On August 15, 2016, The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a formal statement under the direction of Pope Francis called Ad resurgendum cum Christo (To rise with Christ). This document regarding the burial of the deceased and the conservation of the ashes in the case of cremation clarifies the Catholic Church teaching about cremation.
In 1963, the then Holy Office established that “all necessary measures must be taken to preserve the practice of reverently burying the faithful departed, adding however that cremation is not opposed per se to the Christian religion.” This change was later included in the law of the Church in the Code of Canon Law of 1983.
The Instruction from the Congregation notes that over the years the practice of cremation has increased while at the same time new ideas contrary to the Church’s faith have also become widespread.
The Instruction states that following the most ancient Christian tradition, the Church recommends that the bodies of the deceased be buried in cemeteries or other sacred places in memory of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord. By burying the bodies of the faithful, the Church confirms her faith in the resurrection of the body, and intends to show the great dignity of the human body as an integral part of the human person. Burial corresponds to the piety and respect owed to the bodies of the faithful departed who through Baptism have become temples of the Holy Spirit. The burial of the faithful departed encourages family members and the whole Christian community to pray for and remember the dead.
From the earliest times, the tombs of Christians have become places of prayer, remembrance and reflection. The reservation of the ashes of the departed in sacred places ensures that they are not excluded from the prayers and remembrance of their family or the Christian community. It prevents the faithful departed from being forgotten, or their remains from being shown a lack of respect.
For above reasons, 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.
For more information regarding cremation burial contact Catholic Cemeteries at 873-6500 or visit www.buffalocatholiccemeteries.org.