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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

New Vatican Ruling on Cremation and Remains Could Impact Catholic Families

 

We have heard many stories of families who choose to cremate loved ones, and then keep those remains in a place of honor in their home. There have even been circumstances when those cremated remains are divided among family members.

But a new ruling issued by the Vatican late last month will put Catholics who choose one of these options in opposition to church doctrine.

The Catholic Church only permitted burial for most of its 2,000-year history, arguing that it best expressed the Christian hope in resurrection. That changed in 1963 when the Vatican allowed cremation as long as it didn't suggest a denial of faith about resurrection.

This newest announcement from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith again says that burial is preferred and lays out guidelines for conserving ashes.

 Specifically these guidelines say that ashes and bone fragments cannot be kept at home, since that would deprive the Christian community as a whole of remembering the dead. Instead it is expected that church authorities would designate a sacred place, such as a cemetery or church area, to hold them. They said that only in extraordinary circumstances could a bishop allow remains to stay in a home but did not specify what those circumstances would be. The guidelines also say remains cannot be divided among family members or put in lockets or other mementos.


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