Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Limits of Mercy

One of the things I am beginning to like about Francis is that he challenges me, he makes me ask questions, especially about mercy. "Am I merciful? How far mercy should be extended? Is there a limit to it? Where does it end?"

The test came with the celebration of a Requiem Mass for the murderer and war criminal  Erich Priebke, who was responsible for the deaths 335 Italian civilians and who himself admitted to personally shooting two people. Pope Francis' Vicar for Rome, Cardinal  Agostino Vallini, had forbidden every priest in the diocese to offer a Requiem for him. From what I understand this was a blanket ban with no exceptions, it wasn't possible for example to offer a Requiem at an obscure and tiny church early in the morning, with no music, with a limited number of participants, or even with just a priest and server, behind locked doors.

Personally, I have no sympathy for murderers, anti-Semites and Nazis, as a priest I have a duty to be merciful to sinners even if I am revolted by what they have done. I would not want to celebrate Priebke's funeral rites and certainly  not in public but in his life Priebke was not excommunicated and according to his lawyer he died having been to Confession and therefore we presume was reconciled to God and his Church. Excommunicating someone post mortem which seems in effect to to be what happened to Priebke seems a terrible and unmerciful thing to do, something which belongs to the Church from a previous century. As Francis himself asked in the case of Mgsr Ricci, "Who am I to judge?" In the case of someone who has just died, who now stands before God's throne Catholics are indeed not called to judge but to implore God's mercy, the unfaithful become 'the faithful departed'.

Certainly, Cardinal Vallini was right to take in account the opprobrium of the faithful and even of the secular world but in this case it seems 'the right-wing Catholic cult, that has split from Rome', the SSPX, has been more merciful than the Pope's Cardinal Vicar. Though we might be suspicious of their motives, they have been willing to accept the inevitable condemnation that comes with being merciful to those society vilifies.

It could be that we are dealing with two different understandings of funeral here. In the rite which was offered for Priebke, whether he had killed millions or was eventually raised to the altar as canonised saint, it would have been the same, it would have implored God's mercy, recognising that 'all have fallen short of the Glory of God'. Perhaps Cardinal Vallini understood a funeral to be 'a celebration of the life of'' Priebke, with readings, music and even the colour of the vestments chosen by loving friends and relatives and a sermon full of platitudes preached by a sympathetic priest.

The question remains, who showed mercy, the diocese of Rome or the priest who said Mass for him carried out the final obsequies? Who showed the mercy of God and questioned the values of the world?


rocinante said...

Thanks for this post, Fr. I came to the same observation when I heard about this.

Richard Collins said...

One of the less good things about the pre Vatican II Church was that it barred those who had committed suicide not only from a Requiem Mass but also from burial in consecrated ground.
I see nothing wrong in the SSPX giving the Requiem Mass for a nazi, much as I dislike all that he did and stood for and, like you Father, I hope that none of us are denied a funeral Mass based on assumptions of our being in a state of mortal sin.

Genty said...

It's a difficult one, but one has to believe that at the last Priebke truly repented and acknowledge that a low-key Requiem Mass asking for God's mercy was a Catholic duty.
I think we also have to accept that for many who feel revulsion over his crimes a Requiem Mass smacks of approval.
This is the sort of occasion when a public explanation of Catholic teaching and the purpose of a Requiem Mass should be made crystal clear.
Instead, it's heads below the parapet again and more confusion.

Sixupman said...

I am of the view that he should have been afforded a diocesan funeral - how he is dealt with in Judgement is a matter beyond our knowledge.

The avoidance of publicity would be impossible as it appears the hospital/morgue disclosed the transfer of the remains from their keeping. This resulted in both sides, fascist and anti-fascist, exploiting the situation.

SSPX acted out of Charity and not from neo-political ideology which will undoubtedly be construed.

Frederick Jones said...

Has any priest of the SSPX yet said a requiem mass for Adolf Hitler?

Since he was not a holocaust denier they may have difficulties, but he was after all a baptised catholic.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I knew of a priest, many of whose family, including his sister and mother, had been killed in the holocaust who regularly offered Mass for his family's killers, I suppose he would have included Hitler.

For this priest it was a way of discovering the mystery of God's Mercy and stating his own Jewish origins, he wasn't SSPX though.

I haven't ever excluded anyone from my prayers.

John Fisher said...

Masses can always be offered afterwards for his repose. What of the man's need to make amends. This sort of thing does not just consists of whispered words while finding breathing hard. It demands making amends. Amends and penance would have, should have begun with a public or what was to be make public apology. Not all will be saved Fr. Blake. Unlike Faust he confessed. I wonder if his victims got a funeral or where just buried in a hole.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Tell me where I suggest all might be saved?

Cosmos said...

It would have been wild and wonderful had the Pope said, "We'll take him, and pray that he has converted from his wickedness and God shows his mercy to him. None of us are permanently beyond God's love. All of can repent."

The fact is, though, whatever you blieve about sin, salvation, mercy, and redemption, it is a big deal to associate yourself with a Nazi. Your reputation is likely to take a big hit. We don't want to confuse anyone!

Murray said...

Father, I share your sentiments: "If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?" If it were up to me, I would think a private Requiem Mass appropriate. But according to a commenter at Father Z’s blog, Canon 1184 states that funeral Masses are to be denied to (among others) “manifest sinners to whom a church funeral could not be granted without public scandal to the faithful.” And some in the same thread claim that Priebke defended his wartime actions to the end of his life, so he would not necessarily be in the same position as (say) the late Bernard Nathanson, who repented publicly and made amends for his former career as an abortionist.

Unknown said...

Fr Florian Abrahamowicz was expelled from SPXX in 2009, for breaches of discipline which included the public burning of the Documents of Vatican II, and making a number of anti-Jewish comments.

As I am sure Fr Blake knows Canon Law has a something to say about grounds in which funeral rites may be denied:
Can. 1184 §1 Church funeral rites are to be denied to the following, unless they gave some signs of repentance before death:

1° notorious apostates, heretics and schismatics;

2° those who for anti-christian motives chose that their bodies be cremated;

3° other manifest sinners to whom a Church funeral could not be granted without public scandal to the faithful.

§2 If any doubt occurs, the local Ordinary is to be consulted and his judgement followed.

In a number of public statements Priebke refused to express remorse for his actions during the war and defended the killing of the 355 Romans.

Anonymous said...

Father, I'm glad to read this post. I have to say, I was completely scandalized by this decision. Unless his lawyer was lying about his having gone to confession and received absolution, I cannot understand why he was refused a funeral (not a big, celebration of life nonsense, but a proper Catholic funeral wherein his soul could be prayed for). When I read this news, I'm sad to say that the thought that crossed my mind was 'does the Church only not judge when it makes us popular now?'

Genty, what you write makes me so sad. As Catholics, we can perhaps understand that people may feel that a Requiem Mass indicates approval, but we cannot deny our Magisterial teachings (i.e. that anyone, no matter how great a sinner, may be forgiven through the sacrament of confession, which he received) to win some kind of secular popularity contest. I only hope that when I die, there aren't enough people who think badly of me that the Church would deny me a funeral with prayers for my soul, because heaven knows I'll need it. I don't mean this as a rebuke of you - I know you're merely commenting on what others think. But I think we must combat this line of thinking.

I'm a history teacher, and next week, we're taking the kids to Poland to visit Auschwitz. By no means should we minimize this man's crimes. But for goodness sake, he confessed and was absolved. Do we no longer believe that confession is effectual for the absolution of sins?

mark said...

My apologies, you were right after all. The number of victims was 335.
Priebke arranged the execution of 335 men and boys. This was the war crime for which he was eventually convicted.
In the 'testimony' which Priebke arranged to be published after his death, he expressed no regret for any of his actions in war, and he also took the opportunity to deny that the holocaust took place.
For various reasons, it seems unlikely that Priebke made a valid confession. But God will decide whether to show mercy to him.
We know, from Priebke's lawyer, that a number of neo-Nazi sympathisers had been invited to the funeral ceremony, which undermines the suggestion that it was to be a small, family affair.
In any event, and thanks to the protests of the mayor and people of Albano, the SSPX ceremony had to be called off.

GOR said...

I vividly recall a day in March 1953… My sister came home from school to announce that the nuns had asked the students to pray for the soul of Josef Stalin, who had just died.

My mother was aghast…”prayers for that ______?” she exclaimed. I don’t recall the term she used, but it wasn’t complimentary. At that age I didn’t know anything about Stalin, but was still struck by my mother’s attitude. Someone was beyond praying for…?

I have the same feeling in this situation. I’ve been to the memorial at the Ardeatine Caves and I’m sure there are many Romans living who are descendants of those murdered there. But the response of the Rome Diocese seems to me to be political – political correctness? - rather than religious.

A private requiem could have been celebrated away from public view. Yes, people would find out and there would be demonstrations, but since when do we refrain from praying for the dead because of the risk of public criticism?

We all will be in need of prayers after we die – some of us more than others…

Hughie said...

Priebke never at any time, in any circumstances, ever evinced any regret, of any degree, for what he had done: "I was just following orders" and "retribution is permitted under international law" DESPITE the fact that he admitted that he had miscalculated and had ordered detained and executed five men more than was called for. Realising his mistake, he ordered the five shot in any case so that they could never act as witnesses to what had been done.

On what basis is it believed that a death bed confession genuinely occurred? Who heard the confession? Why did he not inform Cardinal Vallini, his ecclesiastical superior, of this when the ban on a funeral Mass was issued? Is it OK to ban funerals for Mafiosi in Sicily but not for murdering Nazi scum in Rome?

My aunt was German and grew up a Catholic under the Nazis. I have a friend whose mum and dad were German Jews. Many of his aunts and uncles were exterminated at Auschwitz because unlike his dad they didn't get out of Germany in time. I am for the first time totally perplexed at the sentiments expressed both by your good self, Father, and by those who have commented.

Anil Wang said...

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that the funeral was viewed as 'a celebration of the life of'' Priebke.

This is the key problem. That has never been the purpose of the funeral. A funeral is able asking God's mercy, since the departed is before the judgement seat of God.

Memento mori. All of us pass this way, and many of us will die in disgrace without a friend, and unable to undo a wrong we have committed. If popularity and being guilt free is a criteria for a Catholic funeral, then God have mercy on all of us wretches that find ourselves in that state.

This is something that the Church *should* be able to express to the world, and it *should* be possible for even sworn enemies of the Church to accept the true purpose of a funeral.

The fact that we haven't and many priests have turned the Catholic funeral into a canonization and celebration ceremony is an unmerciful disgrace. Who will pray for the dead if they are supposedly already in heaven? Why are relatives, who want to mourn, being pressured into coming up with feel good stories at a funeral mass, even if they know the dead had flaws? Why has the Church become so worldly that it ignores its sacramental duties to a repentant sinner, because "of what people will think"? If even the Church has no mercy, how why shouldn't a Judas or a Saint Paul die in despair since it appears their sins can never to be forgiven?

Anonymous said...

Hughie, I don't think anyone is suggesting that what he did isn't evil. It was. What some are saying is that no matter what evil we do, if we confess our sins and do penance, we are forgiven, no matter whether we are non-famous adulterers or infamous murderers.

Anil Wang said...


Make no mistake. Priebke will be judged. This judgement will be swift and just. And if his death bed confession were not genuine, his act of sacrilege will add more coals to the fires of Hell. Trust in God. He knows us, what we have done, and who we really are more than we do ourselves.

But the purpose of the mass isn't judgement or endorsing the person, and it is certainly not able guessing whether a death bed confession was genuine. God will sort that out. But the Church has a mission and even the most hated and despicable people have found mercy in the Church, and some have become great saints.

Unfortunately, a Catholic has no choice in the matter. In the Lord's prayer we explicitly ask God to condemn us if we do not forgive even Nazi/Stalin/Pol Pot/etc scum. And if the confession was real and God judges that mercy is due, you will be faced with the prospect of ultimately being in Heaven with him one day (after purgatory). And if you cannot accept that prospect because of all the harm he has caused, there is only one place left to you. God didn't give us any other options, nor did he give us a way to "go to the other side of heaven to avoid those sorts of people". Please read C. S. Lewis's "The Great Divorce", which presents exactly this scenario.

Cosmos said...


Everyone agrees the Nazis were monsters. From my perspective, I also understand why the Church ban funerals for certain groups.

I took it as a premise of this discussion that the man repented. If he didn't, obvously this is a different matter altogether.

However, if he did, Christians believe that human beings can repent and convert, even if they once were part of organizations that made them into "scum."

This Pope has talked a lot about shaking things up and making mistakes in order to get out the message of God's radical love and mercy. Who is more in need of mercy than a Nazi? If Christians even pray for Nazis to recieve mercy (pray for your ENEMIES-- Nazis are the enemy), then God's mercy is, indeed, astounding.

parepidemos said...

Father Blake,

It would appear that there is some disagreement about whether or not Priebke confessed before his death. There is, however, ample evidence that, even until recently, he refused to admit he had done anything wrong.

Like you, I hold that absolutely no one should be denied prayer, but in this case I think a quiet graveside service would have been more appropriate. I certainly find it reprehensible that there are some using this to take cheap shots at Pope Francis.

Christopher said...

For me, Father, you make a very valid argument.

@Hughie: I don't know about Sicilian mafiosi, but Manchester ones get the full treatment (I refer you to this).

I feel that those who are quoting canon law are missing the point: ordinaries often judge that manifest grave sinners should be permitted the usual obsequies despite the risk of scandal just for the very reason of showing mercy. And often this happens even when there is no testimony that the person has repented and received absolution (again, I cite the Noonan case (above) as to the point).

To the person who said that we "have to make amends" (I wouldn't put it this way myself - we can of course never "make amends" for our own sin) I can only say: that is precisely what Purgatory is for, the place where the temporal consequences of sin are overcome. The fact that someone dies without the opportunity to do penance should make us more inclined to pray for their soul, not less.

For me, it seems there is a grave danger in regarding some sins as so bad they cannot be washed clean by the blood of Jesus. Indeed, such an attitude could, if pushed, be interpreted as envy of another's spiritual good, itself a very grave sin. The Church keeps the gates of forgiveness open until the very last minute for good reason: her Lord commands it (think of those workmen in the vineyard).

Kate Edwards said...

According to the media reports, the Diocese did in fact allow a private requiem to be said at his house. His lawyer rejected that offer, wanting a public ceremony, presumably to accompany the Nazi propaganda media interview he arranged to be released after his death.

Praying for such men is one thing; according them public rights of respect of the Church is quite another.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Do you know where you read that?

Unknown said...

You say we may be right to be suspicious of the motives of the SSPX, and yet suggest that they are perhaps being more 'merciful' than the Roman Authorities. If their motives are dodgy and I suspect they are entirely so, how on earth can they be showing mercy towards this man. They show nothing more than cynicism.

mark said...

Fr Ray, if I may answer your question to Kate Edwards, there was a CBS News report on 14 October 2013 (it is available on their website) which included the following:-

"Rome's archdiocese had told Giachini [Priebke's lawyer] to have the funeral at home "in strict privacy" and that Pope Francis' vicar for Rome, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, had prohibited any Rome church from celebrating it. But Giachini refused, pressing instead for a private church Mass. The archdiocese responded by reminding all Roman priests that they must abide by Vallini's decision."

Fr Ray Blake said...

That might be a 'behind closed doors' solution, or it could be a 'do it yourself' solution.

Connecticut Catholic Corner said...

I've seen different versions of this story. The AP story says that Priebke DID repent and was absolved of his sins. The LifeSiteNews article claims he was unrepenting till the end- BUT the link they give to the Vatican statement didn't say that. From my view, it referenced a possible "cause of scandal" to the faithful if the Church had done a funeral for him.
I find that a bit hypocritical considering well known "Catholic" politicians who support abortion & gay marriage etc, have been giving very public Catholic funerals- like Ted Kennedy. Now there was a possible "cause of scandal" yet no one seemed to bat an eye.

mark said...

Fr Ray, here's what the CNS website dated 16th October 2013 reports:-

'The Diocese of Rome had refused Giachini's request to allow a funeral to take place in a church or chapel.
In a statement issued Oct. 14, the diocese said, "Considering all the circumstances of the case, the ecclesial authorities believed that prayer for the deceased and entrusting him to the mercy of God -- the aims of a religious funeral -- should take place in the strictest privacy."
"Prayers for the dead were never denied," the diocese said, but the church had a right to insist the rites be "reserved and discreet."'

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

God is not mocked, God is just. Extending God's mercy is the work of the Church - whether or not one is abusing that mercy, only God knows. "And the Lord said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground."

Sins that cry out to heaven for vengence:

'Wilful murder, which is a voluntary and unjust taking away another’s life.'

'The sin of Sodom, or carnal sin against nature, which is a voluntary shedding of the seed of nature, out of the due use of marriage, or lust with a different sex.'

'Oppressing of the poor, which is a cruel, tyrannical, and unjust dealing with inferiors.'

'To defraud working men of their wages, which is to lessen, or detain it from them.'

Unknown said...

Refusing a Requiem Mass and Christian Burial for someone, as Canon 1184 states, is less a matter of that person's objective relationship with God, than it is a matter of the public scandal that might be given by such rites. Even if Priebke had made a death bed confession, the public nature of his crimes and his public lack of remorse would seem to provide the grounds for public scandal (as evidenced by the protests) sufficient for the bishop to deny those rites to him. Since his confession is only in the internal forum, it does not change the fact of scandal.

Remember, the denial of Christian funeral rites is not the denial of a necessary Sacrament, like Viaticum or confession. I hope that he was able to repent before he died, but that is ultimately irrelevant to the question of whether the bishop had grounds to refuse Christian burial.

Also, this does not absolve his victims and survivors of their duty to forgive, not does it absolve the rest of us to pray for him along with the rest of the dead. And it does not prevent any priest from offering a 'memorial Mass' for the repose of his soul. Just not what in the USA is called the Mass of Christian Burial together with the proper burial rites.

Unknown said...

The fate of Priebke is now in the hands of God, not man.

Would a public funeral not re-open and inflame the wounds of the relatives of those who were murdered without reason ? Despite the years which have passed, there are many who still feel the pain of those acts in the caves which took place many years ago

It is understood that a private requiem behind closed doors was offered but refused by the lawyer who represented him.

The same lawyer also released his last will and testament which seemed to be anything but a statement of Christian contrition. It can be accessed here:

It does not seem different from that set out by the man himself when he was interviewed fifty years after the massacre and when he was still at liberty in Argentina. The interview is in English and can be accessed here:

In the interview he affirmed the validity of the killings, denied that children were among the victims, and smeared the innocence and reputation of the victims by asserting that they were either communists or terrorists

Pelerin said...

Isn't this a good example of how an incomplete news item can spread like wildfire and be used as criticism toward the Pope?

It now appears that a public Requiem was forbidden - quite understandably - but that a private Requiem would be allowed but this offer was rejected. A different slant to the statement that the Church forbade a Requiem at all.

Fifty years ago this month popular singer, Edith Piaf, was buried. She also was refused a Church Requiem the reason given being her 'colourful' lifestyle although a Priest did accompany her to the graveside in the Pere-Lachaise cemetery.

Fast forward fifty years and last week Masses were celebrated for Piaf in France. One film excerpt rather shocked me as one of the Priests proceeded to sing a couple of her songs with microphone in front of the altar of the church. The news announcer said it was during the Mass but I was unable to verify this from the scenes shown although another Priest could be seen in vestments next to the altar.

It is understood that Piaf always retained her Faith and she had a particular devotion to St Therese. I wonder whether she had been allowed a private ceremony but that this was not reported so over the years people understood that she had been refused a Church ceremony full stop?

Anonymous said...

This thread brings back memories of the Ted Kennedy funeral some years ago, which took place in the full pomp of Catholic institutional approval - to the scandal of many.

George said...

It is a fearful thing indeed to fall into the hands of the humble Pope.

In contrast to the concern shown by the Vatican for the opinions of men, I'm reminded of this quote from Blessed Pius IX: "I couldn't careless what the world thinks."

Subvet said...

A few comments have already been made regarding the rites for Senator Ted Kennedy.

Kennedy's public actions have ennabled the slaughter of millions. Priebke was responsible for a few hundred.

And the beat goes on...

GOR said...

But Richard, Ted Kennedy wrote a self-serving letter to Pope Benedict listing his ‘accomplishments’ - including the following:

”I want you to know, your Holiness, that in my 50 years of elected office I have done my best to champion the rights of the poor and open doors of economic opportunity. I’ve worked to welcome the immigrant, to fight discrimination and expand access to health care and education. I’ve opposed the death penalty and fought to end war. Those are the issues that have motivated me and have been the focus of my work as a U.S. Senator.”

Do you see anything here about protecting the unborn? Of course not – because he didn’t!

His lavish funeral was a scandal to many Catholics - cementing the conviction that many in the US hierarchy are more concerned with the powerful than the powerless. It’s hard to imagine that had a similar situation occurred in Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio would have acted like Cardinal O’Malley.

Hughie said...

Sorry, I haven't been on-line for a day or two for personal reasons (a friend died).

The Diocese of Rome, on Wednesday, October 16, issued a statement which said in part: “Considering all the circumstances of the case, the ecclesiastical authorities believed that prayer for the deceased and entrusting him to the mercy of God — the aims of a religious funeral — should take place in the strictest privacy. Prayers for the dead were never denied.” But the church had a right to insist that the rites be “reserved and discreet.”

On that same day, Mgr Marcello Semeraro, Bishop of Albano (where the SSPX Requiem Mass was to be held) and secretary of the Papal G8, was quoted in Corriere della Sera pointing out that the church would never prohibit prayers for anyone but that Canon Law does provide for a Bishop to deny a public funeral to a “manifest sinner” in order to avoid scandalizing the faithful. He then pointed out that in Priebke’s case “the crime was public and notorious, the lack of conversion was public and notorious, and the scandal it would have raised in the Christian community was public and notorious.”

Whilst it can be difficult in some cases to determine if all four elements necessarily present to engage canonical reprehension — is it a sin (murder?)? Is it a grave sin (multiple murder?)? Is it manifest, that is widely, publicly known (who hasn’t heard of the Adreatine Caves massacre?)? Has it been obstinately persevered in (in his last interview he denied the Holocaust and persisted in the “only obeying orders” defence?)? — often it is not. Here it wasn’t.

UnamSanctam said...

Father Blake, for calling the SSPX a "cult", I won't be reading your blog anymore if that is the theological and intellectual level of your articles.

Fr Ray Blake said...

'cult' in quotation marks, I think it was the BBC who called it that.

Christopher said...

Hughie: Primarily, my prayers for your friend.

Secondarily. I feel that perhaps you are not engaging with the real point that I and others have made. No one disputes the right of the relevant authority to forbid public funerary rites, masses and so-forth. However, the question is over the way the discretion to use this power is applied in various cases: which, in most situations, tilts towards leniency, towards, we would say, a merciful view. The same is true also of the way suicide is understood, a manifest, grave sin, almost in every case it cannot be confessed and repented: yet the Church takes all the circumstances into account and proceeds almost universally today with the normal rites.

The Noonan case I cited certainly fulfilled all the criteria required in Canon Law: grave sin (multiple murder), publicly manifest, and obstinately preserved in. Yet the local ordinary did not forbid anything. I mention this, only because I am familiar with it: there may be others. What is so very different about Priebke? What specificity in the case caused the person in authority to judge that the public rites, or even private ones in a church, should be denied? This is the question which has really not been answered, and seems to be skirted around consistently: whether the Nazism of the past is a graver evil than the moral Nazification of the of the modern world? Why is the former, so manifestly and clearly evil, condemned so fiercely, while the latter, whose evil is occult and esoteric, and therefore needs to be "called out" the more prophetically, is tolerated and even celebrated?

Hughie said...

UnamSanctam: “Father Blake, for calling the SSPX a ‘cult’, I won't be reading your blog anymore if that is the theological and intellectual level of your articles.”

“(T)he theological and intellectual level…” What else can SSPX be called?

A cult? A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false? Yip. A particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies? Yip. Authoritarian, charismatic leader? Don’t know now but originally? Yip. False, unorthodox, or extremist? Yip. You deny that? Ever actually read the historically accurate details of the Council of Trent? The Council before which, according to the SSPX, the Catholic Church never really existed and after which the Catholic Church never had the capacity to think, or develop, or be influenced by the Holy Spirit?

I’ll take Fr Ray’s theology and intellect any time. Even although I am confident he won’t actually agree with me here.

Red Maria said...

Unlike the other people who've commented here members of my family were murdered and tortured by Nazi war criminals like Erich Preibke.

No one has yet thought to ask us how we feel about his corpse being denied obsequies by the Roman Catholic Church.

For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever let me tell you that I am delighted by Cardinal Vallini's decision which at last puts compassion where it should be: the victims of Preibke and his fellow Nazi serial killers.

My opinion is not a singular one. The president of the Italian Jewish communities, Riccardo Pacifici praised those who resisted and protested against Preibke's funeral.

Had I been in Italy this week, I would have joined the protesters too.

Pacifici said it made him feel proud to be a Roman. Similarly, Cardinal Vallini has made me proud to be a Roman Catholic.

SSPX isn't just a cult, it's a fascist cult. As well as giving a funeral to Preike for years it harboured the Vichy war criminal Paul Touvier from justice.

I note Richard, GOR and Subvet's comments, comparing Preibke to Ted Kennedy with contempt.

If people want to pray for Preibke let them make a donation to, say, Hope not Hate or the Holocaust Education Trust every time they do so.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Red Maria,
I think many of us with European and/ or Jewish blood can make the same claim on behalf of relatives who suffered under me Priebke but as Pope Francis says we can't base on our morality on 'ideology' but on the Gospel, which always demands mercy.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Which of us would not be content with a private funeral for ourselves? Insisting on a public funeral in this case shows a desire to make some point which is likely to scandalize and hurt many and possibly provoke public disorder. The authorities were quite right to insist on a private funeral.

Mike Cliffson said...
Nota in merito alle esequie del signor Erich Priebke
In merito alla celebrazione dei funerali del signor Erich Priebke è necessario precisare quanto segue. La richiesta è stata presentata al parroco non dai familiari del defunto, ma da una signora a nome dell’avvocato del signor Priebke, nella mattina di sabato 12 ottobre.
L’autorità ecclesiastica, considerate tutte le circostanze del caso, ha ritenuto che la preghiera per il defunto e il suo affidamento alla misericordia di Dio – finalità proprie della celebrazione delle esequie religiose – dovessero avvenire in forma strettamente privata, cioè nella casa che ospitava le spoglie del defunto. Pertanto, nel rispetto della legge della Chiesa, non è stata negata la preghiera per il defunto, ma è stata decisa una modalità diversa da quella abituale, riservata e discreta. La proposta è stata rifiutata dall’avvocato del signor Priebke.
Pertanto, nel rispetto della normativa canonica, tutti i ministri cattolici, nella diocesi di Roma, si atterranno alle disposizioni stabilite dall’Ordinario.

14 ottobre 2013

Reflected above

Vincent said...

Two things here: I happen to know the SSPX priests in Rome - or at least two of them. They strike me as good men, but they're very rule bound in the sense of a clear idea of what they can/can't do. I suspect that's the price of ignoring the mainstream church - they begin to take matters into their own hands.

Secondly, the Italians I know are a bit more.... 'politically monochrome' for want of a better expression... They tend to claim themselves either to be fascist or communist in political beliefs. Not very easy for us English people to understand, certainly, but that might have a bearing on the matter...

Finally. The Latin Requiem Mass isn't "celebratory", it's sobering. I've just had to organise and MC one for a family member, and I have to say that a more solemn and sobering ceremony I have never been involved in. Sure, in some modern churches the priest wears white and 'canonizes' the person involved before they're in the grave, but if they're SSPX that wouldn't be the case.

Really though, some SSPX priests are willing to do anything if it's one in the eye for the mainstream church, and that's rather sad. But then it would be nice if the Roman diocese would really tell us what their reasoning was. I don't know, I don't want to have an opinion: it was SSPX, they were always going to get bad press, but then maybe they deserved it in this instance...?

Unknown said...

In the Priebke case, there is no mention of the prior killing of 33 German soldiers by Italian civilians, as if their deaths were of no consequence. This resulted in the retaliatory murder of 335 Italian civilians. The Italians knew that there would be retaliation. My father-in-law, a German soldier, a Catholic, was killed in that war. The SPPX offered a Requiem Mass for the soul of Priebke who was baptised in 1947. In this matter the SSPX wins and the Vatican loses. The "Anti-semitism" card was played against SSPX as usual. These cries of "Anti-semitism" "Anti-semitism" are reminiscent of others cries made so long ago "Crucify Him" "Crucify Him".

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...