The Sanctity of Cremated Remains

Jordan Armstrong
June 23, 2017

The Vatican released new instructions on the handling of cremated remains, we've pulled a selection of quotes, if you would like to read the full document it is linked at the end of this post.

“[…] the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has deemed opportune the publication of a new Instruction, with the intention of underlining the doctrinal and pastoral reasons for the preference of the burial of the remains of the faithful and to set out norms pertaining to the conservation of ashes in the case of cremation.”

“[…] the burial of the faithful departed in cemeteries or other sacred places encourages family members and the whole Christian community to pray for and remember the dead, while at the same time fostering the veneration of martyrs and saints.

Through the practice of burying the dead in cemeteries, in churches or their environs, Christian tradition has upheld the relationship between the living and the dead and has opposed any tendency to minimize, or relegate to the purely private sphere, the event of death and the meaning it has for Christians.”

I think it's important to note the need for offering a sacredness of place. To have a space that can be revisited for remembrance and generations of meaning is a beautiful and powerful element of our communities. Often in our modern architectures and urban cultures we are eroding the meaning of death and remembrance. It is becoming a real tragedy — the neglect and repudiation of death.

“When, for legitimate motives, cremation of the body has been chosen, the ashes of the faithful must be laid to rest in a sacred place, that is, in a cemetery or, in certain cases, in a church or an area, which has been set aside for this purpose, and so dedicated by the competent ecclesial authority.

From the earliest times, Christians have desired that the faithful departed become the objects of the Christian community’s prayers and remembrance. Their tombs have become places of prayer, remembrance and reflection. The faithful departed remain part of the Church who believes ‘in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church’.

The reservation of the ashes of the departed in a sacred place ensures that they are not excluded from the prayers and remembrance of their family or the Christian community. It prevents the faithful departed from being forgotten, or their remains from being shown a lack of respect, which eventuality is possible, most especially once the immediately subsequent generation has too passed away. [...]”

Our work in communicating and inspiring an understanding of importance in acknowledging grief and memorialization is more necessary than ever. For too many have lost the ability to appreciate the beauty of the power that grants life and its meaning.

Click here to read the original document.

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