The phenomenon of cremation is still largely unfamiliar and emotionally uncomfortable for some Catholics. Although cremation has been a practice of the Catholic Church since 1963, restrictions allowed very few Catholics to choose it. In recent years, changes to these conditions made by the Catholic Church have enabled cremation to be considered an acceptable option.
The order of Christian Funerals, Appendix 2: Cremation, gives instructions for three different possibilities:
In the case of the third option, the cremated remains are to be placed in a worthy vessel on a small stand positioned where the casket normally would be. The urn may be carried to its place in the entrance procession or may be placed at the front of the Catholic Church before the liturgy begins.
Changes the Church has Made
Since many Catholics find cremation to be a necessity at times, the important issue of whether or not the presence of cremated remains at Mass is acceptable needed to be officially addressed.
In 1997, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ request for an indult allowing for cremated remains to be present at Mass was answered favorably. The decision, passed down by the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, grants each diocesan bishop the right to decide whether this practice will be allowed in his diocese.
When permission is granted, certain changes in the wording of funeral rites, as well as ceremonial modifications, must be made. These can be discussed in detail with your clergy.
How does the Church feel about scattering ceremonies?
Cremation itself is not a final means of disposition as it applies to the Catholic faith. The scattering of remains, an irreversible process, or permanently placing a loved one’s urn in the home of a relative, is not considered to be in harmony with the reverence that the Catholic Church requires.
The exception would be a burial at sea, in which a worthy vessel containing a complete set of remains is placed at sea in a formal rite of committal ceremony.
Ohio Cremation & Memorial Society - Columbus
Phone: (614) 840-0900
5464 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43214
Ohio Cremation & Memorial Society - Mansfield
Phone: (419) 529-6267
9 Chambers Rd., Ontario, OH 44906
© Ohio Cremation & Memorial Society
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