Cremation, burial call for equal dignity

By JAVIER FAJARDO

There are different reasons why more and more people each year choose to be cremated. Our bluegrass state is still very traditional when it comes to burial practices, but that is rapidly changing.

The Holy See lifted the ban on cremation in 1963. As stated in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, “the Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom of burying the bodies of the deceased be observed; nevertheless, the Church does not prohibit cremation unless it was chosen for reasons contrary to Christian doctrine.”

When cremation is chosen, the church recommends that the body of the deceased be present for the funeral rites. The presence of the human body better expresses the values that the church affirms in the funeral rites. Nevertheless, in 1997 the Holy See gave the bishop of each diocese the authority to allow the celebration of a funeral liturgy in the presence of the cremated remains.
Regardless of the form of the remains, the church expects those who have been baptized as Catholics to take full advantage of the Order of Christian Funerals.

These rites include prayers at the time of death and thereafter, a wake service allowing time for prayers and support, a Mass of Christian Burial celebrated for both the living and the dead, and burial in a Catholic cemetery.

With the rapid increase in the number of cremations performed each year also comes a wide range of new practices regarding how families handle the final disposition of the cremated remains of their loved ones.

The Catholic Church recognizes the dignity and sacredness of the human body and emphasizes that cremated remains should be treated with the same amount of respect that is given to the human body from which they came. This includes the use of a worthy vessel to contain the cremated remains of the person, the proper care in transporting them and their final disposition in consecrated ground.

Traditionally, full size graves in our Catholic Cemeteries were intended to accommodate the remains of one person. However, because the sharp increase in the number of cremations, burial rights over a grave can allow for a second burial in the form of cremated remains. Therefore, a full size grave can accommodate both a full size burial and a burial of cremated remains, or two burials of cremated remains.

Burial in a Catholic cemetery is a statement of continued belief in everlasting life, even in death. Let’s work together to assure the continuation of the sacred values and commitments that the church has made to its faithful.

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