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  1. #1
    Sniffles
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    Default Church Bars Flags on Vets' Coffins

    NY Church Bars Flags on Vets' Coffins

    August 06, 2009

    STILLWATER, New York -- It was an unusually cold day in March 2007 when Florence Moll laid her husband to rest.

    George Moll had died unexpectedly in his bed at age 75 after a life of service.

    He served aboard the USS Allagash during the Korean War, worked 31 years for railroads and volunteered at veterans groups in Stillwater and Mechanicville for decades.

    A dedicated parishioner of St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, he lit a candle for an ill relative the evening before he died.

    But his funeral service at St. Peter's -- his lifelong church -- upset his widow and family. Priests at the parish formerly allowed American flags to drape coffins in the entryway of the church before replacing them with cloth coverings known as palls. However, the new parish administrator at the time, the Rev. James Kane, strictly enforced a Catholic church rule that all non-Christian symbols, including flags, not rest on or near coffins in churches.

    The veteran's casket left the church without an American flag around it, Florence Moll said. "They had to put the flag on in the freezing cold near the hearse," she said. "I thought it was a problem, and I was really disgusted."

    The "church vs. American flag" issue, as one observer put it, has re-emerged two years later in neighboring Mechanicville, where Kane recently was assigned to The Church of St. Peter the Apostle and Assumption/St. Paul.

    The city, about 5 miles from Saratoga National Cemetery in Stillwater, has a large population of veterans who are Catholic. Residents say coffins with American flags were permitted to enter and depart the church's vestibule in the past, and the change is emblematic of Kane's inflexible style of leadership.

    "The flag is the symbol of the freedom we fight for," said Mary Lou Anatriello, a lifelong church member who buried her parents at St. Paul's. "This type of demand is hurtful."

    In a short phone interview, Kane said he was simply following policy set by the Roman Catholic Church and Albany diocese. "I wish you God's peace," he said before hanging up.

    Catholic funerals throughout the world follow a universal order, said Ken Goldfarb, spokesman for the Albany Catholic Diocese: "Only Christian symbols may rest on or be placed near the coffin during the funeral liturgy. Any other symbols, for example, national flags or flags or insignias of associations, have no place in the funeral liturgy."
    NY Church Bars Flags on Vets' Coffins

  2. #2
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Any comments on why this is an issue?
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

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  3. #3
    Sniffles
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    Any comments on why this is an issue?
    I suspect it's because some people have a mistaken concept of patriotism, and its relationship to the Christian faith(Catholicism in particular). Patriotism is indeed a Christian virtue, but idolatry of ones country isn't.

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    I suspect it's because some people have a mistaken concept of patriotism, and its relationship to the Christian faith(Catholicism in particular). Patriotism is indeed a Christian virtue, but idolatry of ones country isn't.
    Okay. I just wasn't sure what angle you were taking, based just on the article.

    As far as I believe in God, to me He belongs to humanity, not to the USA. I can understand the grief of someone who had a loved one die defending a country and being upset the flag was not shown at the funeral; but I think it more important to create a spirit of God within the Church that truly encompasses the world rather than endorsing a particular nation and/or its policies.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  5. #5
    Sniffles
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    As far as I believe in God, to me He belongs to humanity, not to the USA. I can understand the grief of someone who had a loved one die defending a country and being upset the flag was not shown at the funeral; but I think it more important to create a spirit of God within the Church that truly encompasses the world rather than endorsing a particular nation and/or its policies.
    Yes that's very much true. I often made similar arguments after 9/11 concerning my misgivings over the way that God's name was misused to serve supposed "patriotic" ends. There is a difference between geniune patriotism and idolatry.

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    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    I suspect it's because some people have a mistaken concept of patriotism, and its relationship to the Christian faith(Catholicism in particular). Patriotism is indeed a Christian virtue, but idolatry of ones country isn't.
    Do you really think its idolatrous for a military veteran to wish to be buried with an American flag draping his coffin? And even if it is (I have no problem if a religion decides this is so), why not allow mourners to take off/put back on a flag inside the church, where it isn't cold? That part kind of reminds me of that part of the Bible where Jesus is condemned for healing on the sabbath...

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    Nerd King Usurper Edgar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowtech redneck View Post
    Do you really think its idolatrous for a military veteran to wish to be buried with an American flag draping his coffin? And even if it is (I have no problem if a religion decides this is so), why not allow mourners to take off/put back on a flag inside the church, where it isn't cold? That part kind of reminds me of that part of the Bible where Jesus is condemned for healing on the sabbath...
    As far as I am concerned, the controversy is between the church and their perishioners.

    Govt should stay out of churches' business and vice versa. First Amendment, etc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowtech redneck View Post
    Do you really think its idolatrous for a military veteran to wish to be buried with an American flag draping his coffin? And even if it is (I have no problem if a religion decides this is so), why not allow mourners to take off/put back on a flag inside the church, where it isn't cold? That part kind of reminds me of that part of the Bible where Jesus is condemned for healing on the sabbath...
    It's kind of a hard topic and I'm not even sure how to discuss it because my goal isn't to be offensive and I know that my experience is not everyone's.

    For me, it sort of makes my skin crawl though because I spent much of my life in a conservative church setting where God was always assumed to be behind any Republican-president war effort. "God, Guns, and Country" is also the predominate feeling around here in central PA. All three are assumed to be the same -- God is Republican and Christian and pro-military. It was really hard to be in prayer circles with people because if you did not take a particular list of stances on issues, you were viewed as unpatriotic and unChristian and (at best) confused... and meanwhile if you opened your mouth, it caused all sorts of trouble. It's hard to be accepted as Christian if you are a Democrat; same goes if you're a pacifist; and you are actually deemed as unpatriotic.

    The point is that the Church should be big enough to not be commandeered by one political mindset, but this has happened a lot at least in the conservative end of things.

    This might not be particularly why the Catholic church issued this policy, but it's sort of tied to the thinking behind it. God is bigger than one country's political conveniences and stances.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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    Emperor/Dictator kyuuei's Avatar
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    I don't think it should be so strict that it overlooks common sense. The common sense is the flag will be draped. I don't think it's disrespectful to change flags, be it 1 foot inside of a building, or 1 foot outside of it.
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    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edgar View Post
    As far as I am concerned, the controversy is between the church and their perishioners.

    Govt should stay out of churches' business and vice versa. First Amendment, etc.
    I wasn't suggesting otherwise.

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