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Australian Bishops to revise funeral rite guidelines

A report in the SMH this morning provides background on a National Liturgical Commission submission to the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference for revisions to the Catholic liturgical guidelines for funerals. The report suggests the NLC thinks "the final farewells of Australia's Catholics have become increasingly personalised and irreverent and wants funeral services to return to their significance as acts of worship".

The newspaper reports some of the ways in which funeral services have lost some of their spiritual significance through an elevated emphasis on personal mementos and coarser cultural remembrances at the cost of the spiritual significance.

"Parish priests had complained to the commission of inappropriate behaviour, including the telling of blue jokes, of a beer bottle cracked open at the altar, of longwinded eulogies, and one that included a verbal attack on the church."

The report continues, "Pop songs and personal remembrances should be kept for vigils the night before the funeral, for the graveside or even the wake, the commission argues."

It quotes the NLC's executive officer, Fr Peter Williams, as saying funerals primarily organised as a personal celebration of the lives of the deceased sidelined messages of Christian faith of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the promise of eternal life.

Church considers rites and wrongs of funerals (SMH 19/1/05)

National Liturgical Commission contact details
ACBC website

Irish archbishop issues guidelines to keep funerals Christian (CathNews 12/11/04)
Irish church crackdown on behaviour at funerals (CathNews 22/12/03)

19 Jan 2005