Rorate Caeli

New funeral rites: No to the scattering of the ashes of the deceased

Vatican City, 30 March 2012 (VIS) - The second Italian-language edition of the "Funeral Rites", produced by the Vatican Publishing House, was presented recently at the headquarters of Vatican Radio. …

However the most significant new departure, contained in the appendix of the book, concerns cremation. Msgr. Lameri explained that the issue of cremation had been placed in an appendix to highlight the fact that the Church, "although she does not oppose the cremation of bodies, when not done 'in odium fidei', continues to maintain that the burial of the dead is more appropriate, that it expresses faith in the resurrection of the flesh, nourishes the piety of the faithful and favours the recollection and prayer of relatives and friends".

In exceptional cases the rites normally celebrated at the cemetery chapel or the tomb may be celebrated at the cremation site, and it is recommended that the coffin be accompanied to that site. One particularity important aspect is that "cremation is considered as concluded when the urn is deposited in the cemetery". This is because, although the law does allow ashes to be scattered in the open or conserved in places other than a cemetery, "such practices ... raise considerable doubts as to their coherence to Christian faith, especially when they conceal pantheist or naturalistic beliefs".

The new "Funeral Rites" also focuses on the search for the meaning of death. Concluding the presentation, Bishop Alceste Catella, president of the Episcopal Commission for Liturgy, explained that "the book is testament to the faith of believers and to the importance of respect and 'pietas' towards the deceased, respect for the human body even when dead. It is testament to the pressing need to cultivate memory and to have a specific place in which to place the body or the ashes, in the profound certainty that this is authentic faith and authentic humanism".


  1. Francis2:54 PM

    Cremation is a pagan and unBiblical practice, and was always outlawed (except in extraordinary circumstances like in times of war or pestilence where mass burial was impossible) by the Catholic Church until 1963. Cremation is another novelty and abomination that has to be abrogated ASAP IMO.

  2. What Francis describes as the former practice remains the current practice in Orthodoxy.

  3. It is a LONG way back home from the Springtime of the Civilisation of Love, isn't it?

    And notice how that there is rarely an apology for these fetid novelties whose odor is worse than that of the stink of Lazarus in the tomb; oh, there are a seemingly endless number of apologies to the enemies of Holy Mother Church for what were, objectively, absolutely spiritually mandatory actions - Inquisition, Crusades, slapping-down Galileo, etc - but when it comes to apologising for all of the novelties imposed during the dispensation of Flux and Fog ?

    We get an apology for those about as often as one hears The Roman Canon in the Lil' Licit Liturgy.

  4. Chris Jackson4:26 PM

    "The new "Funeral Rites" also focuses on the search for the meaning of death.... It is testament to the pressing need to cultivate memory and to have a specific place in which to place the body or the ashes, in the profound certainty that this is authentic faith and authentic humanism."


    "Search for the meaning of death"??

    The Catholic Church needs to search for the meaning of death? Is this similar to searching together for Truth with other religions? It is as if the Bride of Christ has amnesia and forgot She already knows the answers to these questions. This is pure Modernism. We have zero concrete answers, just feelings and experience that we use to search for the "meaning" of things.

    "Cultivate memory?" "Authentic humanism?" These are the theological reasons for not scattering ashes? To [heck] with them then. Who cares?

    Here is the bottom line to this story: an implicit denial of the Resurrection of the Body through glaring omission. This dogmatic belief, and this alone, is the reason for not cremating anyone in the first place, much less throwing their ashes around. This is the very belief that Fr. Ratzinger, at the least, questioned the meaning of, in his book "Introduction to Christianity":

    '"It now becomes clear that the real heart of faith in the resurrection does not consist at all in the idea of the restoration of bodies, to which we have reduced it in our thinking; such is the case even though this is the pictorial image used throughout the Bible'. (pp 240-41)"

    The Vatican grounds their new prohibition on spreading ashes in such Modernistic nonsense that it really has no basis at all except an emotional one.

  5. It seems to me this is yet another attempt to change a traditional rite by stealth, or the “salami technique”.

    When will they leave us alone ?

  6. Dear Mr. Jackson. Even the skeleton of Tradition is being consumed by these novelties, to say nothing of the flesh and blood praxis of Ecclesiastical and Liturgical tradition.

    In addition to what you noted, Our Holy Father has also reinterpreted the traditional understanding of the appearance of Mary to the children at Fatima by recasting that approved vision as but the product of an interior impulse of the seers.

    Just when I think I am doomed to having to spend my remaining years wandering abandoned amongst the fresh novel-strawberries ripening in the Strawberry Fields (“ nothng is real...") in the Springtime Garden, along comes the Feast of the Seven Dolours and I am brought back to sanity and reality having been reminded that the little that I have to deal with is nothing compared to the pain and suffering endured by Jesus and Mary

  7. And the Kennedys?

  8. CredoUtIntelligam6:26 PM

    Paul VI allowing cremation was a break with tradition. Allowing cremation but then discouraging it or trying to regulate the manner in which it is carried out only adds to the confusion.

    Is the text of the new funeral rite available? It would be interesting to compare the texts and catalogue the differences between the traditional rite, the new rite, and the new new rite.

    Although I have not had the time to do it in a systematic way, simply reading the different versions of e.g. the Good Friday prayers during the liturgy has been very insightful.

    As Romano Amerio proposed in Iota Unum: does post-conciliar Catholicism represent a substantial or merely accidental change in the "substance" of Catholicism? While I am awaiting the outcome of the Rome-SSPX negotiations as one answer to this question, I have found a close examination of the pre- and post-conciliar rites to be helpful in answering this question.

    The current "nuance" on the matter of cremation only adds another Ptolemaic epicycle to the post-conciliar system.

  9. Anonymous6:33 PM

    Like I wrote to a friend this morning when I first read this story -

    If I read John Paul's favorite word "authentic" (not to mention his second favorite, "humanism") again in some Vatican Euroese communique, I'm gonna spit.

  10. Francis6:40 PM

    One has to wonder whether or not the "legalization" of the novelty and abomination of cremation was part of the doctrinal discussions between Rome and the SSPX? The conciliar church's affirmation of cremation, to me, is just as bad if not worse than the destruction of the liturgy, the novelty of ecumenism, collegiality and religious freedom. All are bad and contrary to Catholic dogma, yet cremation goes against the central tenet of Catholicism and Christianity as a whole which is the BODILY Resurrection of Our Lord on Easter Sunday morning, and the bodily resurrection of everyone at the last judgement.

  11. Groaw7:08 PM

    Meh. You can't stop the boulder half-way down the hill. It makes no sense to allow cremation and then say they can't scatter it.

  12. Hold on, hold on...this may not be so bad.(I do recognize the problem of cremation) But at least we won't have Catholics so active at the Pirates of the Caribbean ride!

  13. Dear H.S. Male. Kudos to your parents on your spiritual formation. It is young men like you who are the hope of the future; as a member of the leastest generation, I know y'all do better.

    And, as far as we Catholics have sunk, we can always compare our own selevs to others and rally behind the slogan - We ain't as bad as the Piskies, yet

  14. "It makes no sense to allow cremation and then say they can't scatter it."
    In America there is still plenty of land and grave plots are not recycled every 100 years as in Europe. In some countries like Japan and China, cremation is mandatory and has been for decades. Paul VI was stating the obvious in 1963, that the Church did not oppose cremation as a per se evil, but only those who chose it to deny the resurrection of the body. By 1963 reasons for cremation were often not anti-Christian. Cremation is not an "implicit denial" of the resurrection, unless you foolishly believe God has no power to raise the dead from ashes. Read the 1963decree carefully. It was not recommended, but actually discouraged. Yet, if cremation had to be done or was chosen for a good reason, it was supposed to be done after the funeral. (Ashes could not be present at the funeral.) Meanwhile, a funeral is to be denied if done for anti-Christian reasons. But, the presumption is now that it is not chosen for those reasons.
    I am not pro-cremation, but let's try to be charitable to the Vicar of Christ.

  15. John McFarland9:30 PM

    Dear Chris Jackson,

    "The Catholic Church needs to search for the meaning of death?"

    Since the conciliar revolution, we need to search for the meaning of everything.

    We also need never to find the meaning of anything.

  16. Francis9:46 PM

    docknoils said, "Paul VI was stating the obvious in 1963, that the Church did not oppose cremation as a per se evil, but only those who chose it to deny the resurrection of the body".

    Cremation IS evil! Scripture, Sacred Tradition, Papal encyclicals and the 1917 code of canon law reinforced that. The lack of land excuse has some validity in some countries, but that was just a back drop like saving money to the modernists main goal of "legalizing" cremation, which was to make the Church more hip, worldly and enviromental friendly. After all Paul VI was a modernist, and agreed with much of the liberal and humanist garbage that was being promoted in the 1960's. Remember, these people are more concerned about this world than the next.

  17. Bernonensis11:57 PM

    There was a time, believe it or not, when Catholics kissed their loved ones and burned the diabolical "holy" books of false religions.

  18. Groaw2:10 AM

    "By 1963 reasons for cremation were often not anti-Christian"

    Wrong, the anti-Christian tendencies had only become the norm and the Christian culture blotted out.


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