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Archbishop order on funeral, confession

Church officials said the decision had been taken because of the 21-day nationwide lockdown
Thomas D’Souza

Mita Mukherjee   |   Calcutta   |   Published 25.03.20, 08:51 PM

The archdiocese of Calcutta on Wednesday instructed the priests of all Roman Catholic churches under it to inform local police before a funeral and ensure burial rites were held in the presence of only a few people.

Church officials said the decision had been taken because of the 21-day nationwide lockdown, imposed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Archbishop Thomas D’Souza on Wednesday issued an instruction that the body had to be taken directly to the cemetery instead of the church.

“Whenever a funeral has to take place in a Parish, the Parish priest along with a member of the family of the deceased will inform the local police about the funeral and take the body directly to the cemetery with very few people present. The priest conducts the burial rite at the cemetery. A Holy Mass for the repose of the deceased person may be celebrated by the priest privately and an official Requiem Mass after the lockdown ends and the situation becomes normal,” reads a notice issued by the archbishop.

After a person dies, the body is first taken to the church, where a prayer is held. A number of people, including family members and friends of the deceased, usually attend the service. The body is then taken to the cemetery.

In another instruction, the archbishop asked the priests not to hear confessions till further notice to avoid gatherings of too many people in churches. According to a priest, it is mandatory for all members of the church to confess ahead of the Easter and Christmas.

A “special law” has been enacted by archbishop that will allow the members to confess after the situation becomes normal.

“Under the present circumstances, all our priests are asked NOT to hear individual confessions. A priest may give general absolution following canon 962#2 of the Code of Canon Law (i.e with an act of perfect contrition on the part of the penitent, and a firm resolve to confess at the earliest possibility all the grave sins to a confessor),” the archbishop’s instructions reads.

A church official said: “Never before the church had suspended hearing of confessions before Easter.”


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