Last rites?

August 18, 2010
Zsa Zsa Gabor asks for last rites

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug 15 (Reuters Life!) – Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, a fixture in Hollywood for six decades, asked that a priest read her the last rites on Sunday, following hospitalization two days earlier due to complications from hip surgery.

PEOPLE-GABOR/You are a little out of date – there is no longer a sacrament of the ‘last rites.’

The sacrament is called Sacrament of the Sick. It’s sad to see an organization such as yours providing incorrect information.

M.S.

The term “last rites” is a generic term for a ritual that is known by different names in different Christian denominations. Some Protestant denominations administer last rites to the dying but do not consider this a sacrament.

Choosing one specific term could have indicated the denomination of the priest called to her bedside, which we did not know at the time we issued this story. So we opted for the more general term “last rites” as the most appropriate phrase to use. We did not refer to this in our reports as “the sacrament of the last rites” or as a sacrament at all.

We try not to use terms unfamiliar to most readers if the same act or idea can be expressed as well with a better-known description. Even after determining the denomination of the priest, we decided that “last rites” was still the term that would be most widely understood by readers of various Christian denominations and other religions: GBU Editor

Zsa Zsa Gabor in a 1990 file photo. REUTERS/Pool/Files

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