5.7.3 Ecclesiastical Funeral Rites

1. The rites and norms of the Order of Christian Funerals are to be observed in all Catholic funeral services. [1] If an individual prayer or other text is not appropriate to the circumstances of the deceased, a minister should make any necessary adaptations according to its provisions.

2. Additional pastoral directives and resources for the use of those rites in the diocese are contained in Blessed are Those Who mourn: A Guideline for the Celebration of the Funeral Rites, and available at the diocesan website. [2] Those who celebrate the rites or assist in them should be familiar with its contents. Pastors are advised to provide copies to local funeral directors.

3. After interment or entombment, an entry is to be made in the death register of the parish. [3] (See #5.G.8 Recording and Reporting Deaths for any additional details.)

4. If the clergy of a parish are truly impeded from conducting the Vigil for the Deceased or committal in a particular case, and other Catholic clergy cannot be obtained, the pastor may appoint a trained lay member of the Christian faithful to conduct the Vigil or committal. [4] (The celebration of a funeral is reserved to a priest or deacon, and the funeral Mass itself reserved to a priest.)

5. Cremated remains “are to be buried in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium.” [5] The burial of such remains on parish land other than in its cemetery is prohibited. [6] Nor are they to be scattered in any matter or maintained indefinitely outside of burial or entombment. The mixing of cremated remains is prohibited.

6. Since all life is sacred, the remains of fetuses and stillborns of Catholic parents should be given reverent Christian burial. Burial service is provided without cost or cemetery fees in diocesan cemeteries, and parish cemeteries are encouraged to adopt a similar practice. [7]

7. The final disposition of bodies or organs donated for medical research, training or transplant should involve appropriate burial or other reverent entombment and those funeral rites or prayers which the pastor and family judge to be most suitable. [8]

8. When a Catholic is buried in an unblessed cemetery, then the individual grave is to be blessed. [9]

[1] c. 1176 §2. Order of Christian Funerals, approved NCCB [USCCB], 1985; confirmed by decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship, 1987, appendix approved November 1996, confirmed July 1997, and made mandatory November 2, 1997. [Hereafter OCF.]  

[2] Blessed are Those Who Mourn: A Guideline for the Celebration of the Funeral Rites, prepared by Office of Worship; approved by Bishop of Lansing, August 22, 2007. Available at diocesan website. [Hereafter Funeral Guideline.] 

[3] cc. 535 §1 and 1182.

[4] Multi-dicasteries instruction, The Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priests, Ecclesiae de mysterio (August 15, 1997) art. 13. Available at Vatican website,

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/laity/documents/rc_con_interdic_doc_15081997_en.ht ml. [Hereafter Collaboration.]

[5] Order of Christian Funerals, appendix (1997), n. 417.

[6] See c. 1176 §3.

[7] Adapted from Diocese of Lansing Cemeteries - Rules and Regulations for Cemetery Burial (May 1, 2000) appendix, 2b. 

[8] Ibid. 

[9] OCF, n. 218, c. 1240; Ordo exsequiarum, n. 53.

Date approved by Bishop

Posted by
Msgr. S. J. Raica, chancellor