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What are some Catholic cremation rules?

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Quick Answer

The Catholic Church once forbade the practice of cremation; however, cremation is now an option for Catholic burials, but the family cannot scatter the ashes afterwards or keep them at home. Instead, the family must place the ashes in a mausoleum or bury the ashes inside an urn in a consecrated grave.

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Full Answer

In 1886, the Vatican banned the burning of bodies as part of a funeral ritual, citing Masonic and anti-religious motivation in the practice. The Code of Canon Law reinforced the ban in 1918, calling it a rejection of the belief of resurrection and immortality that is a premise of the Christian faith.

A revision of Canon Law in 1983 states that the Catholic Church recommends the custom of burial, but it does not forbid cremation, provided the reasons chosen for cremation are not contrary to Christian teachings. Lack of burial space and changes in national customs are reasons for the Church’s change of heart regarding cremation. The Church’s current belief as of 2015 is that those desiring cremation do not do so out of a desire to defame the Church’s teachings or deny the bodily resurrection of the dead.

People often choose cremation for financial reasons, since cremation is significantly cheaper than a traditional funeral with a casket.

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