"Should a Mass Murderer be Granted an Ecclesiastical Funeral?"

By Paul Dion, STL

"A vigil service is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 302 E. Jefferson St., Iowa City. Funeral Mass for the family has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday. Burial will be at St. Joseph's Cemetery." Not long ago, a newspaper story appeared that described the murder of a family of four, wife, and three of her children by her husband who subsequently committed suicide by driving his car into a freeway abutment.

Not long after the event an illustrious Canon Lawyer (One who has studied the laws of the church and may interpret them and counsel the faithful concerning their compliance with such laws.) wrote a learned blog saying that in the light of what appeared in the press, the murderer/suicide should not be afforded an ecclesiastical funeral because he is evidently a non repentant public sinner and giving him such a funeral would be a cause of scandal for the rest of the community.

Please realize that this is one kind of public sin. There are others, of course. We can think of known pimps, drug dealers and family abusers to name a few. So, what is your opinion?

Now that you have expressed yourself, click here to see's opinion.

So let us know what you think.


  1. Anonymous8:17 AM

    I think the Church should allow it even if the person was unrepentant. We should let God's mercy be the final judge. Not people's opinion.

  2. Anonymous8:20 AM

    What about someone who committed suicide? Should they be denied a Catholic service as well? I know people who died by suicide. And who among us can tell if he said "Lord I'm sorry" at the last minute?

  3. Anonymous9:27 AM

    The Catholic Church teaches us to forgive. One of it's teaching as well is to ask for forgiveness and know that God does not turn away anyone.

    Therefore, my answer to this question is YES...if the person has repented and asked for forgiveness.

  4. Anonymous:
    Please read the question carefully, it states that the person is a NON-repentant sinner. Does your answer remain the same?

    Paul Dion, STL
    Theology Editor,

  5. I agree with the canon lawyer... it is a popular thing to talk about mercy and forgiveness in vague terms which basically in the end the person takes no stance at all, takes no stance against sin... If we don't set standards then we might as well do away with excommunication and anathemas huh? Having a Catholic funeral wouldnt affect the state of his soul even if he somehow made it to Heaven...

  6. Anonymous6:44 PM

    How do you know for sure what they were thinking last?
    A non-repentant sinner should not be granted one.