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How Church views the use of cremation Print
Letters to the editor
Thursday, Jun. 13, 2019 -- 12:00 AM

To the editor:

“The Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom of burying the bodies of the deceased be observed; nevertheless, the Church does not prohibit cremation unless it was chosen for reasons”contrary to Christian doctrine" (canon 1176.3).

While the Church continues to hold a preference for corporeal burial, cremation has become part of Catholic practice in the United States and the around the world.

The Church’s reverence and care for the body grows out of a reverence and concern for the person whom the Church now commends to the care of God. This is the body once washed in Baptism, anointed with the oil of salvation, and fed with the bread of life. This is the body whose hands clothed the poor and embraced the sorrowing. The human body is so inextricably associated with the human person that it is hard to think of a human person apart from his or her body.

In April 1997, the Holy See granted an indult for the United States (http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/bereavement-and-funerals/cremation-and-funerals.cfm) to allow the diocesan bishop to permit the presence of the cremated remains of a body at a funeral Mass. Later that year, they confirmed the special texts and ritual directives, which were then published as an appendix to the Order of Christian Funerals.

However, the Order of Christian Funerals’ Appendix on Cremation states: “Although cremation is now permitted by the Church, it does not enjoy the same value as burial of the body. The Church clearly prefers and urges that the body of the deceased be present for the funeral rites, since the presence of the human body better expresses the values which the Church affirms in those rites” (no. 413).

The growing interest in and desire for cremation continues to remain a question in the minds of many Catholics. Resources on this website are available to help better explain and deepen the Catholic understanding of cremation as an option for the final disposition of the body.

Richard Braun, Sacred Heart Parish, Reedsburg

 
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