Blog - Catholics now have a choice of burial or cremation

Posted on the cbc news website:

"To set the faithful straight, the Vatican said ashes and bone fragments cannot be kept at home, since it would deprive the Christian community as a whole of remembering the dead. Rather, church authorities should designate a sacred place, such as a cemetery or church area, to hold them. Only in extraordinary cases can a bishop allow ashes to be kept at home, it said.

'The dead body isn't the private property of relatives.'
- Cardinal Gerhard Mueller

Vatican officials declined to say what circumstances would qualify, but presumably countries where Catholics are a persecuted minority and where Catholic churches and cemeteries have been ransacked would qualify.

The document said remains cannot be divided among family members or put in lockets or other mementos. Nor can the ashes be scattered in the air, land or sea since doing so would give the appearance of "pantheism, naturalism or nihilism," the guidelines said.

It repeated church teaching that Catholics who choose to be cremated for reasons contrary to the Christian faith must be denied a Christian funeral. The new instruction carries an Aug. 15 date and says Pope Francis approved it March 18. The author of the text, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, was asked at a Vatican briefing if Francis had any reservations about the text, particularly the refusal to let family members keep remains of their loved ones at home."