Catholic Church: Keeping Or Scattering Ashes Are “Not Allowed”

VaticanCoatofArms220px-us_navy_030501-n-6141b-022_officers__sailors_aboard_the_arleigh_burke_class_guided_missile_destroyer_uss_donald_cook_ddg_75In 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.

The Vatican document, Ad Resurgendum cum Christo, is dated 15 August and approved by Pope Francis.

60 thoughts on “Catholic Church: Keeping Or Scattering Ashes Are “Not Allowed”

  1. Whether we end up in a casket or an urn is the least of the churches problems. It’ about time priest were allowed to marry and women were allowed to become priest. This thing about priest not allowed to marry has a lot to do with, you guessed it, money. Parish priest do not take a vow of poverty, nuns do. If a priest inherits money from family, it’s his. However when he dies the church gets it. If the priest had a wife she would most likely get it.

    • Whether we end up in a casket or an urn is the least of the churches problems. It’ about time priest were allowed to marry and women were allowed to become priest. This thing about priest not allowed to marry has a lot to do with, you guessed it, money. Parish priest do not take a vow of poverty, nuns do. If a priest inherits money from family, it’s his. However when he dies the church gets it. If the priest had a wife she would most likely get it.

      No, Bob. Celibacy has been the preferred state for clergy since the apostolic age. The Eastern churches made some accommodation by ordaining married men as a matter of course from the 7th century, but chose their bishops out of monastic orders. And, yes, brothers and regular priests do take vows of poverty. Secular clergy do not, but few have any property other than some chattels and an interest in their pension and fringes.

      The Church does not ordain women because no such ordination could be sacramentally valid.

      What is it with you? They;re not in the business of selling hardware.

    • Independent Bob – if the priest belongs to an order and inherits the ORDER inherits, not the Vatican, that is assuming there is a vow of poverty. The same for nuns.

  2. We did a burial at sea of a shipmate’s ashes. The swirling wind sent the ashes all over the ship. Deck division was sweeping up Hoa ashes for months. I bet he didn’t mind.

  3. I can understand perhaps where the canon intends, a canon law scholar should shed some additional light.

    My interpretation of this seems to honor the deceased through keeping with tradition of burial or internment at in sacred locations such as churches and cemeteries in not only a matter of spiritual considerations but also for the reasons of not forgetting the dead and reviving their memory if by the very least the recognition of the name only. For my beliefs I do not believe in cremation either for many for the same reasons. Yet, one needs to recognize the nature of death where many times there can be no body to dispose of. In fact using the example of the markers flush with the ground. For me this is unacceptable because, as addressed in this canon regarding the broadcast of cremains, flush headstones are easily grassed over and forgotten if not continually maintained. The best way I believe is marking the grave with a monument tall enough to avoid this problem. Pragmatism in most situations dictates the flush markers be used due to the fact they can be, literally, mowed over and having a large cemetery navigating around monuments consumes greater resources and money, something many cemetery districts have little. I am fortunate however in that my family owns several sections of a cemetery and we can mark our graves however we choose.

    The decree declares in essence a form of pragmatism. Cremation can be the only practical option available for the individual or in a society and with limitations on space and other mandates the future surely holds that cremation stands to increase in frequency.

  4. I had 12 years of Catholic education also. Priest have have always had it better than nuns. Nuns were always herded into convents, priest were out driving their own automobiles. I understand the difference between different orders. Parish priest seem to have a lot more freedom than let’s say the trappist(who only spoke foe one hour a year). I lived near a Passioist Monastary where I served mass(as an alter boy when I was young). The high school I went to has been closed and merged with another local Catholic high school. I don’t think we are selling hardware, but I do think we better get real. There should be room for priest who have a spouse and offspring and women who are ordained priest. You might tell me to not hold my breath, well quite a few churches have closed in the general area that I live in. I think there is room for male and female priest as well as monks that don’t talk to each other for a whole year.

  5. Of course the vatican would rule ashes be kept in cemeteries over dispersion – cemeteries, and their related enterprises, are a big business for the catholic church.

    People should read what the vacation/catholic churches are really about – control of people through religious fear. God did NOT invent “religions” – man did. Man took that “…upon this rock, I will build my church…” to a new level for purposes of control and building a business. Ever note that churches are listed in the yellow pages of a telephone book? Trust only the Bible, not man.

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