Catholic Cremation

I am Catholic, can I be cremated?

Yes. In 1963, the Catholic Church lifted its prohibition forbidding Catholics to choose cremation. Canon 1176 of the 1983 Code of 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."

When should cremation take place?

The Church prefers that cremation take place after the full Funeral Liturgy wherein the body is present. "This is the body once washed in baptism, anointed with the oil of salvation, and fed with the bread of life." The Church's belief in the sacredness of life and the resurrection of the dead encourages us to celebrate the funeral liturgy with the body present while affirming the value of human life. As Catholics, we celebrate our funeral liturgies because they recall Christ's victory over death. With His victory, comes our promise of eternal life.

If it is not possible for the body to be present at the Funeral Mass, the Catholic Church has granted permission for the celebration of the Funeral Mass with the cremated remains of the body present in church. Since it is the "earthly remains" and not the body of the deceased that is present, there are slight adaptations in the liturgy.

How are the cremated remains of the body laid to rest?

The cremated remains of the body should be buried or entombed. Scattering the cremated remains of the body, keeping them at home, or dividing them among various family members is not the reverent disposition the Church requires. Our Catholic Cemeteries have grave space or niches for cremated remains of the body. This allows for visitation, memorialization and prayers.

What Catholic rites are available for those choosing cremation?

The Order of Christian Funerals presents the Church's plan for the celebration of the death of one of the faithful. These rites assume the presence of the body, but adaptations are available for those choosing cremation.

Contact a parish or priest to prepare for the Order of Christian Funerals.

The Order of Christian Funerals consists of three parts:

  1. Vigil and related Rites and Prayers,
  2. The Funeral Liturgy, and
  3. The Rite of Committal

The "Rite of Committal" is our farewell to our beloved brother or sister in Christ. At this time we turn over the care of our loved one to the cemetery staff, as we await the resurrection of the dead along with the communion of saints.