The Vatican has released new guidelines for Catholic cremation services allowing families to preserve a small portion of their loved one’s ashes in a personal place of significance.
In Catholic theology, cremation has remained a thoughtful point of discussion as requests for the handling of ashes continue to expand. The Catholic Church favored traditional burial options until 1963 when the Vatican lifted their restrictions on cremation but maintained certain conditions were met.
A Sacred Place of Rest
According to Church teachings, the “bodies of the dead must be treated with respect and charity, in faith and hope of the Resurrection.” Requiring a sacred place of rest is vital so those who have passed are not to be excluded from prayers or remembrance. The Church considers a sacred place of rest to be at a cemetery, a church or a consecrated area set aside for this purpose, fostering a legacy of remembrance for generations that follow.
In 2016, the Church made further clarifications in response to the rise of cremation requests. They reiterated that those who choose cremation must maintain certain guidelines including respectful handling of the deceased and a permanent sacred place of rest. Dividing ashes between family members, scattering of ashes over land or sea, and keeping ashes at home were not considered in line with Catholic teachings.
A Personal Place of Significance
In December 2023, new guidelines for Catholic cremation services were announced by the Vatican Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. Now, the new guidelines allow families to request a small portion of cremated remains to be kept in a personal place of significance, while the majority must be placed in a sacred place.
This update came in response to the increasing popularity of cremation and the rise of requests to scatter ashes in nature. While the Catholic Church still prohibits the scattering of ashes, the new guidelines do allow for ashes to be kept in a “place that is significant for the history of the deceased” where prayer and reverence are possible.
These new guidelines for Catholic cremation services also allow for ashes to be mixed in a communal urn as long as the identity of each deceased person is marked in order to preserve their memory.
How Can Green Hills Help?
If you or your loved one is a practicing Catholic and interested in cremation, we’re happy to help you navigate these difficult decisions. We can help you work toward a solution that meets both the tenants of your faith as well as your own needs and personal preferences.
Request our Online Planning Guide for more information. Whatever your preference or financial situation, cremation services at Green Hills Memorial Park allows you to honor a loved one’s memory in a number of unique and respectful ways.
We are here to help. Call us at 310-361-3252.