Cincinnati archbishop's funeral to take place in empty cathedral

shutterstock 1153720645 Saint Peter in Chains Cathedral on W 8th Street in Cincinnati, Ohio. | Nagel photography/Shutterstock

The funeral of the former head of the United States bishops' conference and archbishop emeritus of Cincinnati will take place behind closed doors. A Mass of Christian burial will be said for Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk in Cincinnati's Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains on Friday.

The funeral arrangements were announced by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati on Wednesday, and the Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Dennis Schnurr on March 27 at 11 am.

"Due to the current pandemic, the Mass will be private," a statement from the archdiocese said. "However the clergy and faithful of the archdiocese are encouraged to join in prayer for Archbishop Pilarczyk by joining in the Mass that will be live-streamed to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati website. A memorial Mass open to the clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese will be held at a later date."

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati told CNA on Wednesday that the burial would take place privately and the archbishop would not be interred at the cathedral.

Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory said on Monday that he was deeply disappointed that the current pandemic conditions prevented him from attending the Mass.

"If this were an ordinary moment, I would plan to attend Archbishop Pilarczyk's funeral in Cincinnati," Gregory said via Twitter.

"He was a dear friend & mentor for me. His wit and wisdom were legendary and will be missed. Alas his funeral liturgy will be private. I pray the Lord reward him with peace."

Pilarczyk died on Sunday at the age of 85. Ordained a priest in 1959, Pilarczyk was consecrated auxiliary bishop of Cincinnati in 1974, serving also as the vicar general for the archdiocese.

In 1982, he became the archbishop of Cincinnati, succeeding Joseph Bernardin, who was appointed Archbishop of Chicago. At the time of his retirement in 2009, Pilarczyk was then the longest-tenured archbishop in the U.S., having served for 27 years.

During that time, he also served as vice president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, now the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, from 1986 until 1989. That was followed by a three-year term as president of the conference until 1992, as the U.S. prepared to host its first World Youth Day in Denver in the summer of 1993.

While archbishop, Pilarczyk was also rector of Mount St. Mary's Seminary and School of Theology, also called the Athenaeum of Ohio.

On Sunday, Archbishop Schnurr said that Pilarczyk would be remembered as a "teacher."

"Some seminarians told me they thought he was stern, but I explained he never forgot to be the teacher, always in control, tolerating no nonsense and always ready to correct," Schnurr said.

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