved ones a Catholic funeral based on their own traditions. The concerted effort the Church is making to bury the existence of LGBTQ members and their families under the carpet is disgusting and should be a clear sign to anyone in this situation that the Church is unable to evolve with society and should be abandoned for a more progressive and inclusive community.


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Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis is the head writer and editor for SecularVoices, co-founder of Young Skeptics, and author of Understanding an Atheist. He is known for local and national secular activism and has spoken at conferences and events such as Reason Rally 2016 and the Ark Encounter Protest and Rally.

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18 thoughts on “Gay and Catholic? No Religious Funeral For You!

  1. Leadership also communicated that same-sex partners be excluded from having any prominent role in the funeral ceremony

    My family are Catholic on my father’s side. To be blunt in the Catholic funerals I have been to the deceased never had a prominent role in the funeral ceremony. That place was reserved for Jesus.

    1. Yeah, most Catholic funerals I’ve been to have been pretty much masses with no eulogies from the family or anything like that. The priest decides how much to talk about the deceased in his homily. A number of years ago, the son of an acquaintance was killed in a bicycling accident at age 12, and at the funeral there was virtually no mention of the kid at all. Struck me as exceedingly odd.

        1. I admit I haven’t been to many…that one in particular struck me because it was so completely devoid of anything that would have told us something about the person whose casket was blocking the aisle. It was a formal mass with all the smoke-and-crackers … but that was it.

    2. This is my experience as well. They make the the funeral and even memorial service all about Jesus, with hardly more than a generic mention of the deceased. Family members don’t really even participate other than to attend.

  2. All this is being done to AVOID scandal? Why not avoid scandal by just doing the standard funeral routine for all deceased persons, no further questions asked?

    This just looks like the most pathetic attempt I’ve seen (so far) to make sure the bigots have the proverbial “last word.” It’s on about the same level as “The atheist is dead, so now he knows I was right the whole time.”

  3. what self hating gays still follow catholic doctrine? A church that allowed molestation of hundreds, home to mostly self hating gay men and you still want to worship with them? gross

  4. As a former Catholic who became enlightened about how to be a moral person at age 19, and therefore had to leave the Catholic Church, I relish these pronouncements. Only when it affects people – like families of gay people in this case – will people open their eyes and realize you cannot be a truly moral person (i.e., respect others and treat them kindly) and support the Catholic Church.

  5. Sexuality is not the only area of life that the religious can struggle with. A friend of mine, who was the son of a Church of England vicar, committed suicide. His funeral largely ignored who he was and obviously didn’t mention how he died, in address given by the Archbishop of Southwark he talked about all the ‘Peters’ he had known while working in Africa but didn’t mention the Peter who’s funeral it was. After the funeral Peter’s friends sat in a nearby park and shared memories of his life – that was the real funeral.

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