In a surprise Vatican ruling for many Catholics, the Church has declared at Catholic are forbidden from keeping the ashes of cremated loved ones at home, scattering them, or dividing them between family members. This widespread practice has been deemed one of the “new ideas contrary to the church’s faith”.
Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, declared “We come from the earth and we shall return to the earth. The church continues to incessantly recommend that the bodies of the dead be buried either in cemeteries or in other sacred ground.” As a former student of a high school preparatory seminary, and raised in a Catholic family, I am astonished by the declaration. Scattering ashes would seem that most direct way to “return to the Earth.”
Ashes must be kept “in a holy place, that is a cemetery or a church or in a place that has been specifically dedicated to this purpose. The conservation of ashes in the home is not allowed . . . Furthermore, in order to avoid any form of pantheistic or naturalistic or nihilistic misunderstanding, the dispersion of ashes in the air, on the ground, on water or in some other way as well as the conversion of cremated ashes into commemorative objects is not allowed.”
“Naturalistic”? I thought it was about returning ashes to the earth. That sounds vaguely naturalistic.