Flowers at a cemetery

Spanish bishop bans eulogies, “inappropriate music” at funerals

From 1 October, there’ll be no more eulogies or testimonials to the deceased in funerals in the diocese of Huesca, in Spain.

That’s because of a new decree from the bishop, Julián Ruiz, who considers such homages to the dead contrary to the “most genuine and profound” sense of the Catholic funeral liturgy.

Driving the news

In a decree posted on the diocesan website, Ruiz banned these four common funeral practices:

  1. Farewell letters and thank you notes
  2. Tributes praising or summarising the life of the deceased. “Neither eulogies or speeches of praise”, Ruiz warned.
  3. Prayers and readings not included in the funeral ritual
  4. Music and songs “not adequate” to the occasion
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Go deeper

Ruiz said the reason for his bans was to give a “greater understanding” and a “greater liturgical sense” to funerals in the diocese.

The bishop’s idea is that the vetos might challenge non-Catholic’s “heartbreaking, empty or nihilistic conception” of death.

In the Christian faith, death “can be lived as a joyful and confident announcement of eternal life and of hope in the resurrection”, Bishop Ruiz wrote.

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Why it matters

Ruiz’s decree is unprecedented in the Aragonese dioceses, if not in the Spanish Church as a whole.

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While many Spanish bishops have made it clear that a funeral is not a private matter or a social event, they have never banned eulogies and homages, as Ruiz has.

Some priests in the Huesca diocese have expressed their disagreement with these practices, which they consider “very modern”.

But it’s worth remembering that just last month there was a protest in Toledo because a priest forbade a daughter of a deceased person from reading a goodbye letter at the funeral.

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Cameron Doody

Director and editor at Novena
PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. Lecturer in ethics at Loyola University Maryland, Alcalá de Henares (Spain) campus. Religion journalist with 4 years experience.
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