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'Queer Catholics' Upset Over 'Leaked' Homosexual Funeral Guidelines

Two kids by a Catholic grave. There are a lot of grave candles in a row and one of the kids is holding a leaf on the top of the candle. There are some flowers in the background.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Madison, Wis., wrote a memo to its priests providing instructions about how to handle the funeral of someone involved in a same-sex relationship. The memo's suggestions (notable parts are quoted below) are firmly within the Roman Catholic Church's longstanding teaching on same-sex relationships. That fact has not stopped HuffPost's Queer Voices from jumping into the fray with an article aimed at undermining the Roman Catholic Church's stance on Biblical sexual ethics.

The Diocese of Madison's vicar general, James Bartylla, emailed the priests in the diocese, and a blog called Pray Tell published the contents of that email. With the subject heading "Consideration of Funeral Rites for a Person in a Homosexual Union or Notorious Union," Bartylla opened his email with a brief explanation of the potential conflict:

You may encounter the situation in which a person in a homosexual civil union (thereby in a public union gravely contrary to the natural law) or in an otherwise notorious homosexual relationship gravely contrary to the natural law dies, and the family wants Catholic funeral rites for the deceased. My short answer to pastors and parochial vicars in these cases is to  think through the issue thoroughly and prudently and likely call the local ordinary early in the process to discuss the situation. The main issue centers around scandal and confusion (leading others into the occasion of sin or confusing or weakening people regarding the teachings of the Catholic Church in regards to sacred doctrine and the natural law), and thereby the pastoral task is to minimize the risk of scandal and confusion to others amidst the solicitude for the deceased and family.

Bartylla then pointed to specific Catholic doctrine as he moved into instruction: "If the situation warrants (see canon 1184 – specifically canon 1184.1.3), ecclesiastical funeral rites may be denied for manifest sinners in which public scandal of the faithful can’t be avoided."

The instructions that followed were pastoral and in keeping with Catholic doctrine. In other words, there is actually nothing new to see here; those to whom the email was not addressed should've kept on moving. HuffPost's Queer Voices, of course, did not keep on moving.

Carol Kuruvilla complained in the HuffPost hit piece, "A leaked set of directives attributed to a Roman Catholic diocese in Madison, Wisconsin, is reminding queer Catholics that, in both life and in death, they can be shunned by their church." Continuing, Kuruvilla adds, "Bishop Robert C. Morlino’s approval is a reflection of the hardened stance that some U.S. bishops are taking against American Catholics’ growing acceptance of queer love and relationships."

The whole article is framed by Kuruvilla as if the Roman Catholic Church is simply trying to avoid scandal instead of the Madison Diocese faithfully adhering to Church doctrine. She's wrong; Bishop Morlino's position is not a "hardened stance." It's an affirmation of what the Catholic Church believes and teaches.