Cremation with Inurnment
Background: A Better Understanding
From 1886 to 1963 the practice of cremation was forbidden for Roman Catholics around the world. In the spirit of Vatican Council II (1962-1965), the practice was restored in 1963. Nevertheless, over 40 years later, uncertainty regarding cremation remains prevalent.
Yes, Catholics can choose to be cremated. The revised Code of Canon Law (1983) states: The Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom of burial be retained; but it does not forbid cremation, unless this is chosen for reasons, which are contrary to Christian teaching (Canon 1176, paragraph 3). Obviously, denial of the Resurrection of the body or an attachment to non-Christian (secular or religious) beliefs would be contrary to Christian teaching.
Going back into Christian history and tradition, the Church has always expressed a preference for full-body burial, whether above-ground or in-ground. The risk taken by Joseph of Arimathea to claim the body of Jesus after his death on the cross shows the respect Christians have for proper burial of the human body.
God not only created us in our humanity, but also sent his Son to assume our body and our nature. Being made in the image and likeness of God makes our bodies inherently honorable.
The Church does not have difficulty with the process of reducing a human body to its component parts by fire since the body will revert to its simplest elements over time. Cremation becomes problematic due to human attitudes or beliefs that may underlie the choice.
Why did Christians move away from cremation?
Faith in the Resurrection of the body
Reverence for the body as a part of the Body of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit
A strong reaction to persecutors' burning of bodies as a taunt against belief in the Resurrection
Why can Christians choose cremation?
Transfer of the remains from a distant place
Financial, ecological or space considerations
National or ethnic customs
Concerns or fears about burial or entombment
Simple personal preference or a choice made on behalf of another
Seven of our cemeteries each have cremation niche options. All eight cemeteries can provide for burial of cremated remains in a grave. A Family Service Counselor can provide complete information about placing cremated remains. Prior to purchasing, you will receive a full disclosure of all options and costs.