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Vatican Issues Cremation Guidelines, Forbids Scattering Of Ashes

Cremation
Posted: Oct 25, 2016 at 6:50 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

New guidelines from the Vatican’s doctrinal office, on Tuesday said Catholics may be cremated, but the ashes therefrom should not be scattered at sea or kept in urns at home, but in a “sacred place” like a church cemetery.

The guidelines, according to the CNN, also require that the ashes should not be divided up between family members, “nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewellery or other objects.”

The guidelines noted the Vatican’s concern that the practice often involves “erroneous ideas about death.”

The Vatican had in 1963 said burial of deceased bodies should be the norm, but cremation is not “opposed per se to the Christian religion.”

Catholic funeral rites should not be denied to those who had asked to be cremated, the church said.

In recent years, however, “new ideas” contrary to the Catholic faith have become widespread, the Vatican added.

The guideline names pantheism (the worship of nature), naturalism (the idea that all truths are derived from nature, not religion) and nihilism (a deep scepticism about all received truths) as particularly problematic.

Anyone who therefore chooses cremation for any of those reasons, should be denied a Catholic burial, the new guidelines say.

As cremations have become more popular — nearly half of Americans said they were at least “somewhat likely” to choose cremation upon their death — the Vatican, like other religious institutions, has struggled to keep pace with the trend.

In the United States, cremations have taken on a highly personalized and commercial aspect, with companies offering to load cremains into shotgun shells so that family members can take them on turkey hunts.

Nature lovers ask that their ashes be scattered under a favourite tree or inserted into coral reefs. Cremains can be shot into space, or refashioned as diamonds.

Such practices are sacrilegious, the Vatican’s new guidelines say.

Catholicism teaches that all people will be resurrected — both body and soul — at the end of days. Cremation does not “prevent God, in his omnipotence, from raising up the deceased body to new life,” the Vatican says, but it does raise the possibility that the deceased’s body, which the church believes is sacred, will not be properly respected by ancestors and relatives.

“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 whose body forms part of their identity,” the new guidelines state.

The Vatican makes clear, however, that there are valid sanitary, economic and social reasons for cremation, even while stressing that burial remains the best way to demonstrate “esteem” for the deceased, and cremains can only be kept at home with special permission from a bishop.