Printer Friendly
The Free Library
23,383,293 articles and books


What does the church say about cremation?

Margaret is in her late 80s and has decided it's time to plan her funeral. A lifelong Catholic, she's pleased to learn the church permits cremation, which she finds attractive because of Its simplicity anti, in her case, lower cost.

She is not alone in her choice. In the 1990s cremation was used in 20 percent of funerals in the United States. The number of cremations is rising every year, and in some states cremation surpasses the number of traditional burials. Catholics are tracking this trend.

But it was not always so. In the 1880s the Vatican condemned the "attempt to introduce the practice [of cremation] into Christian society" as "un-Christian and Masonic in motivation:' Masonic plots aside, the church lifted its prohibition on cremation in 1963, and the 1989 edition of the Order of Christian Funerals contained prayers for the committal of cremated remains. In 1996 the U.S. bishops requested and received permission from the Vatican to allow celebration of the funeral liturgy with cremated remains in place of the body.

When it comes to celebrating a Catholic funeral involving cremated remains, the church asks that those involved uphold Christian beliefs about death, especially the resurrection of the body and reverence for the body of the deceased. According to church law and teaching, "The church earnestly recommends that 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" (Code of Canon Law) and "does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body" (Catechism of the Catholic Church).

Those considering cremation have a number of ritual options. The church prefers the body to be present at the funeral liturgy, with cremation and committal of the remains taking place afterward. If cremation has occurred before the funeral, the preference is for the cremated remains to be present at the liturgy, then committed. Third in order of preference is committal followed by the liturgy. Cremated remains should receive the same respect and reverence as a body in their carrying and disposition in a final resting place, always in a cemetery or mausoleum, never scattered or kept in a home.

As they make their final pilgrimage from life through death to fullness of life in God, Catholics today who choose cremation can find their place in the words of the church's funeral liturgy: "In the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to Almighty God our sister, and we commit her earthly remains to their resting place, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.."

By JOEL SCHORN, managing editor of True quest Communications in Chicago and co-author with Alice Camille of Faith Interrupted: A Conversation with Alienated Catholics (forthcoming from Loyola Press).
COPYRIGHT 2004 Claretian Publications
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Glad you asked: q&a on church teaching
Author:Schorn, Joel
Publication:U.S. Catholic
Date:Mar 1, 2004
Words:477
Previous Article:Be like Pat: we're looking for a few steadfast men.
Next Article:Don't read all about it! Spiritual reading and education is big business these days. But could reading that one more book about the faith perhaps...



Related Articles
CATHOLIC BISHOPS WANT CHURCH TO ALLOW CREMATED REMAINS AT FUNERAL MASS.
The questions about purgatory.
KEEPERS OF THE FLAME LOVERS OF ARAMAIC LANGUAGE HOPE NEW FILM SPARKS REBIRTH.
Mass etiquette.
Look who's leading my funeral: why I asked two women to preach and preside at my funeral.
Ashes to ashes - to keep, to scatter, to bury.
Traditionalists weigh in.
Animated, enamoured, inspired; not alienated.
How should we say 'thank you'?

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters