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Sally Neville wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Can a person who commits suicide have a Church service and a Catholic burial?

I was always taught that a suicide meant that the soul went to hell and the deceased could not be buried in a Catholic cemetery. I ask this because I know someone who killed himself and now want to inter the remains.

Please let me know what I should do.

Sally

  { Can a person who has committed suicide have a service in the Church and a Catholic burial? }

Eric replied:

Hi, Sally —

There is nothing in Church law prohibiting a person who has committed suicide from having a Catholic funeral and burial. It's possible a pastor may balk at it but it is not illicit.

People who commit suicide are not necessarily in Hell because often mental illness affects their judgment and mitigates the guilt.

Eric

Mary Ann replied:

Sally —

It used to be the case that a Christian burial was denied to a person who had committed suicide because it was considered an act of final despair.   Because of that horror, and the desire to teach Christians that final despair was damning, the Church refused a Christian burial.

We now know that suicide is often a sign of mental illness [and|or] a lack of full awareness and consent is involved, so the Church does grant a Christian burial.

If you talk to your local Catholic cemetery, you will get information, or you can speak to the pastor of the parish in which the person lived.

Mary Ann

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