The Vatican recently issued more definitive guidance on cremation for Catholics. For the complete document, click here.
Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning. The Christian vision of death receives privileged expression in the liturgy of the Church: “Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed but not ended, and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven”. By death the soul is separated from the body, but in the resurrection God will give incorruptible life to our body, transformed by reunion with our soul. In our own day also, the Church is called to proclaim her faith in the resurrection: “The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live.”
Following the most ancient Christian tradition, the Church insistently recommends that the bodies of the deceased by buried in cemeteries or other sacred places. When cremation of the body has been chosen, the ashes of the faithful must be laid to rest in a sacred place.
- The Church cannot condone attitudes or permit rites that involve erroneous ideas about death, such as considering death as the definitive annihilation of the person, or the moment of fusion with Mother Nature or the universe, or as a stage in the cycle of regeneration, or as the definitive liberation from the “prison” of the body.
- The conservation of ashes of the departed in a domestic residence is not permitted.
- The ashes may not be divided among various family members.
- In order that every appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism be avoided, it is not permitted to scatter the ashes of the faithful departed in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewelry or other objects.