Cremation: Understanding the Church’s Stance
Cremation can often be a confusing topic for Catholics. Many remember a time when the Church forbade cremation. This is no longer the case. In 1963, the Catholic Church began to allow Catholics to choose cremation as a burial option.
As Catholics, we believe in the dignity of all creation. We should treat one another and ourselves with respect. In Scripture, we are told to respect our bodies, so also we should respect them in death. Cremation was traditionally perceived by the Church as not showing proper respect to the body and therefore against Catholic teaching. This is no longer the case, though Canon Law states “The Church earnestly recommends the pious custom of burying the bodies of the dead be observed, it does not however, forbid cremation unless it has been chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching.”
Cremation has been growing in popularity over these past few decades. We at Our Lady of the Rosary Cemetery have even begun to see priests and deacons choose cremation for themselves.
If one chooses to be cremated, they still have a right to receive a Christian Burial. The cremated remains of the body, sometimes referred to as cremains, should still be treated with respect, always calling to mind the sacredness of the body. The cremains should be properly buried or entombed. Cremains should not be scattered, or divided up among family members, as these are not considered by the Church to be forms of reverent disposition.
Cremated remains of the human body may be waked at home for a time. They should be placed in a reverent place and treated with honor and respect. This is not an appropriate final resting place though and all care and speed should be taken to have the cremains properly buried or entombed, preferable in a Catholic cemetery.
For more information on cremation burial options please see our Services page.
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