Catholic doctrine on cremation

Catholic from ancient times has doctrines and teaching which guide them and it’s among the most organised and unified denominations in the world. As time goes some of the doctrines has changed and the doctrine about cremation in catholic church is one of them.

First what is Cremation ?

Cremation is the process of burning a dead body in alternative to burial.

History of cremation

The first known attempt of cremation was when God told Abraham to kill and sacrifice his son by burning him before an angel came showed Abraham an animal to use.

Also it was believed that cremation has been a practice early in Europe ,a common method for disposing dead body in Rome by 600BCE and in Greece in 800BCE .

Romans Cremated their dead for they believe there’s no after life which is why Christian where totally against the practice and connects it with Pagan societies of Rome and Greece .

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What is catholic teaching on Cremation

Catholic doctrine on cremation

Catholic doctrine where against the practice of cremation of dead body because they believe those that died are of Christ image and has to be buried and not cremated so as to resurrect on the last day with Christ in union with their body which they believe cremation can make it impossible to happen.

Also they believe every human being both dead or alive have to be treated with respect and cremation was considered being disrespectful to the dead body.

In 1917 the code of canon law said that dead bodies can be cremated only during a plague or disaster or any condition that needs the dead body to be disposed immediately.

Again in the year 1963 due to financial reasons, few cemeteries to contain dead bodies and sanitation risks the Catholic Church lifted the ban on cremation under the reign of Pope Paul VI . Although they accepted bodies to be cremated, burial was still preferred method of disposing dead body.

Cremation wasn’t allowed if it tends to go against the teaching of the church and it was also said that cremation will be done after funeral ceremony of the deceased.

In 1997 the Catholic Church allowed the deceased to be cremated before the funeral ceremony because absence of the deceased doing the funeral can prevent proper mourning from the deceased relative.

The Catholic Church still stands on the teaching that even though the body is cremated it must still be buried in the same way as a full body in a sacred place of burial.

The Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom(burial of the dead body) be retained, but it does not forbid cremation, unless this is chosen for reasons, which are contrary to Christian teaching.

Catholic church prevents and stand against the practice of scattering the ashes of the cremated body on the water, air land or any other means of scattering the ashes, they also go against putting the ashes in a container and exhibiting it in the house or turning it into a jewelry or any other methods of display.

Proper way Catholics accepts is the burying of the ashes at the cemetery or any other sacred locations where Catholics communities can pray for the dead and remember them. Any one that goes contrary to these rules Catholic funeral will be denied for the person.

Also the ashes should be treated with respect especially when being transported, relatives aren’t allowed to share the ashes among themselves, it shall be placed in a special urn or other approved container which it will be carried on from the funeral mass to the sacred places eg cemetery ,crypt ,mausoleum where it will be buried and a gravestone mounted on top of the grave to record the memory of the deceased.

Cremation seems to be more cheaper for family with Financial problems who can’t afford a casket,cremated body also takes up little space when buried in the cemetery , which gives space for lot of other dead people to be buried.

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In summary due to increase in death rate, lack of land for cemetery, family financial reasons and plagues. The Catholic Church has accepted the cremation of the body under certain rules that prevents it to go against catholic teachings.

Catholics believe that at the last day all soul will resurrect, unify with their body. Due to God being ominipotent Cremation can’t prevent such from happening.


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