CatholicNews asked Father John-Paul Tan, parish priest of the Franciscan-run Church of St. Mary of the Angels, and who holds a Masters in Canon Law, the guidelines on funerals in the Singapore archdiocese
CATHOLICNEWS: What is a Catholic funeral, and what is its significance?
FATHER JOHN-PAUL TAN: A Catholic funeral is essentially there to pray for the deceased and to console the family members at their loss. Liturgical symbols remind us of our gift of baptism and its promise of eternal life. These prayers and symbols reassure faith and give hope during this time of grief.
Under what circumstances would a Catholic be denied a Catholic funeral in the Singapore archdiocese?
Almost never, except those mentioned in canon law regarding those who have notoriously abandoned the faith. In these cases, it would logically make no sense of having a Catholic funeral if the deceased does not believe in the Catholic faith in the first place.
Generally, Catholics have a right to pastoral care and a deceased Catholic’s family has that right to be pastorally supported during this time of loss.
Under what circumstances would a non-Catholic be allowed a Catholic funeral in the Singapore archdiocese?
As far as canon law is concerned, non-Catholics who are able to receive Catholic funerals are catechumens, who are to be reckoned as among Christ’s faithful, children who died before baptism and baptised persons from other churches if their own minister is not available.
Other situations that require pastoral judgement will have to be made either by the parish priest or the archbishop.