MANILA –A retired Catholic prelate said that the Church will respect the request of people whether or not they want their corpses to be blessed in the church.
“Freedom of religion is a human right. That is not an argument against him. That is his prerogative, right and therefore that must be respected. Hopefully those who will be left behind will respect that because that would be his last wish so to speak,” said Lingayen-Dagupan Emeritus Archbishop Oscar Cruz.
He added, “For the Church the last will of the person has to be respected.”
The former Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president is reacting on the statement of President Rodrigo Duterte that he wants to be buried without the rituals of members of the clergy when he dies.
“The conclusion is that with that option he becomes non-Catholic. Meaning to say its a choice naman to become Catholic or non-Catholic. A non-Catholic means either to become a Protestant or a Muslim or any other religious denomination. But when you make that statement that means that really in effect you have renounced your Catholic faith. That you don’t believe anymore in blessing of the dead etc., etc.,” he said.
Cruz added, “So the conclusion is quite elementary that you have renounced that you have rejected your faith as a Catholic. In short he is a non-Catholic…it would be ridiculous to conclude that he is still a Catholic with such pronouncement. But I repeat that is everybody’s option to embrace the religion he or she thinks is right.”
He noted that the Church will not forced the people for them to be blessed by the priest once they die.
“No. Freedom of religion is a basic human right,” Cruz added.
Asked if it is automatic that a person will be considered non-Catholic if he/she does not want such blessing.
“Whether automatic or not I cannot answer, I’m just saying that it is somehow ridiculous that somebody says that after my death I don’t want blessing so its ridiculous to conclude that the person is Catholic…” Cruz explained.
The former CBCP head noted the importance of the requiem Mass and final blessing.
“Mass is of course the most sublime prayer there is because it is a reception of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and consequently even the blessing of the holy water is also a sanctifying element. Now everybody is free to believe that or not,” Cruz said.
“Those who believe it well and good those who don’t that is their own choice but you cannot blame anybody for not wantng to be buried in a catholic church, not wanting to have a catholic mass or blessing…it is their call especially if they are adults so the church has to respect that because there is fredom of religion,” he added.