(You’ll see I also posted asking reddit Catholics for their thoughts.)
My grandpa Paul is my dad’s stepfather. Paul has no other children. My grandmother, Paul’s wife for 40 years, was Jewish, as is the rest of my extended family, including my dad and me.
The only mourners at the funeral will be members of my family, all of whom are Jewish. If we include Catholic rites for grandpa Paul’s sake, the only Catholics present will be the Priest and the body. I never knew grandpa Paul to be particularly religious. Obviously this brings up some questions.
As Jews, what are our obligations in this scenario? What do we do when it falls to us to care for a member of another faith in death? Are there Jewish customs for this? We’re hardly the first interfaith family to have a funeral… right?
What about specific Catholic customs? Can a Jew host a wake in good conscience – I think Catholic rites require this, and I think it involves publicly viewing the body. What are the rules?
Are we just supposed to call a Catholic Priest and have them arrange things according to their tradition? If we have to sit politely through a mass out of respect for the dead, that will be bearable. But I also think that a service that features no prayer that we can participate in would be horrible for my dad. Having all the liturgy be from another religion would essentially deny my dad participation in any religious aspect of or comfort in the funeral service.
Finally, I’ll add that grandpa Paul did not have any particular relationship with a local Priest. If we get a Priest to officiate, I want to make sure it’s someone familiar with treating interfaith families with respect. I’m concerned that the low-level Priest who gets assigned to a random funeral may not know how to officiate without expressing offensive views about my Jewish family. I understand that Catholics believe some not-very-nice things about us – that’s unavoidable. But I don’t want my dad to hear offensive comments about Jews at a funeral he’s paying for!
Anyway, have you got any advice? Especially looking to hear from interfaith families who have some experience with this issue!