Since 1963, cremation has been an acceptable option for those of the Catholic faith. Whenever possible, however, the church always prefers the interment or entombment of the body because it gives fuller expression to our Christian faith.
When cremation is chosen, the preferred sequence for the final rites is for cremation to take place after the Funeral Mass. Whether cremation takes place before or after the funeral rites, the church expects these families to seek an appropriate final resting place for the cremated remains of the body. The scattering of the cremated remains or keeping the cremated remains in a home are not the reverent disposition that the church requires.
Recently, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued an Instruction, To Rise With Christ, on the burial rites involving ashes/cremated remains of the deceased. The Instruction says:
- The Church insistently recommends that the bodies of the deceased be buried in cemeteries or other sacred places.
- The ashes of the faithful must be laid to rest in a sacred place.
- The conservation of the ashes of the faithfully departed may not be kept at home.
- The cremated remains of the faithful must stay together and may not be divided among family members or scattered in nature.
- It is not permitted that the ashes of the faithful be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewelry or in any other objects.