Catholic Church issues new guidelines for cremation. Here’s what you need to know




The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued new guidelines for cremation for Catholics. Cremation has been permitted in the Catholic Church since 1963, but many Catholics don’t know there are also many rules surrounding the choice.

Since 1963, Catholics have been allowed to choose cremation over burial as a means of laying a loved one to rest. Cremation is a popular choice since it is less expensive and more manageable than a full burial.

However, some Catholics have not been dealing properly with their loved ones remains. Common practices include scattering ashes, parting ashes out to friends and relatives, and keeping the ashes in a common area, such as a living room.

These practices promote heretical ideas and can be dangerous from a faith perspective. This is why the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued updated guidelines.

According to the new guidelines, burial is still preferred, but cremation is an option. When a loved one has been cremated, their ashes must be kept intact, the same as one would treat a body. The ashes may not be separated or scattered. Instead, they should remain in a proper vessel that is interred in a proper place, such as a cemetery or church. Only the bishop can authorize an exception to this storage requirement in extraordinary circumstances.

The problem, the Congregation says, are new age ideas which have taken hold in modern times. People have come to see scattering of their ashes as allowing a “fusion” of them with nature, or that death is a form of liberation from the body. These ideas flirt with new age religion and are not Catholic. Ashes cannot be scattered because it gives the appearance of “pantheism, naturalism, or nihilism.”

Finally, the document stresses that Catholics who choose cremation for reasons contrary to the faith, (e.g., to have their ashes scattered)  must be denied a Christian funeral.


By Marshall Connolly





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11 comments

  1. Geri Reply

    My daughter who no longer practices Catholicism, would like her ashes spread if she dies before me. Am I wrong to respect her request?

    1. Loren Reply

      Yes. The reasons for these rules are not because they are “Catholic”, but because they are correct.
      The truth is the truth, no matter what.

    2. Beth Reply

      Yes, it would be wrong on your part, as stated in the guidelines. We are bound to honor God, not people. Since she is still alive, it would be respectful to let her know this and show her the Catholic Church’s guidelines because they are quite beautiful as they show the amount of respect we have for the human body.

    3. Settinitstrait Reply

      Absolutely. Did you not read the article to it’s end??

  2. Robert Gobey Reply

    If you agreed to do that before she died it would only be honourable for you to do so

  3. Dawn Marelli Reply

    Can you be cremated before a Funeral Mass or does it have to be done after the Mass?

  4. Carolyn Schuble Reply

    Does the burial of the urn have to be buried in Catholic cemetery?

  5. Peter Reply

    Too bad the Church doesn’t follow its own “rules” and keep the Saints bodies intact! Instead they have cut them up and spread then around to churches as relics. Its also interesting they want the cremated remains interned at a Carholic cemetery. Hmmmm – which of course you have to pay for and guess who gets the money? I think I see Jesus coming to overturned the money changers tables.

  6. Peter Reply

    Too bad the Church doesn’t follow its own “rules” and keep the Saints bodies intact. Instead they cut them up and spread them around to churches as relics. Its also interesting they want the cremated remains interned at a Carholic cemetery. Hmmmm – which of course you have to pay for and guess who gets the money? I think I see Jesus coming to overturn the money changers tables.

  7. DJ Jason Reply

    I am a career sailor, and I would like my ashes to be sunk in the ocean, like many before me, both in wartime and in peacetime. JFK’s son was so interred, and he was a practising Catholic, and came from a prominent Catholic family. How did they get permission? Will my soul go to hell if i do this?

    1. Peter Reply

      They paid for it and their last name is Kennedy.

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