Can Cremains Be Divided?

Full Question

Can cremains be divided into multiple “packets” for burial in multiple sites?


No. Cremains must be kept together and committed in their entirety to an appropriate place of burial. A recent instruction from the Vatican on the issues surrounding cremation states:

The ashes may not be divided among various family members and due respect must be maintained regarding the circumstances of such a conservation. 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. These courses of action cannot be legitimized by an appeal to the sanitary, social, or economic motives that may have occasioned the choice of cremation (Instruction Ad Resurgendum Cum Christo 6–7).

By Michelle Arnold

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