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Guidance for non-Eucharistic funeral services in churches

As part of the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, it has been announced that non-Eucharistic funeral services can now take place in churches.

The guidelines developed by the Bishops' Conference support the safe and dignified conduct of these non-Eucharistic funeral services in church. It is for the priest and family to discern whether this is the best option in particular circumstances.

The number of people gathered should be minimised. The next-of-kin has an important role in determining who is to attend the funeral: members of the person's household, close family members, or, if the above are unable to attend, close friends. Other discussions of the Places of Worship Taskforce indicate a maximum of 15 people including the priest or deacon and stewards.

Other points to consider:

  • the mortal remains of the person should not rest overnight in the church;
  • no objects should be placed on the coffin;
  • no singing is permitted;
  • the use of a single use service sheet which is taken away;
  • the cleaning of the church;
  • people who are not able to attend the service may wish to line the street in a socially distanced way.

The undertakers may assist, if willing, with limiting the numbers entering the church, or this may be the role of local stewards. Some people may find these restrictions too limited and wish simply to gather for a burial or cremation.