St. Joseph Parish
Instruction Regarding the Burial of the Deceased and the Conservation of the Ashes in the Case of Cr
This instruction, being distributed by the Vatican, discusses the proper disposition of the body after cremation. It’s only a 2 page document and well worth your time if you are considering cremation or a family member is considering this option. The following is a very brief synopsis of the major points:
“The Church continues to prefer the practice of burying the bodies of the deceased, because this shows a greater esteem towards the deceased.”“…the Church, after the celebration of the funeral rite, accompanies the choice of cremation…”“…the ashes of the faithful must be laid to rest in a sacred place, that is, in a cemetery or, in certain cases, in a church or an area, which has been set aside for this purpose…”“The reservation of the ashes of the departed in a sacred place ensures that they are not excluded from the prayers and remembrance of their family or the Christian community. It prevents the faithful departed from being forgotten…”“…the conservation of the ashes of the departed in a domestic residence is not permitted.”“…the ashes may not be divided among various family members and due respect must be maintained regarding the circumstances of such a conservation.”“In order that every appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism be avoided, it is not permitted to scatter the ashes of the faithful departed in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewelry or other objects.”And finally, “When the deceased notoriously has requested cremation and the scattering of their ashes for reasons contrary to the Christian faith, a Christian funeral must be denied to that person according to the norms of the law.”
It seems that the most egregious actions are the scattering of ashes and the division of ashes between family members. As the instruction points out, these are not permitted and could result in the person not receiving a Christian funeral if their intentions were known.