Catholic Cremation Rules Have Changed. Here’s What You Should Know.

Catholic cremation rules have often caused confusion and concern for families wishing to choose the cremation alternative to burial. While each local parish might have their own interpretations and restrictions, The Vatican formally announced an updated official church position on cremation in October 2016. At Stillinger Family Funeral Home, we want you to understand the Church’s tenets regarding cremation, as well as how we can work with you to include cremation in reverent and modern services.

Cremation has been allowed by the Catholic Church since 1963; however, there were – and continue to be – many rules for this method of disposition. For example, common cremation practices in the lay community might include scattering ashes, or separating them into portions for family and friends to be kept in the home or included in decorative items and keepsakes. Such practices, however, are not approved by the Catholic Church.

To remind Catholics of the Church’s position on cremation, The Vatican recently announced the cremation rule updates. Under the current guidelines, burial is still preferred, but cremation is an acceptable option with certain restrictions. For example, when a body has been cremated, the ashes must be kept intact. They may not be scattered or separated or placed into keepsakes or mementos. Rather, they are to be placed in an appropriate vessel such as a sealed urn and interred in a properly reverent location, such as a church or cemetery. Rare exceptions to the place of internment rule can only be authorized by a bishop.

One option that adheres to Catholic cremation rules and can preserve the right of the deceased to have a memorial service in the church is to have the not-yet-cremated body in a casket during the service, with cremation to follow. Another alternative involves the use of our cremation ark, a distinctive carrier that can be used in our funeral home or in non-Catholic churches. The ark enables us to offer traditional aspects for non-traditional services. It is used to display and transport the cremation urn during services and to the gravesite. Our cremation ark has handles so it can be carried by four pallbearers. Its glass enclosure and sides can be removed to accommodate an infant casket. It can also showcase a military flag.

At Stillinger Family Funeral Home in Greenfield, Indiana, we honor the traditions, rules and reverence of the Catholic faith, including catholic cremation rules. We work closely with parishes and Church officials to make sure the faith and its principles are respected and protected. To learn more about how we can work with your family, regardless of your faith, contact us today at (317) 462-5536.

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