Does the Catholic Church Forbid Cremation?

By: Vito Arahovites
Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Every religion has its own funeral traditions and preferred burial methods. Catholics are no different. Many traditions surround a Catholic death that include when to hold the funeral, administering the last rites and the Rite of Committal. While the generalities are the same, the degree to which a person follows these traditions depends on the depth of orthodoxy of the person who has passed. In most cases, these traditions have been held for hundreds of years. However, as the world advances, some traditions change to make a modern Catholic funeral a possibility.

The History of Cremation and Catholicism

Throughout most of history, cremation was prohibited in the Catholic faith. Many Catholics believe that death is the passing from the physical world into the afterlife, and when Christ returns, bodies of the deceased will be resurrected. In this sense, many Catholics believe in preserving the body through a traditional full-body burial.

Taken directly from the bible verse in Genesis, “Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.” Many Catholics take this as instruction on full-body burial and entombment practices. Hundreds of years ago, the Pagan act of cremation was a sign of the denial of Christ’s resurrection, which meant that a Catholic cremation was essentially a final act of doubt in Christ’s resurrection.

In 1963, the Catholic Church lifted its ban on cremation with several stipulations. Cremation could only take place if the choice to be cremated was not due to any doubt or disbelief in Christ or the resurrection. Cremation could also only take place after the funeral mass; the actual body was required to perform the mass.

Ashes were also not allowed at the funeral mass since the Church places extreme importance on the body that received Baptism, Confirmation and, if applicable, the Sacrament of the Sick. In 1997, the Church lifted this ban and allowed urns to be displayed during funeral mass as they acknowledged the importance of giving grieving loved ones something tangible during the service.

Cremation and the Catholic Church Today

As technology advances, and new burial technology develops, many Catholics are choosing to be cremated. It’s estimated that almost one-third of Catholics opt for cremation in today’s world, and that number is steadily growing. The reasons for choosing cremation over a traditional full-body burial are different for everyone. Some Catholics choose to be cremated in order to save money on funeral costs, save space in the family burial plot or to have a lesser environmental impact.

Regardless of the reasoning behind choosing cremation, it’s now one of the most popular choices for Catholic families. While the Catholic Church is not overly enthusiastic about the idea, they do recognize cremation as a viable option for a Catholic burial.

Going Forward

The Catholic Church continues to recognize healthy changes within the religion. There are still a few stipulations in place to protect hundreds of years of tradition. For instance, a Catholic may now be cremated, but the remains must still be buried in a Catholic cemetery or entombed in a columbarium. Ashes of the deceased must be treated with extreme reverence the same way a full-body burial should be treated to preserve the sanctity of the funeral process.

If you would like to learn more about Catholic burials and cremation, speak with one of our knowledgeable and compassionate experts at O’Shea Funeral Home in East Meadow, NY. Call 516-826-1010 today.

Leave a comment
Name*:
Email:
Comment*:
Please enter the letters you see in the image.

Comments

Please wait

Previous Posts

Unique Memorials From Around The World

Tibet While sky burial is the first that many people think of when it comes to unique burial customs practiced in Tibet, there are actually quite a number of others practiced all over the reg...

Qualities to Look for In a Good Funeral Home

During a period of mourning and loss, it can be hard to make the big decisions at the best of times. One of these is with regard to what funeral home you ultimately choose. A number of co...

How Our Customers Can Improve Our Funeral or Cremation Service Business with Feedback

Feedback is an essential part of any business if they wish to grow and maintain exceptional service. It is also a great way to make your voice heard. We take feedback very serious at Char...

Benefits of Planning Your Funeral While You're Still Alive

When it comes to planning your final resting place, it’s never too soon to get started. Planning your funeral ahead of time, while you’re still alive, is the best way to ensure that every...

Choosing the right flowers for a funeral

Flowers are a perfect way to personalize and decorate a funeral service. They have universal meanings behind them and each type and colour signifies a different sentiment or emotion. Having the rig...

How To Personalize and Obituary

Writing and delivering an obituary is a monumentous task and should not be taken lightly. Covering a loved ones successes and highlights spanning a lifetime while maintaining brevity is quite a fea...

I'm Next in Line. What do I Say?

Finding the right words of condolence is a challenge, especially at a time with so much happening all at once. Funeral services are a soelmn affair and choosing the right words is important. On one...

The Crucial Role of a Funeral Director in the Funeral Process

A qualified funeral director is an important part of any funeral process. They are knowledgable and experienced with regard to any information or considerations that you need to keep in mind. They ...

Celebration of Life VS. Funerals

Both funerals and celebrations of life are essential items in the grieving process. However, the main difference between the two is the physical presence of the body during the ceremony. At a funer...

Should I Go to the Funeral?

Death and funerals are a time of complicated emotions, for some it is a time filled with grief, for others it starts with confusion, but for most it’s a time with immense sadness regardless of thei...