Yes, cremation is permitted by the Catholic Church. “The Church earnestly recommends the pious custom of burying the bodies of the dead be observed. It does not however, forbid cremation unless it has been chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching.” – (1983 Code of Canon Law) As more Catholics are choosing to be cremated, we need to remember that our faith does not stop there. Scripture teaches us that we are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Our body is a temple for the Holy Spirit. Thus, the body must be respected in this life as well as the next. We must treat cremated remains with the same respect as a full body in a casket. Neither are to be separated or scattered, but rather placed in a cemetery, mausoleum or columbarium as a resting place until we are resurrected and united with God in heaven.
The Vigil Service, Funeral Liturgy Mass and Rite of Committal are important parts of a Catholic burial whether cremation or full body burial is chosen. The Church prefers and urges that the body of the deceased be present for the Vigil and Funeral Mass. If cremation is chosen, the cremated remains should be contained in an appropriate vessel, like an urn, and handled with the same respect and dignity accorded to the body. The urn is placed on a table or stand before the liturgy begins. Holy water and incense are used to reverence the cremated remains and the Easter candle will burn nearby. For the Final Rite of Committal the Church requires the cremated remains be taken as soon as possible following the Funeral Liturgy to the sacred grounds of a cemetery or mausoleum and buried in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium.
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