Monday 19 August 2019

'Cigarettes and cans of beer not appropriate as funeral gifts' - priest tells parish in newsletter

File photo
File photo

Olivia Kelleher

A priest who has previously been outspoken about couples choosing godparents for their children who lack faith has now expressed concern about inappropriate items such as cigarettes or cans of beer being brought to the altar during funeral masses.

Fr Tomás Walsh, of Gurranabraher parish on the northside of Cork, has written in the weekly parish newsletter about what he views as unsuitable items being brought to the altar as offertory gifts.

“Bringing things such as a can of beer, a packet of cigarettes, a remote control, a mobile phone, or a football jersey does not tell us anything uplifting about the person who has died. Surely items such as a flower, a family photograph, a prayer-book or rosary reveals far more about the person who has died — and the loss he/she is to the family who grieve.”

Fr Walsh also expressed frustration with eulogies that go on “for as long as the Mass itself, (and sometimes longer)."

He said a funeral mass is simply about praying for the dead.

"A Requiem Mass is essentially the coming- together of the family along with the believing community to pray for the person who has died. At the hour of death — as we begin the journey home to God and to judgement — we desperately need God’s mercy and forgiveness, no matter how edifying the life of the person may seem.”

“In the final hours of Pope John Paul II’s life on earth, in 2005, he was told of the immense multitude who were gathering outside in St Peter’s Square. In a barely audible voice, he begged that the gathering throngs of people would pray for him. That is the greatest gift we can give our dead — prayer.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with The Echo newspaper in Cork earlier this year Fr Walsh criticised parents who are selecting nonbelievers as godparents to their children.

The priest said many times parents chose godparents who had “no faith at all” and who have “no intention in overseeing the child’s faith formation” making a promise in the church and “lying in the face of God.”

“Even more outrageous is the presence of godparents who believe nothing themselves and are permitted to make promises to God that they will oversee the faith formation of the godchild.”

He also told the paper about the failure of individuals to act appropriately in Church.

“It is becoming increasingly impossible to conduct Baptism ceremonies with children running wildly around the church - and adults, obviously only present for the celebrations afterwards, not caring about the disturbance they or their children are causing.

“This is happening in every church in the country but ‘political correctness’ forbids one from speaking out.”

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