A strange case here, where a priest is under fire for having stated standard Catholic doctrine. Sure, if he was a Methodist, Baptist perhaps, then stating what is Catholic theology might be a little odd, but he’s a Catholic priest and this is rather his job. It might not be all that polite nor common to make such statements at the actual funeral but it is indeed what the Church does teach. Suicide can or will mean non-entry into heaven, in fact suicide is regarded as the ultimate sin.
A Catholic priest in Michigan is facing criticism after he presided over the funeral of an 18-year-old who killed himself earlier this month and told mourners at the service that the teen may be kept out of heaven due to the way he died, reports said. The parents want the priest who presided over his funeral removed after they say he disparaged and condemned their son during the service.
To disparage and condemn a sinner? That’s part of the job description rather, isn’t it? Sure, maybe not as the sobbing mother regards her child’s coffin but that makes it a matter of politesse, not theology. The underlying point being made here is correct:
A family whose son died from suicide expressed outrage after a priest suggested he might not get into heaven and ‘called him a sinner’ at his funeral, according to the boy’s family. Maison Hullibarger, an 18-year-old from Temperance, Michigan, died on December 4 after taking his own life.
Umm, well, standard Catholic teaching is indeed that he won’t get into heaven. Of course, it’s always open for Catholic teaching to be incorrect but perhaps a Catholic priest officiating over a Catholic funeral isn’t quite the place to expect the proof of that contention. And it wasn’t all that long ago that a known and acknowledged suicide wouldn’t have gained burial in consecrated ground, nor even perhaps a funeral service.
Instead, during the funeral at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, the Hullibargers listened from the pews as the priest spoke the word “suicide” six times. He told mourners, local media reported, that Maison may be denied admittance to heaven because of the way he died. LaCuesta wondered aloud, the Hullibargers said, if Maison had repented enough in the eyes of God. “He basically called our son a sinner,” Linda told the Toledo Blade.
Well, within that Catholic teaching he was indeed a sinner. Suicide being the ultimate sin in fact. It’s despair at the reality of God’s forgiveness, a very major sin indeed. Perhaps something more historically emphasised than today but still a big deal. And yes, one that is normally taken to mean no entry into heaven. For one has died without being shrived, one has died in the process of committing that ultimate sin.
Yes, quite obviously, one can not believe in this entire set of Sky Fairy stuff. But why would you expect a Catholic priest not to? Even if Catholic congregations seem to have problems with it these days.