Archbishop Bans Eulogies at Funeral Masses
Thu January 23, 2003 09:58 AM ET
NEWARK, N.J. (Reuters) - A U.S. archbishop has banned eulogies during funeral masses, saying the personal tributes were getting out of hand.
In a decree to local priests Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, New Jersey, said last week there was growing abuse of eulogies by friends and family members and the tributes should be delivered before or after the mass or at graveside or the funeral home.
A spokesman for the archdiocese, which includes about 1.5 million Catholics, told Reuters the tributes were a distraction from the scriptural message of the mass and that eulogies traditionally had not been part of Catholic funeral rites.
"The number and the length of eulogies that had been happening in the church had been getting out of hand," archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness said, adding that some funeral tributes went on for an hour or even longer.
The priest celebrating the funeral mass could still talk about the deceased in his homily, Goodness said.
But the decree has angered some parishioners.
Mary Jo Dervos, of Glen Rock, New Jersey, told the Record of Bergen County, which reported the ban in its Wednesday editions, that her family was prohibited from speaking at her grandmother's funeral mass.
"We felt it really wasn't asking a lot for family members to speak," Dervos told the newspaper. "My grandmother was so devoted to the church."
The issue is extremely sensitive because family members want the opportunity to say something personal at the mass, but "there is an understandable concern about things in various ways getting out of hand," the Rev. John Langan, a professor of ethics at Georgetown University, told Reuters.
"I don't know that there's any simple recipe for doing this," Langan said. "I think a lot depends on the local pastor having the right touch in working this out."
The eulogy controversy is not unique to the United States. Catholics in Ireland have also expressed anger at similar moves to ban eulogies in some churches there.