Secret Memo Causing Controversy Over Guidelines For Determining Public Ceremony
The phrase “secret memo released” rarely leads to happy information being released. An email sent from the Vicar General of the Diocese of Madison, WI Rev. Msgr. James R. Bartylla to priests in his diocese is being called hateful. His message was a system of guidelines for how to handle any funeral services for LGBT Catholics.
The system seems to focus on the potential of scandal. The word is mentioned six times in the memo. The memo writes about the potential for “confusion” by having funeral rites for gay members.
So what are the guidelines? Funerals should be avoided if a person was in a “notorious homosexual relationship.” Or if one the person deceased or their partner is a promoter of the “gay lifestyle.” Not only should funerals be denied but no reference should be given in “any liturgical booklet, prayer card, homily, sermon, talk by the priest, deacon.”
This is not the first time this has occurred. In June, the bishop of Springfield, Illinois declared the same for his priests as well.
Criticism has been outspoken about the revealing of this memo. The first is that it denies the shifting nature of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis has called out for love for LGBT community and embracing. In addition, 67% of Catholics support same-sex marriage. The second is that it will cause members to leave the church. Francis DeBernando, executive director of the homosexual Catholic group, New Ways Ministry stated will harm families that are grieving.
A spokesperson for James Bartylla said, “it is not an official diocesan policy.” The Catholic church has not made any other official statement about it, nor have the priests said whether they will follow the guidelines.