Why Vito Rizzuto Got a Full Catholic Funeral

The funeral procession of Vito Rizzuto departs from the church.
The National Post raises an interesting question Why did Vito Rizzuto get a full Catholic funeral in Montreal, when some bishops in Sicily are refusing mafiosi?

And, we might add, while a large church held a well-attended funeral for Vito, in the U.S., Mafia members and associates -- if widely known by the public as such -- typically have their membership card revoked by the Catholic Church. John Gotti was denied a proper funeral, as was his predecessor, Paul Castellano.

Here's Adrian Humphrey's answer:

As news cameras jostled to capture the solemn grandeur of Vito Rizzuto’s funeral last week, a church bell’s slow toll accompanied the gold-coloured casket of Canada’s most powerful Mafia boss down the front steps of Montreal’s landmark Notre Dame de la Défense, a Catholic Church that has hosted more funerals for notorious mobsters than any other in North America.

The magnificent outline of the historic church in the city’s Little Italy neighbourhood was a comforting façade for a family in grief but leaves questions of what the pageantry says about the Catholic Church’s stand against organized crime and the message it sends to a watching community.

“Personally, I think mafiosi should not be granted the sacraments and, on the occasion of their funerals, should be restricted solely to the blessing of the coffin, with no homilies,” said Nicola Gratteri, Italy’s best-known anti-mob prosecutor and a world authority on the Mafia.

“The risk is to legitimize the strength and power of mafiosi within the territory. The funeral pomp ensures maximum visibility and legitimacy. They should be avoided. The Mafia often communicates with a non-verbal language… Funerals and weddings have always been functional to power,” Mr. Gratteri told the National Post.

In Sicily, the birthplace of Mr. Rizzuto’s Mafia, some Church leaders have called for a tough stand. This summer, Bishop Antonino Raspanti said convicted mobsters would be refused a funeral, declaring: “Being a Christian is incompatible with having links to Mafia organizations.”

In Montreal, the line is not as clear.

Monsignor Igino Incantalupo, who conducted the service for Mr. Rizzuto and a similar funeral in 2010 for Mr. Rizzuto’s father, Nicolo, also a Mafia boss when he was shot dead, defended his stance.

“He was a Christian and he had the right to have a funeral in the church. Now, I know that everyone is not in agreement with that but the church cannot refuse a baptized person. We don’t have to judge so that is why we make the funeral of that guy and to make the funeral of his father two years ago and of his son more years ago,” he said.

Asked if he considered refusing a mass for a man with notoriety, Msgr. Incantalupo said: “It’s not my problem. I don’t have to judge anybody. I don’t know even if before he died if he didn’t ask [for] confession. I don’t know. I don’t judge.

“The family asked for a service and we did it. The church doesn’t refuse anybody.”


  1. Are Catholic priests denied a church recognized funeral and sacraments if they were convicted or suspected pedophiles? As a Catholic myself I find the hypocrisy comical that the church can pick and choose who they grant a proper sendoff and in many cases these so-called righteous holy men have no problem accepting money and donations from these mafia men.


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