EWTN Catholic Q&A
Requiem Mass
Question from Alfonso trovato on 09-17-2001:

Is it proper to have a requiem Mass said for someone who lived in an obvious state of mortal sin, i.e, someone who was living together with a Catholic who had a previous valid marriage?

Answer by Colin B. Donovan, STL on 09-27-2001:

The Code of Canon Law states the following:

Canon 1184
1. Unless (nisi) they have given some signs of repentance before their death, the following are to be deprived of ecclesiastical funeral rites:
(1) notorious apostates, heretics and schismatics;
(2) persons who had chosen the cremation of their own bodies for reasons opposed to the Christian faith;
(3) other manifest sinners for whom ecclesiastical funeral rites cannot be granted without public scandal to the faithful.
2. If some doubt should arise, the local ordinary is to be consulted; and his judgment is to be followed.

An unrepentant manifest sinner, someone in an invalid marriage is publicly such, should not receive an ecclesiastical funeral, unless they had given signs of repentance, AND scandal can be avoided. If the person reconciled with Christ before death, then it would be incumbent on the celebrant to mention this good death, and thus forestall any scandal. Sometimes it is claimed this is a private pastoral matter. However, when the public state of marriage is involved the matter is one of the common good, not just the private good.

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