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Old Aug 12, '04, 12:25 pm
Mia Storm Mia Storm is offline
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Join Date: May 21, 2004
Posts: 42
Religion: Catholic
Default Does the Church allow cremation?

On another web site a prominent Catholic apologist claims that "there has been no official statement from the Church allowing cremation"; therefore, the Church doesn't allow it and the desire for cremation is a "subconscious attempt to escape the judgment prophesied by John 5:28-29."

Now I'm confused. I thought the Church allowed cremation. What's the scoop? Thanks!
Old Aug 12, '04, 12:52 pm
Michelle Arnold's Avatar
Michelle Arnold Michelle Arnold is offline
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Join Date: May 3, 2004
Posts: 4,951
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: Does the Church allow cremation?

Well, let's review the evidence:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has a helpful summary of the modern status of cremation on its web site:

Cremation and Catechesis in the Funeral Liturgy

The document explains that the Holy Office (now the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) published an instruction on cremation just prior to Vatican II:

On the eve of the Second Vatican Council, the Holy Office published a new instruction regarding cremation. The document Piam et constantem (May 8, 1963) reiterated the Church's opposition to cremation, but lifted the penalties that had formerly been attached to it:

Cremation does not affect the soul nor prevent God's omnipotence from restoring the body; neither then, does it in itself include an objective denial of ... dogma. The issue is not therefore an intrinsically evil act, opposed per se to the Christian religion.
This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2301) has to say:

The Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body.
The Catechism cites the 1983 Code of Canon Law:

Can. 1176 3 The Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom of burial be retained; but it does not forbid cremation, unless this is chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching.
While the Church prefers burial of the body, it does not forbid cremation unless cremation is chosen for anti-Christian reasons. Because internal motivation is usually only apparent to God himself, the Church does not presume to determine the subconscious desires of an individual who has not otherwise clearly expressed his wish to scorn Christian teaching on the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment:

To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor's thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved [CCC 2478; emphasis added].

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