Thursday, August 09, 2007

Is Cremation an option?

Cremation seems to be an interesting topic as the Church used to strongly condemn cremation unless it was strictly necessary (e.g. epidemic or war). However the 1983 Code of Canon Law does not forbid the practice of cremation "unless this is chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching" (Can. 1176). An example, (although there could be many examples) of a reason contrary to Christian teaching would be preferring to be cremated because you a member of the Masons or have taken to heart some sort of Buddhist belief (Being apart of the masons is in itself condemned by the Church). Funerals can be celebrated in the Church for those members who have chosen cremation in line with the Church.

Also, it is not appropriate to "scatter the ashes" over an area or to keep the "ashes" in an urn in your home etc.. The Church still requires that a proper burial take place, so as to preserve the dignity of the deceased. I have given you what the Church teaches. Now the next paragraph I'm writing will be my opinion on this matter although I place my Faith in Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church and agree with all of the Church's teachings.

In my opinion I think cremation is not a good choice. Although I agree it is not wrong ordinarily, I think cremation doesn't have the same dignity that being buried with the body unharmed has. I recently attended the funeral vigil for a young man (early 20s I think) that died. The church was filled with people mourning and praying the rosary for him. His face was visible from the casket and it was very moving. Also, this week I served at a different funeral where the individual had chosen cremation. A small simple box replaced the traditional casket and it seemed so strange to think that a man was reduced to ashes (although we can recall through this the scriptures saying "You are dust, and unto dust you shall return"). To have the body present though, we can look at the remains and remember the individual much clearer and this can be a symbol for us to pray for them, just as a statue of a saint lifts our minds to that saint and inspires us. To me, leaving the body unharmed seems to have the most dignity and honor possible for those individuals.

What say ye faithful of Jesus Christ?


Esther said...

Thank you for posting this. With my 94 year old grandma currently very ill, we needed to look into options. Although, this was a choice, our family did not feel it right to go this route. The remains of the loved one needs to have a Catholic burial, doesn't she/he?

Anonymous said...

I agree, one's body should be left intact for burial, after organ donation if one so chooses. Cremation seems so wrong to my mind & as you said yourself, burial seems more honourable.

PBXVI said...

Thank you--I have corrected my article to include the question of burial. Burial is necessary indeed. I will pray for your grandma!

Personally I have chosen not to allow organ donation for myself at this point, as occasionally here in the states doctors have killed patients early to "harvest" their organs while they are still "fresh". I may in the future permit it however as it is a meritorious act when done with respect for life.

God bless!

Ebeth said...

Ok, This is a scart topic that we need to face. The Church teaches that if a person choses cremation, 1) the body must be present for the Funeral and final blessing, and 2) that it be placed in a grave or Columbarium. (Which is a wall of square compartments (like mailboxes)to place the urn it. My mother (cradle Catholic) has already purchased hers in her parish. It makes sense that the body be present at the funeral and I am wondering if the body was inside the simple casket you are speaking about. That is how is should be in order to conform to Church teachings.


Ebeth said...

I meant to type "scary" instead of "scart". Oops....

PBXVI said...

Thanks for commenting! I had not read before the guidelines you gave me and would you please be willing to give me a source so I could post this? This is very interesting. I am positive that the "body" was not present for the funeral Mass we celebrated--only the ashes were (The ashes were in a small white box, and that white box was in a box a little bigger that is about the size of a baby cradle). I wonder if this is an abuse. Our parish has the small box I just talked about to be used for this purpose of those individuals who have chosen cremation. It would seem weird that they would have this if it was not allowed. Thanks again!
God Bless!

Ebeth said...

Jimmy Akin does a pretty good job of discussing this topic:
But you're right, the Church still holds burial as the most recommended means.


mm said...

i have been to 2 catholic funerals where the deceased was cremated.
there was casket viewing with the body, the body was cremated after the funeral mass which was at the cemetary, so the cemetary house or funeral directors did it in another building there