Posted by Richard Rawlinson
Priests have been instructed to stop saying Mass for the dead at crematoriums. They’ve been sent a letter by their bishops saying the order is not rejecting crematoriums but aims to bring people back into churches.
Priests will be able to say a short prayer at a crematorium, similar to a prayer at a graveside, but the letter states that moving funerals away from churches risked emptying the ritual of its context and meaning.
It is in effect reforming the reform that authorised prayers at crematoriums but was then interpreted as allowing Mass, even though the premises might lack Christian symbols and be cut off from the deceased person’s parish community.
Ok, this initiative is by Belgian Flemish bishops only for now —here — but it’s part of wider efforts to uphold sanctity. An Irish bishop has recently clarified guidelines that eulogies should not be delivered during the funeral liturgy, but should take place outside the church – here.
One concern about a return to ‘two-centre’ ritual (church and crem or church and graveside) is likely to be the additional costs for those without much money.
More about the problem posed by crem committals for church-goers here.