Many Catholics have questions about the Church’s teachings on the growing practice of cremation. This is understandable since before 1963, the Church insisted that Catholics follow only the manner of Christ’s burial by either entombing or burying the body. The Church now allows for cremation of the body, providing that family members making that decision are not doing so because they fear the body is lost forever and has no future together in Christ with the immortal soul.
Treatment of Cremated Remains of the Body
The Church requires that these remains of the body be placed in a respectful vessel and treated in the exact same way that a family would treat a body in a casket.
Since the human body has an eternal destiny in any form, the Church requires that cremated remains of a body be buried or entombed immediately after the Funeral in the same timely manner as a body. Cremated remains of a loved one are not to be scattered, kept at home or divided into other vessels among family members, just as it is clear that these practices would desecrate a body in a casket. The Church allows for burial at sea, providing that the cremated remains of the body are buried in a heavy container and not scattered.
All of these teachings on the treatment of cremated remains of the body correspond with the Christian’s foundational belief in Eternal Life—both body and soul—in Jesus Christ among the Communion of Saints.