Ron Rust with William R. Rust Funeral Home has filed suit against the Archdiocese of Louisville and the Rev. Jeffrey Leger, pastor of St. Catherine of Alexandria Church, seeking an injunction against certain aspects of a funeral policy Leger wrote for St. Catherine.
Rust Funeral Home and St. Catherine Church are in New Haven, and Rust often conducts funerals at the church for St. Catherine parishioners. He believes that unless an injunction is issued to keep Leger from enforcing the policy against his business, he will lose funerals and related income.
At issue are restrictions that Rust claims Leger placed on the funeral Mass concerning Biblical readings, who can provide music, which songs can be played or sang, the presentation of tributes and eulogies, who can act as pastor and deacon, which church can be used and who qualifies to receive Catholic funeral rites. Rust also claims that Leger has placed restrictions on when and where funeral services can be conducted, and that Leger requires all funeral Masses to be planned by him instead of the funeral director.
The lawsuit states that Leger put the policies into effect without approval of the Archdiocese of Louisville. The Archdiocese is included in the lawsuit, however, because Rust claims that concerns expressed about Leger’s funeral policy were ignored, implying approval of the policy.
Rust referred questions about the lawsuit to his attorney, Larry Raikes with Fulton, Hubbard & Hubbard. Raikes declined to comment beyond what he set forth in the lawsuit, which includes:
• Rust’s rights will be violated by Leger’s enforcement of the policy and Rust will suffer immediate and irreparable loss and damage pending a final judgment in the matter.
• A temporary and/or permanent injunction would not harm the public, but would maintain the status quo.
• Rust has the right to direct funerals according to the wishes of the deceased’s family without the constraints of Leger’s policy.
• No harm would befall Leger or the Archdiocese of Louisville if an injunction is issued.
• Rust is entitled to compensatory damages for lost income, foreseeable emotional distress or harm to his reputation, plus punitive damages.
Leger said it is common for individual Catholic churches to have funeral policies in place. He declined further comment, saying since he cannot be sued individually as an agent of the church, the Archdiocese would have to answer any questions.
Cecilia Price, Archdiocese of Louisville chief communications officer, said the Archdiocese does not comment on pending litigation, and that St. Catherine’s policies are consistent with Catholic liturgical directives.