Friday, September 19, 2014


The discussion about holding funeral Masses at the Veterans Cemetery chapel has brought several matters to light that can serve as an occasion of instruction. 

There is of course, the central issue of when can a Mass, any Mass, be celebrated outside a "sacred space" and away from a "blessed altar" as church law requires

This matter is a central issue in the debate about the Veterans Cemetery ONLY because Archbishop Apuron regularly permits the neocatechumenal communities to celebrate their "eucharist" (Mass) in a variety of generic spaces and on ordinary tables, yet refuses to allow a funeral Mass in the "generic" (non-denominational) chapel at the Veterans Cemetery.  

If Archbishop Apuron did not permit this regular departure from church law for the neocatechumenal communities then his authority to regulate the use of the Veterans chapel for Catholic funeral Masses would not now be called into question. 

Note: The Archbishop and the neo-presbyters will claim that they have permission to celebrate the eucharist in these generic spaces but they will not produce the "permission" because they cannot. I happen to know which "permission" they refer to, which is also why I know they will not produce it. But we'll get to that another time. 

Meanwhile, there are several other issues which have surfaced in this discussion which need to be addressed, and one of these is the general right of the Christian faithful to an ecclesiastical funeral regardless of the ability to pay for it. 

The relevant canon is Can.  1176 §1. Deceased members of the Christian faithful must be given ecclesiastical funerals according to the norm of law.

According to the New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, "...the faithful must be given funeral rites according to the norm of law. This implies an obligation on the part of pastors, that they see that church funeral rites are celebrated for their deceased parishioners, as well as an obligation on the next of kin to see that church funeral rites are accorded a deceased Catholic. Moreover, it implies a right to have one's funeral in one's parish, in accord with the norm of law." (1)

In theory, there is probably no pastor who would refuse a deceased parishioner a funeral Mass in the parish church. However, a lack of funds or catechetical understanding may result in the next of kin neglecting their obligation "to see that church funeral rites are accorded" to the deceased. This is why the Commentary editors emphasize the "obligation on the part of pastors." 

It may happen that a family of little means, out of shame or "saving face", may choose to avoid the expense associated with a parish church funeral and opt for a burial without a Mass or, as we can suppose in the case of some families of Veterans, opt for services that are paid for by the government as would be the case in the use of the Veterans Cemetery chapel. 

This is why the words MUST BE GIVEN are in church law. As the editors of the Commentary point out, "this implies an obligation on the part of pastors." In the matter of a deceased parishioner, the pastor must be proactive in seeing to the right of the deceased to an ecclesiastical funeral. 

This obligation is further implied in the following canon: Can.  1177 §1. A funeral for any deceased member of the faithful must generally be celebrated in his or her parish church.

Again, quoting the editors of the Commentary: "Catholics have a right to funeral rites in their parish. The rites in question are all the funeral states that are observed in a region (e.g., vigil service, funeral Mass, committal). The canon says that generally funerals for the faithful departed must be celebrated in their own parish, which obliges the pastor to see that they are given a funeral." (2)

The editors go on to clarify what is meant by "their parish": "Membership in a parish is determined by domicile or quasi-domicile in the parish territory, not by registration or participation in the parish."

And now we come to the major issue: MONEY.

Can.  1181 states: "Regarding offerings on the occasion of funeral rites, the prescripts of ⇒ can. 1264 are to be observed, with the caution, however, that there is to be no favoritism toward persons in funerals and that the poor are not deprived of fitting funerals." 

Following is the entry from the Commentary:

"The mention of canon 1264 refers to number 2 of that canon which states that it is the competence of the bishops of the province to determine the amount of the offerings to be given on the occasion of the administration of the sacraments and sacramentals, unless another law prescribes something else." (3)

Let's stop here and review. As those who followed the original post on this matter know, there was a bit of a debate as to the costs associated with a parish funeral. Apparently, the matter of "offerings" is left to the individual parishes, and perhaps even to individual priests, or maybe even to the parish staff. If Archbishop Apuron has determined the "amount of the offerings" as this canon prescribes, I am not aware of it. In fact, since c. 1264 references "sacraments and sacramentals", the "amount of offerings" is to be prescribed by the bishop for the other sacraments too, such as weddings and baptisms. 

The Commentary continues:

"The caution against depriving the poor of a funeral is akin to that of canon 848 in reference to offerings for the administration of sacraments. Precaution is also to be taken against any favoritism toward persons. For example, it would not be lawful to celebrate a funeral Mass only for contributing parishioners while limiting others to a liturgy of the word celebrated by a deacon or lay person. Deacons may celebrate the funeral liturgy without a Mass, or lay persons may celebrate funeral rites in accord with the law in situations of pastor need, but not in consideration of persons." (4)

In short, it is not the duty of Catholic Veterans or their representatives to pursue a permission to use the Veterans Cemetery chapel for the purposes of celebrating a funeral Mass for deceased Catholics, and it is sad that they have felt that they had to. 

Rather, it is the obligation of Catholic pastors, specifically the bishop, to see to the right of every member of the Catholic faithful to a full Catholic funeral rite celebrated in the parish church regardless of the financial circumstances (or even catechetical understanding) of the deceased or his or her next of kin.

A final note: It is assumed that most pastors already do what the church requires. This issue has only come to light due to the already noted inconsistencies relative to the celebration of the eucharist by the neocatechumenal communities and the lack of a reply by Archbishop Apuron to Governor Calvo's inquiry of 25 July 2014. The lack of a reply was noted in Mr. John Unpingco's letter of 5 September 2014: "we have not received a response yet." 


(1) The Canon Law Society, John P. Beal, James A. Coriden, Thoms J. Green, ed., New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law (New York: Paulist Press, 2000), 1408.

(2) Ibid., 1409

(3) Ibid.,  1410

(4) Ibid., 1410


  1. Does this also mean that Mass shouldn't be held in the Friary since the Friary isn't a parish church?

    1. A Mass can be held in the Friary's chapel because it is a sacred space and has a blessed altar. Funerals, weddings and the other sacraments for the laity would need a special permission to be celebrated there.

  2. What about the chapel at FDMS?

    1. Since it is a chapel and not a parish church, a special dispensation would be needed to hold a funeral there.

  3. Another sad development in the New NeoAdmin of the Cathedral:

    The Priest, from another parish, for the Funeral Mass today, was instructed to "bring your own altar server" because the Cathedral will not have one available to assist him!

    Crazy! Next, bring your own hosts, wine. for yourselves, etc!

    Surely, they charged to family for the use of the a/c and facilities so as long as they pay, they get to use the Church air conditioning.

    The family gets bare minimum, in terms of service And care, because they are not Neo and the knowledgeable & dedicated altar servers from before cannot stomach what the Neo Administration stands for to stay and help at the Cathedral!

    Pathetic Neo Administration!

  4. This needs to be pointed out to the RMS grads who have on more than one occasion denied persons a funeral. Also have denied persons communion.
    How sad. I think they need remedial training,

    1. What we can do is challenge these priests. Ask them to show us in black & white where it says they can't.