Q&A: What does God think about cremation? By Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
JUL. 30, 2011 (http://wdtprs.com
) - From a reader: Father..I’m making end of life arrangements. I am a cradle Catholic. We have a columbarium in our ____ and it all makes sense but…cremation freaks me out. Do you think Our Lord will be angry at me if I have my body cremated? All this hesitation comes from my childhood.
I am glad you are making some arrangements now. That is the responsible thing to do.
We affirm that to bury the dead is a corporal work of mercy. We also affirm that the bodies of the deceased baptized are worthy of respect because people are made in the image and likeness of God and have great dignity and because they were temples of the Holy Spirit.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:
2301 [... ] The Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body.
In the ancient Roman cremation was very common, but inhumation (burial) was more common for the Jews. Early Christians followed the Jewish practice more than the pagan. In the case of plague, however, and some other situations, cremation was abandoned.
However, the practice of cremation was rekindled in modern times. The Church forbade it since it seemed like a denial of the teaching of bodily resurrection. The 1917 Code of Canon Law funeral rites for the cremated. In 1963, however, the prohibition was lifted. The 1983 Code of Canon Law allows cremation but inhumation is strongly recommended. However, if there is a way in which the cremation is a statement in some way against the teaching of bodily resurrection, cremation would be prohibited. I don’t know what censures there would be. We need the Canonical Defender!
So, in short, cremation is permitted by the Church.
Absolutely prohibited as in wrong wrong wrong is the scattering of ashes.
It is understandable that Catholics would have a… hesitation about cremation.
That said, friend, I don’t think you need to fear that the Lord will be unhappy with you for doing something the Church allows, so long as you have striven to know Him, love Him and serve Him in this life.