Cremation and the Catholic Funeral

Many people have questions and concerns about the Catholic Church’s stance on cremation. This is understandable, because the church’s position has shifted over the years. Prior to 1963, the Catholic Church did not allow cremation at all, and even after 1963, the practice was not endorsed or encouraged. Where does the church stand today on cremation? It’s allowed, but with some stipulations:

  • First, and perhaps most important, cremated remains must be interred or entombed. They cannot be scattered, and they must not be divided. This means no keepsake jewelry for family members or placing remains in different locations significant to the person who has died.
  • When a person is cremated, the remains must not be kept at home. This rules out keeping them in an urn on the mantel. Rather, they are to be kept in a sacred space, preferably on the blessed grounds of a Catholic cemetery.
  • Full Catholic funeral rites are available for those who choose cremation. It is preferred, however, that the cremation be performed after the funeral liturgy, so that the service can take place when the body is present and intact.

Why are these rules so stringent? It has to do with the Catholic faith and beliefs regarding the resurrection. Because Jesus’s resurrection indicated that there is an eternal future for both body and soul, Catholics believe in treating the body as sacred. In addition, because our bodies represent our identities as people, Catholics believe in giving a body care and reverence out of a concern for the person now being commended to the care of God. Cremation, therefore, is permitted as long as it’s not chosen because the person is denying Christian teaching on the Resurrection or dismissing the sacred nature of the human body.

If you’d like to learn more about cremation and having a Catholic funeral, or you’re ready to pre-plan, we can help. Call us today at (888) 582-6882 for answers to your questions, stop by to meet us and see what we have to offer, or visit our website for more information.

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