Saturday, March 19

Manifest Sinners Unite

We have nothing to lose but our ecclesiastical funerals. That's what it says in the Code of Canon Law, anyway.

Legions have reported on the scandal surrounding Catholic Bishop (and accused sex offender) Robert Brom's denial of a church funeral for San Diego gay bar owner John McCusker. John Aravosis is notably all over the story. Rather than recap, I thought I'd just mention a couple of angles that are of peculiar interest to me.

  • Why has no one has asked what a 31-year-old is doing dying of congestive heart failure? And I thought I had bad genetics!
  • Catholics never cease to amaze me in how they can turn something as ethereal as religion and heavenly grace into legalisms. Canon 1184 is a classic example:

Unless they gave some signs of repentance before death, the following must be deprived of ecclesiastical funerals: 1/ notorious apostates, heretics, and schismatics; 2/ those who chose the cremation of their bodies for reasons contrary to Christian faith; 3/ other manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful.

Codifications like this give the impression of fairness and equity under the rule of law, but oft times that impression is merely camouflage for mean-spirited capriciousness. (Just to be clear on how arbitrary the "law" is, see §2 of the canon: "If any doubt occurs, the local ordinary is to be consulted, and his judgment must be followed.")

As sad as this whole story is for McCusker's devout family, I hope they are taking some succor from the outpouring of support from gay and straight alike.