Organized religions often have strict rules that are designed to help people make appropriate decisions according to their faith. Catholicism is no different, and for many years the Catholic Church had a very strict view on cremation. However, times have changed – and with it, so has the Church.
Whether you’re preparing your own will and testament or you’re in the position of making arrangements for a loved one, it’s best to clear the air about Catholicism and cremation. Having clarity on the Church’s history and current teachings can help you make plans with confidence and feel free to choose what seems right for your family.
Cremation Laws and Local Beliefs
Cremation is a scientific process that can be carried out regardless of a person’s beliefs or values. Thus, local laws usually deem cremation as legal or not – no matter the religion of the deceased individual.
With that said, many religious people consider the rules of their faith as holding more weight than local laws. So, even in places where cremation is fully accepted and commonplace (from a legal standpoint), those with a Catholic background may falter when deciding if this process is right for their family.
The Religious Belief that Puts Cremation in Questions for Catholics
Hinduism, Buddhism, and many other spiritual communities have embraced the practice of cremation and keeping cremation urns at home for centuries. Religion is very closely linked with culture, which is why different views on cremation have emerged throughout different societies.
The Catholic faith teaches that all people will be reunited when Jesus returns. Because the body is considered to be “made in God’s image,” it is to be treated appropriately – even after death. This means proper funeral rites and a peaceful burial are extremely important to Catholics.
For this reason, the Catholic Church originally opposed cremation, believing that it would conflict with God’s plan to resurrect and rejoin believers one day.
Catholicism Has Evolved with the World Around It
The Catholic Church has been around for a very long time, so it’s no stranger to cultural, political, and societal change. Because the world around us is constantly changing, the Catholic Church has become accustomed to adapting some of its teachings to better serve people in modern times.
Though cremation was originally prohibited, the Catholic Church decided to permit cremation in 1963, lifting the staunch rule forbidding the practice. This decision really reflected an awareness of changing trends and needs within the Catholic community worldwide. As cremation practices started gaining in popularity, the Church needed to adapt.
With that said, the taboo of choosing cremation remains in many Catholic communities throughout the world. In some regions, time is still needed before Catholics feel completely free to choose cremation without disapproval from other members of their faith.
Cremation and Catholicism – A Very Personal Decision
Though the Catholic Church no longer forbids cremation, it doesn’t exactly encourage it either. Nor does it encourage scattering ashes, showing a clear preference for keeping urns at home. This puts people in a very tricky spot, considering that cremation continues to gain popularity and provides a plethora of advantages – both personal and environmentally.
In the modern era, many people consider cremation a practical, affordable, and respectful way to honor a deceased loved one. For Catholics, it remains a matter of personal choice.