FAQs About Cremation for Catholics

If you are Catholic and are planning your funeral in San Jose, you may be curious about the Church’s rules about cremation. The rules have changed a good deal over the years, so you may want to take the time to learn about the status of cremation in the Church as you are planning your funeral. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding cremation and its status in the Catholic faith. urn - cremation

What is cremation? Cremation is not a ceremony or a means of interment. It is the reduction of a body to ashes and bone fragments, using fire. Following cremation, the remains of the deceased may be placed at a permanent resting place.

Who makes the decision to have a body cremated? If a person arranges his or her own funeral, then he or she may make the choice to be cremated after death. If the person left no funeral wishes behind and had no known preference, the decision is made by the person’s legal next of kin.

Is cremation permitted by Catholic doctrine? Cremation was prohibited by the Catholic Church for a long time. In 1963, the prohibition was lifted. While the Church favors traditional burial, cremation is now permitted as long as the option has not been “chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching.”

Does the funeral take place before or after cremation? If possible, the Church recommends that the funeral and liturgy be held first. If this is not possible because of “extraordinary circumstances,” the cremated remains may be present at the funeral instead of the body.

Does the Church allow scattering of the remains? Scattering cremated remains, or keeping them in a private residence, is contrary to Church teachings. Rather, the Church teaches that a special resting place should be found for the cremated remains, just as a burial site is necessary for a body. A niche in a columbarium is a recommended option for disposal of the remains.

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