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Treating Cremains Reverently

Although I know the Catholic Church approves of cremation, I can’t find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church what the Church requires that Catholics do with the ashes (cremains). Do they have to be buried as in a traditional burial?


According to the second section of article 2301, “The Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body.” 

Cremains should be placed in a secure container and either buried or placed in a columbarium, a niche that is then covered, usually with the person’s name and other data on its front. The Catholic Church does not object if the secure container is placed in a large body of water, provided that all relevant laws are observed. Most Catholic cemeteries have a columbarium. At www.vatican.va, you can find the August 15, 2016, document on this from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Why did the Catholic Church ever oppose cremation? Especially in the 18th century, some of its most zealous proponents also denied that there is a life after death and that glorified bodies can ever join the risen Jesus. The Catholic Church once rejected cremation in order to oppose a teaching so contrary to the New Testament.


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