Current Catholic Church position on burial of victims of suicide?

At one time it was pretty strict, but I’m guessing those old rules have been relaxed. Can Catholics who have committed suicide have a funeral Mass/service in the church building and be buried in a Catholic cemetery?

In high school I dug graves and buried caskets at a Catholic cemetery (everyone with their feet pointed east, so they’ll all get up into the rising sun on Judgment Day). A friend of mine, depressed at living at home with his parents a year after graduation, killed himself by carbon monoxide in the garage. He was given a Catholic funeral service and I buried him in sacred ground. This was 1977.

Because suicide is now recognized as an extreme result of depression, it is no longer a bar to a Catholic funeral. There has always been some recognition of diminished capacity, to which an exception to the bar could be allowed.

Unless you spefically commited suicide to prove your lack of faith on Jesus ("Take my soul Baal!!!) or did it to cause scandal, then, as others said, there is no problem.

That was a local peculiarity, I’ve been to cementeries in several countries where Catholic is the default and the graves and niches are oriented whichever way makes best use of the space. My family points one way and the cousins on the other side of the same wall and three graves down point the opposite; there’s four possible orientations plus cremated (some people will bury the urn, if they already had a niche or grave and the deceased preferred cremation but hadn’t said where to spread the ashes).

I’ve been to a cemetery for an order of nuns where the graves are arranged in circles – 3 rings of graves around a tree or memorial or some other focal point. When one circle was filled, they started a new one.

So, apparently grave orientation really isn’t too big a deal.

Catholic are not technically allowed to scatter the ashes, so burying them at a cemetery or mausoleum is quite common.

I only now thought about it and my family plot is oriented with feet to the east, while the graveyard itself seems to have most graves laid out that way or the opposite, and very few, perhaps none, directed north or south.

If I remember correctly, there was a time in the R C C that didn’t allow cremation, I think it was because they expected the body to resurrect.

I remember this too, growing up in the R C C in Upstate NY in the 1960s and 70s.

Or more precisely, the Catholic Church opposed cremation because cremation was the practice of people who denied the resurrection. Burying corpses is a matter of respecting the body, not saving it.

The Specific Article from the current Catechism of the Catholic Church:

(bolding mine) So it’s still generally “wrong” but case by case specifics affect how the Church treats each incident. And then it goes on to say:

Right – it involved countering not only “pagan” practices but also heresies that argued the eternal life would not involve a resurrected body or that the human was not both body AND soul. Plus maybe a degree of carryover from traditional Judaic practice, wherein you were to return the body to the Earth, not destroy it?


(“Can be meritorious” IIRC = it may earn you some Purgatory credit :wink: )

On the other hand, it creates more work for Aquinas’s angels who have to go around reassembling you later. :slight_smile:

They were going to have to do that anyway, what with all the “reduce, reuse, recycle” going on…