Archbishop Curbs

Funeral Mass Eulogies A U.S. archbishop has banned eulogies during funeral Masses, saying personal tributes were getting too long and often did not address the spiritual life of the deceased.

In a decree to local priests, Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark said last week that there was growing abuse of eulogies by friends and family members and that the tributes should be delivered before or after Mass or at the graveside or the funeral home.

A spokesman for the archdiocese, which includes about 1.5 million Catholics, said that the tributes were a distraction from the scriptural message of the Mass and that eulogies traditionally were not part of Catholic funeral rites.

Some eulogies had gone on for more than an hour, the spokesman said.

The decree has angered parishioners who believe that family members and friends should be able to say something personal at a funeral Mass.

Mary Jo Dervos of Glen Rock, N.J., said her family was prohibited from speaking at her grandmother's funeral Mass. "We felt it really wasn't asking a lot for family members to speak," she told a local newspaper. "My grandmother was so devoted to the church."

The Rev. John Langan, professor of ethics at Georgetown University, acknowledged a family's desire to speak but also the priest's concern about things "getting out of hand."

"I don't know that there's any simple recipe for doing this," he said. "A lot depends on the local pastor having the right touch in working this out."

-- Reuters

Faith-Based Ecology An alliance of 12 religious organizations in Maine has rolled out two options for those willing to pay more for energy from renewable sources.

"We don't need to build complicated, and some would say dangerous, nuclear power plants or rely on foreign oil for our energy," said Erika Morgan, a board member and technical adviser for Maine Interfaith Power & Light. "We have all we need. This is a homegrown alternative to the oil addiction we have."

Maine's electricity marketplace, deregulated since March 2000, allows power generators to sell directly to customers. So far, however, the only seller of "green" power discontinued the venture, which charged about 20 percent more for power, after one year because only about 100 customers came forward.

The faith-based utility is banking on people being more comfortable with electricity shopping and more receptive to its options -- despite having to pay up to 25 percent more.

Options include buying power from Maine's wood-burning and hydroelectric plants or from wind and solar generators in the Pacific Northwest.

More than 1,300 customers, including 90 churches, have expressed a willingness to pay more for green power from Maine Interfaith.

-- Religion News Service

Standards for Pastors Concerned that denominations and churches aren't holding pastors to high enough moral standards, Focus on the Family is courting 50,000 ministers to adopt a "Shepherd's Covenant" for greater accountability.

"Everywhere we look, we see [pastors with] marriage problems, infidelity, pornography," said H.B. London, vice president of ministry outreach and pastoral ministry for the Colorado Springs-based organization. "This is about building a hedge of protection around your ministry and your family."

Holding pastors accountable to ordination vows traditionally has been the domain of churches or denominations that ordain clergy.

But because the Gallup Poll shows clergy approval at an all-time low, London said the need for fresh accountability standards seems clear.

Pastors who sign the five-point covenant and wear the shepherd's crook lapel pin -- to symbolize their pledge -- would promise, among other things, to maintain good relationships, be vigilant and have a "shepherd's heart" and an "intimate" relationship with God.

Since Focus on the Family announced its program by e-mail this month, about 1,500 pastors have expressed interest. To enroll 50,000 participants, Focus on the Family is prepared to spend $84,000 on program administration, London said.

-- Religion News Service