Posted by: L. E. Barnes | May 25, 2010

No Funeral Mass for Her

The following post was put on Catholic blog “The Curt Jester” last week:

Denial of a Catholic Funeral

A woman who challenged a Catholic ordination ban has died. The Catholic church will not allow her to be buried at a Catholic parish.

Janine Denomme was ordained a priest in April by a group called Roman Catholic Womenpriests. She had been battling cancer and yesterday she died in her Edgewater home.

The Catholic church never recognized Denomme’s ordination. The Archdiocese of Chicago says Denomme automatically separated herself from the Church when she participated in “the simulation of the sacrament of Holy Orders.” The diocese says she knowingly and willingly participated in the simulation and brought excommunication upon herself. And because of that Denomme is denied a Catholic funeral. The Archdiocese says Denomme would only be allowed a Church burial if she gave “some sign of repentance before death.”

Denomme’s funeral mass will be held at First United Methodist Church in Evanston.

Then the poster, who signed himself simply as “Father Z,” added these remarks:

She could have avoided this problem if she had chosen to become an influential pro-abortion Senator instead. Then she could have had a televised Catholic funeral. To be fair this case is much more cut and dry compared to a case where a bishop would have some prudential decision made as to the sign of repentance of in regards to a pro-abortion Catholic politician.

This case though does make me rather sad and I pray for her and for that matter her lesbian partner Nancy.

Comments on this post were mixed, as is typically the case. Some agreed that it was right for the Church to deny her a funeral mass. One person said, “It’s called consequences. If you ex-communicate yourself, you suffer the consequences.” Another added:

And I’d also point out, the bishop is honoring her wishes. She didn’t want to be reconciled to the Church. Or to be more accurate, she only wanted to be reconciled on her terms. Well, the terms are unacceptable, and granting the funeral contradicts that and makes such a thing one big fat lie. I’d like to think that even if she died unreconciled, she still would have a problem with others lying on her behalf.

Others, however, were critical of the refusal to grant her a Catholic funeral. One person complained:

The current church is too interested in meaningless gestures like denying sacrament like communion and masses of the resurrection. Do they REALLY think this does anything other than make more people angry at the church? A pastoral response would have been more appropriate. I mean, she’s DEAD for Christ’s sake. Have a heart for those she left behind. Are they evil or merely irrelevant? I can’t decide.

My own thoughts? I feel that Church officials made the right decision. She not only defied the Church by going through an invalid ordination, but she was living in sexual immorality. Sad, very sad, though also quite revolting. I pray that God has mercy on her soul. I really do.

I feel that Father Z’s caustic comments raise a valid point as well. Why would the late Senator Kennedy receive a funeral mass when he espoused legislation that totally went against the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of life? OK, I admit I don’t know the ins and outs of canon law, and Father Z did acknowledge that bishops have more leeway in making decisions in such instances. But it makes me wonder…

How do you feel about this and other such situations?




  1. […] No Funeral Mass for Her […]

  2. I wonder how many of the priests convicted of sexual abuse will receive a funeral mass? I wonder how many of them who have already died did receive a funeral mass?

    • Good question! I wonder…

  3. Being a sinner does not mean automatic excommunication, nor is excommuniction a requirement for denying a Catholic funeral to someone.

    I think the Archbishop did the right thing. I don’t think the right thing is being done about pro-abort Catholics such as Teddy, but in neither case does my opinion matter, and I am content with that.

    Fr. Z has his own blog, by the way:

    • No, if being a sinner meant excommunication, everyone in the Church would have to be excommunicated! We’re all sinners in need of God’s grace, after all.

      Thanks for commenting!

  4. Why would the late Senator Kennedy receive a funeral mass when he espoused legislation that totally went against the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of life?

    Fr. Z answers that question in his comment: Kennedy showed signs of repentance.

    Several bloggers, including Cardinal O’Malley, cite the late senator’s correspondence with the pope, asking for the Holy Father’s prayers and admitting that he [Kennedy] hadn’t been a good Catholic.

    IOW, Kennedy had shown signs of repentance.

    Canons 1184 and 1185 address the matter of whom may be denied a Catholic funeral. Being a “manifest sinner” is on the list.

    • I pray that he did truly repent. May the Lord have mercy on him and receive him into heaven.

  5. Womenpriests strikes at the heart of the sacred priesthood and the meaning of the Holy Eucharist. Her actions in being (non)ordained incurred automatic excommunication. Her act was public and scandalous. Someone who is excommunicated cannot be given a Catholic funeral because he has willfully separated himself from the Church. We must leave her up to the mercy of God. The lady was spiritually blind which is a terribly sad state to be in. People who don’t see with the eyes of Faith will inevitably misinterpret the actions of the bishop. There is nothing to stop anyone from praying for the repose of her soul.

    • I agree. And I do pray for the repose of her sould. A sad state for a person to die in…

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