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Leaked Memo Reveals Gay Wisconsin Catholics Can Be Banned From Church Funeral Rites Over ‘Scandal’ of Their Marriages

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Calls Same-Sex Marriage ‘Notorious Homosexual Relationship Gravely Contrary to the Natural Law’

Gay Madison, Wisconsin Catholics in same-sex relationships may be banned from having a church funeral. A recent memo tells priests how to handle requests for Catholic burial rites if “a person in a homosexual civil union (thereby in a public union gravely contrary to the natural law) or in an otherwise notorious homosexual relationship gravely contrary to the natural law dies.”

Presumably the “otherwise notorious homosexual relationship gravely contrary to the natural law” is also known as a legal marriage.

The memo goes on to explain that the real “issue” is not that the deceased was gay or presumably in a loving, monogamous, possibly life-long union that may have been a legal marriage, but that by allowing the deceased to be given Catholic funeral rites might lead others to “weaken” into thinking that married gay people are acceptable.

“The main issue centers around scandal and confusion (leading others into the occasion of sin or confusing or weakening people regarding the teachings of the Catholic Church in regards to sacred doctrine and the natural law), and thereby the pastoral task is to minimize the risk of scandal and confusion to others amidst the solicitude for the deceased and family.”

The word “scandal” is mentioned six times.

It goes on to ask these questions:

  • Was the deceased or the “partner” a promoter of the “gay” lifestyle?  What is the attitude of the deceased’s family members, especially towards the Church?
  • Did the deceased give some signs of repentance before death?

It even directs the Church to ban the mere mention of the deceased’s husband or wife.

“Any surviving ‘partner’ [note the scare quotes] should not have any public or prominent role at any ecclesiastical funeral rite or service.”

The memo, published by the Pray Tell blog on Sunday was issued by James Bartylla, the vicar general of the Diocese of Madison. Bishop Robert Morlino is that diocese’s bishop.

“In a statement,” HuffPost reports, “the diocese’s communications director Brent King told HuffPost that the communication published on the Pray Tell blog is ‘not an official diocesan policy.’ However, he said ‘it does conform with the mind of the bishop and meet his approval.'”

While the email is not official church policy, Bishop Robert C. Morlino’s approval is a reflection of the hardened stance that some U.S. bishops are taking against American Catholics’ growing acceptance of queer love and relationships.

LGBT faith leaders are outraged.

This document is the very antithesis of pastoral care,” Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, said in a statement to HuffPost. “It shows that this bishop believes that lesbian and gay people who have lived a deep commitment to a spouse or partner should be demeaned even in death. Our families could be refused the sacraments of our faith at the moment of their greatest grief. This is heartless. It is cruel. It is unchristian in the extreme.”

Earlier this year Illinois Bishop Thomas Paprocki decreed anyone in a same-sex marriage will be banned from being given a Catholic funeral unless before death they denounce their marriage. In other words, Paprocki forces gay Catholics to choose between their soul mates and their souls.

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