Unholy row erupts over Shane MacGowan funeral…

Some clergy were not very impressed with the scenes at the funeral of Shane MacGowan last week.

Speaking to the Mirror, West Belfast Priest Father Paddy McCafferty had this to say:

“The introduction of all these elements into that funeral mass frankly was a scandal and it shouldn’t have happened,” Father Paddy McCafferty of West Belfast had told Belfast Live. “If they wanted to have that sort of event they could have hired a hall somewhere and did all that.” The disgruntled priest argued that Shane was a “good man in his way” and was therefore “entitled to a funeral mass as every baptised Catholic is,” but that “there is no place” for songs like Fairytale of New York in the Eucharistic service.

“It was an abuse of the liturgy and it showed a completely askew understanding of what we actually are doing when we celebrate a funeral mass,” he continued. Fairytale of New York, which skyrocketed The Pogues to global stardom after its 1998 release, was sung by Lisa O’Neill and Glen Hansard in a touching tribute to the late musician. Shane’s family were seen dancing to the festive tune, which was notably missing its controversial ‘F’ word lyric after it was accused of being homophobic.

Fr McCafferty took particular issue with the performance, adding, “The words that are used in that song and in the church showed no understanding of the sacredness of what the place is and the holiness of the mass.” He also slammed it as “completely inappropriate to say the least, to the point of scandal.”

“Something needs to be done about these so-called celebrity funerals in a Catholic church. If people don’t want that then go somewhere else. I watched maybe a couple of minutes and thought my goodness, I couldn’t watch any more of that,” Fr McCafferty added. “We’re not there to entertain, we’re there to celebrate the worship of God and lead people in the worship of God. I wouldn’t allow that in my church.”

My view is that there seems to be double standards. A few years ago, when a friend of the family died, the priest would not allow the singer to perform his favourite song, ‘You’ll never walk alone’, Catholic hymns only we were told. Worse was that we had written a great obituary for him, but we were told only the priest was allowed to read it. The problem was the priest was from India, and he had a really strong accent, so people had great difficulty understanding him.

But I do understand why the catholic church has these rules. While I think songs like ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ are tasteful, others will want all kinds of crazy tunes. Likewise, if you let some grieving family members loose on the mic, it could all go south pretty quickly.

Where it will get interesting is there are fewer priests around these days, and they are dying out pretty rapidly. Already, many priests do not perform traditional things like prayers at the house and graveside. Most Catholics these days never darken the doors of their church at all but they still want them to be there for the key events of births, marriages and funerals.

As traditional church funerals die out more people will decide to just do their own thing. And to be honest, more personal funerals might be a welcome change.


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