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Online Edition - Vol. VI, No. 4: June/July 2000

No more eulogies, says Irish archbishop

Funeral eulogies "distract ... sometimes seriously, from the sacred nature of the liturgy and occasionally may be offensive to the congregation", Archbishop Seán Brady of Armagh said in a March directive to Catholics in Ireland.

Requests from family members or others to speak in remembrance of the deceased, he said, should "be sensitively but firmly refused." Archbishop Brady cited the Vatican's Order of Christian Funerals, which states: "A brief homily based on the readings should always be given at the funeral liturgy, but never any kind of eulogy", he said, calling them over-emotional and inappropriate.

The archbishop has drawn some fire for his stance. The Irish Times said the ruling fell "somewhere between foolishness and insensitivity". Columnist and psychologist Maureen Gaffney accused the archbishop of "respond[ing] as always, by seeking to exclude and control."

Undeterred by his critics, Archbishop Brady has said that a liturgy committee strongly urged the directive and that a majority of priests and funeral directors support it. An earlier story in the Irish Times quoted funeral directors and priests describing dishonest eulogies extolling known public sinners, and outlandish rituals such as having the deceased buried in the colors of their favorite soccer team.

When asked about Archbishop Brady's action, Father James Moroney, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for the Liturgy, said, "In this country some bishops have expressed concern over the length, number and quality of reflections on the life of the person after Communion'' and that remarks after Communion should be "a fairly brief remembrance rather than a panegyric."

Archbishop Brady was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh in December 1994 and succeeded Cardinal Cahal Daly on November 3, 1996 (the Feast of Saint Malachy) as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. He is the 115th successor to the See of Saint Patrick.

Archbishop Brady is a member of the Episcopal Board of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL).

(Sources: Catholic News Service, The Tablet and the Irish Times)

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