Requiem Masses for Non-Catholics
|The funeral for Queen Victoria at St. George's Chapel|
The official organ of the Society of Jesus, La Civilta Cattolica, devotes a long article to the question of celebrating requiem masses for non-Catholics, and especially for the late Queen Victoria. It is written in reply to recent letters in the London Times, and deals particularly with the following sentiment expressed in one of them: "We are touched at hearing that African chiefs have ordered tom-toms to be beaten or cattle sacrificed for the repose of the soul of the Great White Queen. What pleases the subjects of the queen is the expression of devotion by men of all races and religions. The Catholic church, through Cardinal Vaughan, has struck a discordant note." The source of all the evil is, according to the Civilta Cattolica, "that badly interpreted liberty, so contrary to religious virtue, which they call freedom of conscience, and which is, in reality, religious license. ... To this is due the absurd theory that all religions are worthy of respect as judicial equals, as though the rights of truth and error were, or could be, the same. The pretense of some Catholics that the church should mitigate her ancient severity toward dissidents is attributable to the same pernicious attitude." Continuing, the Jesuit organ says:
"Requiem masses are not simply civil and external honors ascribed to the defunct by survivors, but are religious acts and constitute the prayer which the Catholic church offers that its children may be received into the eternal peace of the just.
Therefore, to claim a right to this solemn prayer for whomsoever died separate from the community of the faithful, or even only to pretend that, for reasons of human policy or ill-comprehended patriotism, Catholics should be allowed the privilege of honoring with Catholic obsequies the king or queen who voluntarily and publicly lived and died Protestant, would be a profanation, a non-sense (controsenso), a placing upon the lips of the church words and formulae which in such case would be lying and fraudulent.
Since Protestants deny the Real Presence and all those dogmas which form the basis of Catholic liturgy, they can not reasonably be presumed ever to have desired the celebration in suffrage of their souls of that sacrifice (the mass) which they publicly and constantly stigmatize as a blasphemous fiction and a pernicious imposture.
As to the case of the late Queen Victoria, she is known to have been the head of the Protestant Anglican church and to have professed and to have been in duty bound to maintain its articles of religion."
Link (here) to Public Opinion