Cremation

“The bodies of the dead must be treated with respect and charity, in faith and hope of the Resurrection. The burial of the dead is a corporal work of mercy; it honors the children of God, who are temples of the work of the Holy Spirit.”

Is cremation acceptable to the Church?

The Catholic Church permits cremation provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body. The Church counsels that, if  the body is to be cremated, that it be done after the funeral. This gives relatives and friends the chance to view the body, express their condolences, etc. It also counsels that the cremains then be buried in blessed ground. This provides a place to visit and pray. Many cemeteries allow cremains to be buried on top of another grave, or for two or more cremains to be buried in the same cemetery plot. Entombment in a mausoleum also provides a place and many opportunities to pray and remember. As time goes by, that place to visit and remember becomes very important.

Can the cremains be brought to Church?

The Vatican Indult states “It is greatly to be preferred that the funeral liturgy take place in the presence of the body of the deceased prior to its cremation.” The presence of the body shows reverence for the body, can contribute toward our belief in resurrection of the body, and provides the closure of seeing the body of the deceased.

Until a short time ago, the Catholic Church did not allow cremains to come to Church. The funeral was always celebrated with the body present. It is important to note however, each diocesan bishop has the right to decide whether to allow the practice in his diocese.

“The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God – it is not produced by the parents; it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.”

Autopsies

Autopsies can be morally permitted for legal inquests or scientific research. The free gift of organs after death is legitimate and can be meritorious.