In this modern world, many people are unaware of the views of the Catholic Church concerning the topic of catholic cremation. Their minds are full of questions like are Catholics allowed to cremated? Do Catholics believe in cremation? And many others. In simple words, the answer to their questions is YES. However, there are specific rules and regulations that Catholics need to follow.
People who are familiar with the Catholic Church know that over the years, the church has changed its policies many times based on many principles of morality and faith. Cremation is no such exception.
There are specific rules and regulations of the Catholic Church for catholic cremation. But as a lot of confusion and questions surround the topic, here we are to clear them up, look at the changes specifically for catholic cremation, and discuss the guidelines you should pay attention to.
Why was catholic cremation not allowed?
As per the beliefs of archaeologists, the cremation has been around since the stone ages and is initially used in Europe. Later during 600 BCE, it became a standard method for disposing of the remains in Rome, while the method gained popularity in Greece by 800 BCE.
In earlier times, the dead bodies were cremated by the Romans due to their non-belief in the afterlife. However, it was a strict contradiction to the belief of Christians. With time they have associated cremation with the Pagan societies of Rome and Greece, which became one of the most important reasons for rejecting catholic cremation.
• Are Catholics allowed to be cremated as per Biblical Scripture?
In addition to the non-belief of humans in the afterlife, cremation has been denied in the biblical scripture (Gen. 1: 26-27). This scripture teaches us to respect the human body both in life and in death.
Christians, however, believed in the resurrection of the body after death. Therefore, catholic cremation was not in accordance with the custom of burying dead in a tomb. Later in 1917, it was changed by the code of Canon Law, and catholic cremation was allowed during the times of disaster, plague, and other situations requiring quick disposal of the body.
The Catholic Church- Change in Policy
In 1963 the Catholic Church changed its policy and lifted the ban on Catholic reformation due to sanitization risk, financial reasons, and overcrowded cemeteries.
However, there was an exception to this policy. Catholic cremation was not allowed if it were in this regard to the rituals, or any sense was meant to provoke the church. In addition to this, the church urges to prepare for conducting the funeral ceremony before the cremation of the body.
• Change of Funeral Guidelines
In 1997, the policy was again changed that allowed funeral to be performed in the presence of the cremated body. However, it was deemed that the non-existence of the deceased in any form can hinder healthy mourning by family and friends.
The choice still believes that the remains of the deceased are to be buried in the same manner as a whole body, in a sacred place.
• Celebration of All Souls Day
In the year 2016, On the day before All Souls Day, which is on a major Catholic holiday, the Vatican issued a definite guideline concerning Catholic cremation.
The church recommended that the pious custom should be retained. However, it doesn’t forbid cremation unless there is a reason contrary to the teachings of Christianity.
Many of the Catholics desired that their ashes should be scattered in a place that is peculiar to them or the loved one. However, it was objected that the ashes are not to be distributed on the land, sea, in the air, or any other fashion.
In addition to this, the church prohibited ashes from being exhibited in-home, cremation diamonds, into jewelry, cremation art, or any other display method.
Scattering of ashes
The church mentioned that the remains of the deceased are to be buried in cemeteries or other sacred locations only, that would allow the Catholic community to pray for and remember the Dead.
What happens if the Catholic wants or decides to have their ashes scattered or other methods contrary to the Catholic faith? In such a scenario, the church can deny a Catholic funeral for the person.
Catholicism belief in death
In the earlier times, if a Christian chose cremation over burial, it was concluded that they no longer believed in the resurrection or were scoffing at it.
The Christians detected the Celtic price of Northern Europe and Romans due to their reservation for cremating high ranking military figures. However, before the end of the 7th century, with the collapse of the Roman empire, cremation dissipated from Europe.
• Enlightenment Period
By the end of 19th-century European nationalists believe that bringing back the practice of cremation would result in the creation of a more reliable and more authentic individuality. Additionally, they were also influenced by the funeral traditions of Buddhists and Hindu.However, later on, Christianity became the official religion, and the process of Catholic cremation was banned.
In Today’s world, people argue that cremating is favorable as it reduces the body to ashes in a few hours and is more sanitary then decomposition. They think it is an answer to the problems of overcrowded cemeteries.Additionally, the affordable price of cremation made it a favorable choice for families who cannot afford a traditional Catholic funeral.
What are catholic cremation rules?
As per the Catholic Church, the accepted method for the cremation are as follow–
• The remains of the Dead must be treated with reverence at all the time, including when handled or transported to another place.
• The ashes must be placed in an urn or inside any other appropriate container
• A stand for the table must be prepared in the place occupied by the casket
• The vessel in which the remains of the Dead are placed can be carried to a prepared place during the entrance or placed beforehand.
• The Catholic consisting the Vigil and the funeral Mass are to be performed
• The body can be cremated either before or after the ceremony (as the situation arises)
• The burial must take place in a sacred location like a cemetery, crypt or mausoleum
• The Rite of Committal must be celebrated at the burial site
• A gravestone or a memorial plaque is to be placed at the burial site to mark the deceased’s memory.
What are the catholic funeral traditions?
Though cremation has been allowed by the Catholic Church, some specific rules and traditions must be carried out-
• Funeral service before the cremation
In the earlier times, the church proposed that the funeral service be performed with the body intact before the Catholic cremation occurs.
However, with time their thoughts changed on the matter, and they adamantly prefer it to be before. however, there may be particular instances that require an exception.
• Funeral service after the cremation
Typically, the cost of funeral services, including a ceremony, casket, visitation, and other facets, resulting in a problem for many families. So, the church allows the cremation before so that the friends and family have the ashes of the deceased at the ceremony.
In such cases, the wording of the Vigil for the Deceased, Funeral Liturgy, Prayers After Death, the other ceremonies are carried out. However, a reference to burying or honoring the Dead’s body is sometimes replaced with alternate prayers.
The decision of the diocesan bishop is final if it is appropriate to celebrate the liturgy for the Dead, with the ashes present or not and with or without the mass.
• Catholic funeral ceremony
In the current time, various funeral homes perform simple embalming. In addition to which they rent a casket to the family for use during the funeral procession and the viewing. This makes the whole thing a lot more affordable.
The Catholic Church- In Today’s world
the Catholic Church from the earlier times has always had strict guidelines and many other statues that are expected to be followed by the people of the Catholic faith. Fortunately for over the past 50 or more decades, the church adopted a great deal to the changing time and now allows the Catholics to follow their faith in a reasonable fashion.
The church is likely to continue its practices as the world continues to revolutionize.So, the answer to the question, does the Catholic Church allows cremation, is yes. However, specific guidelines are mentioned that are required to be followed.Here are the answers to some of the frequently asked questions about Catholic cremation
• What religion cremate their body?
Indian religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikkim, and Jainism practice cremation. A dead adult from these religions is mourned with the cremation while a dead child is typically buried.
• How long is a funeral mass?
Every funeral service is different from the other. However, the services’ length depends on the type of funeral service chosen by the family.
A funeral mass held in a Catholic Church would generally take 45 minutes. While a traditional service carried by a minister either in a church or a funeral home can take about 20 to 30 minutes. Additionally, a service taken by a civil celebrant or a humanist can sometimes be just for 15 minutes.
• Is it against catholic religion to be cremated?
As per the law, the Catholics may be cremated. However there Ashish must not be started at sea or kept in urns at home. The law states that cremated remains should be kept in a sacred place like a church or cemetery.
• Can a Catholic be cremated?
Yes, a catholic can be cremated. However, the rules and regulations mentioned by the church are to be followed for the process.