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Cigarettes and cans of beer not appropriate memorabilia at funeral Masses, priest tells churchgoers

Cigarettes and cans of beer are not appropriate memorabilia at funeral Masses, a priest from Cork has told churchgoers.

Father Tomas Walsh, of Gurranabraher parish on the northside of Cork, who has previously spoken out about Godless Godparents, said that funeral Masses are the latest Catholic tradition being tarnished by modern churchgoers.

Writing in the weekly Gurranabraher newsletter, Fr Walsh said inappropriate items are being brought up to the altar at funeral Masses.

“Bringing things such as a can of beer, a packet of cigarettes, a remote control, a mobile phone, or a football jersey does not tell us anything uplifting about the person who has died,” Fr Walsh wrote.

“Surely items such as a flower, a family photograph, a prayer-book or rosary reveals far more about the person who has died — and the loss he/she is to the family who grieve.”

He also critised lengthy eulogies that go on “for as long as the Mass itself, (and sometimes longer)”.

“A Requiem Mass is essentially the coming together of the family along with the believing community to pray for the person who has died.

“At the hour of death — as we begin the journey home to God and to judgement — we desperately need God’s mercy and forgiveness, no matter how edifying the life of the person may seem.”

Emphasising the importance of praying to the faithful, Fr Walsh said: “In the final hours of Pope John Paul II’s life on earth, in 2005, he was told of the immense multitude who were gathering outside in St Peter’s Square. In a barely audible voice, he begged that the gathering throngs of people would pray for him. That is the greatest gift we can give our dead — prayer.”

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