A propos of our discussion on anger and holy wrath, I am both dismayed and challenged by this passage from Boston Archbishop Sean O’Malley’s blog entry describing his attendance at Senator Kennedy’s funeral.
At times, even in the Church, zeal can lead people to issue harsh judgments and impute the worst motives to one another. These attitudes and practices do irreparable damage to the communion of the Church. If any cause is motivated by judgment, anger or vindictiveness, it will be doomed to marginalization and failure. Jesus’ words to us were that we must love one another as He loves us. Jesus loves us while we are still in sin. He loves each of us first, and He loves us to the end. Our ability to change people’s hearts and help them to grasp the dignity of each and every life, from the first moment of conception to the last moment of natural death, is directly related to our ability to increase love and unity in the Church, for our proclamation of the Truth is hindered when we are divided and fighting with each other.
Is it fair to suggest that the critics of the decision to allow President Obama to give a eulogy at a Catholic funeral for a pro-abortion public figure are motivated by “judgment, anger or vindictiveness”? Can he give them no credit for concern with true and justice and moral clarity? And what of the irreparable harm done to the communion of the faithful by Catholic public officials promoting abortion and living scandalous personal lives?
What do others think?
LifeSiteNews has an article expressing an opinion more like my own (hat tip American Papist), by Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro Carámbula, Doctor of Dogmatic Theology and head of the Rome office of Human Life International
In the same way that publicly incoherent Catholics might be denied communion, these persons can also be denied ecclesiastical funeral rites. The Code of Canon Law establishes, Can. “1184 §1. Unless they gave some signs of repentance before death, the following must be deprived of ecclesiastical funerals: 3/ other manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful.”
It’s that “public scandal of the faithful” that I thought missing from Archbishop O’Malley’s blog item—that I think missing from much of Catholic ethos and practice today. Needless to say, this ties into our forgiveness discussion as well. Can there be meaningful forgiveness where there is no repentance?
Msgr. Carambula gets even stronger and more specific:
We are informed by the press that the person who received the recent funeral in Boston gave some signs of repentance; but those signs were not specific at all with regards to the many grave and public violations that he committed against the teachings of the Church. Even if the signs of repentance would have been judged sufficient by competent local ecclesiastical authority, the problem of the scandal remains because the ordinary of the place where the funeral was officiated could not have been ignorant that the funeral was going to be turned into a celebration of the life of that particular person.