Last night, my husband and I had tickets to see a one-woman performance re-enacting Edith Piaf's life. We really enjoyed it, me especially, since I am a sucker for melodramatic lounge music.
One interesting fact about Piaf's life, which came to light as part of the performance, was that she was denied a Catholic funeral. This triggered a memory that the French author, Colette, was also denied a Catholic funeral. The stated basis for these two decisions was, in summary, that both these artists had led sinful, scandalous lives.
This got me thinking about whether or not, in more modern times (post-Vatican II), if Catholic funerals are ever still denied? Note that Colette died in the 1950's and Piaf in the early 1960's.
My husband and I were talking about this and we both came to the conclusion that such a decision is the ultimate in hope-less-ness. Also the ultimate in judgementalism. We couldn't fathom, no matter how strict a take one might have on public sin, as to why such extreme measures would be necessary for baptised Catholics? It's a truth of the faith that God knows everything and is the ultimate judge, is it not? So what harm would there be in having a funeral for an open sinner, since God's in control anyway?
Besides, at the time of Colette and Piaf- and taking into account more traditionalist France - their Catholic funerals would likely have been the all-black, somber affairs that marked pre-Vatican II times. Thus, their funerals probably wouldn't have painted a picture of assured salvation for either woman.
Perhaps some reading this blog post know personal stories of denied funerals of older relatives? If so, I'd be interested in hearing them.