Pastoral concern for complainants must be considered in the situation where a priest/religious dies following receipt of a credible allegation. However, consideration must also be given to the family and friends of the priest or religious when deciding how to conduct the funeral and interment.
Careful thought should be given by the Bishop to the way the requiem liturgy and interment is conducted. Publicly praising the respondent’s qualities as a priest could have a seriously detrimental impact on complainants. Although each case is different, consideration should be given to the following:
1.Who will take responsibility for the funeral arrangements?
If the Bishop is responsible, consider the following issues:
- The appropriateness of a death notice from the Bishop in public communications;
- How to inform complainants of the respondent’s death, and whether they should be made aware of the funeral;
- The role other priests of the diocese play in the funeral Mass.
- Give consideration to how the requiem Mass should be conducted:
- Discuss whether the location and timing of the funeral Mass would have a negative impact on the complainants;
- Carefully choose the readings;
- Ensure that the homily does not negatively affect the complainants;
- Balance the needs of the complainants with the deceased’s family members.
- How should interment be conducted?
- Consider which burial site is most appropriate;
- Address what an appropriate inscription on the headstone should be.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it should be used as a guide to help the Bishop deal as sensitively as possible with this situation.