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The popular press has recently been most critical of Melbourne's Archbishop Denis Hart for his stand on the conduct of Catholic funerals, particularly in regard to inappropriate music and eulogies.
My experience has been that when the popular press criticises a Catholic bishop it is a sign that the bishop has done something right. It should be noted that His Grace is not introducing anything new, but is upholding existing regulations which, unfortunately, have been widely neglected throughout the archdiocese.
A Catholic funeral is not a celebration of life. Only God knows if, and to what extent, a life is worthy of celebration. The indications are that many saved souls find their way to heaven via purgatory, and a funeral is an ideal opportunity to pray for the soul of the deceased.
It is sad that many Catholics have joined the criticism of Archbishop Hart, a poor reflection on the state of modern religious instruction.
The criticism has again led to accusations that the Church is out of step with current thinking. Such criticism has been around since before the time of Nero and it is true. For Christ said that His kingdom was not of this world. Hence it is not the duty of the Church to comply with man's wishes, but rather it is man's duty to comply with the will of God.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 23 No 10 (November 2010), p. 13
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