Another bishop is trying to rein in funeral eulogies. Bishop Frederick Henry of Calgary has sent out a reminder that they aren’t permitted. I agree with the Church’s discipline on this. Most eulogies undermine the theological message of the Rite of Christian Burial which is to focus on the Resurrection. There is plenty of time for eulogies at the wake or the graveside. Of course, it doesn’t have the same drama as standing in the pulpit before a rapt and silent audience. And too often, despite best intentions, that’s what euologies become: a form of performance.
However, the people in the pews are understandably upset by what seems to be a double standard, because if you’re rich or famous, you get special treatment. At NBC reporter David Bloom’s funeral after he died in Iraq we saw several people get up and give eulogies, including Tom Brokaw. The rule especially seems prone to being ignored if TV cameras are present.
It’s not to say that Bloom wasn’t a nice guy or deserving of euologizing, but when rules are made for the faithful and then a second set seems to the privileged few on matters like eulogies or annulments or the like, then is it any wonder if people begin to lose faith in the Church as an institution?