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CATHOLIC BISHOPS WANT CHURCH TO ALLOW CREMATED REMAINS AT FUNERAL MASS.

Byline: Associated Press

No one is saying they should scatter the ashes of deceased family members into the ocean. And Catholics still should forget about keeping the remains in a jar on a fireplace mantle.

But a committee of Catholic bishops says families should no longer have to leave the cremated remains of a loved one outside in the hearse during a funeral Mass.

In an action that addresses one of the most profound mysteries of the Christian faith - how human beings receive eternal life after death - the bishops' Committee on the Liturgy is urging the church to appeal to the Vatican to lift the ban on bringing the ashes of the deceased into church.

Christianity distinguished itself from pagan Roman culture in its earliest days by its practice of burying rather than cremating the dead. Now, as a result of changes in American culture, the bishops are asking the church to reconsider its insistence on the presence of the body at funeral Masses.

Even the discussion reflects an evolving attitude among many people in the pews who no longer assume an intact body is the best preparation for resurrection.

``If the Lord can resurrect a body, he can certainly get all the parts back together again,'' said Monsignor Alan Detscher, director of the Secretariat for the Liturgy.

The committee's proposal will be presented to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops at its spring meeting June 20-22 in Portland, Ore.

Cremation was forbidden in the Catholic Church until 1963, when allowances were made for the practice in cases of necessity as long as cremation was not chosen as a sign denying belief in the resurrection of the dead.

Today, however, cremation has become more common. In 1990, 17 percent of Catholic funerals involved cremation of the body, and the percentage is expected to rise to more than one in five by 2000.

The reasons for cremation are not theological, but primarily economic, according to church officials.

It is cheaper to cremate a body immediately than pay for the coffin and other related costs for viewing a body in a funeral home. When older people die in another state, it is also less expensive to have their remains cremated rather than have their bodies brought back for the funeral Mass in their hometown.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 8, 1996
Words:382
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