New Catholic regulations on cremation

Even though the Catholic Church is known for being in favor of earth burial, it has recently declared a new stance in regard to cremation. In 2016, The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared that the Church is not against cremation if certain regulations are followed. The document was approved by Pope Francis. For example, there are some prohibitions – it is not allowed to keep the ashes of a loved one at home or turn them into jewelry. Additionally, one should not scatter the ashes, but bury them in one place instead. It is encouraged to bury the remains of a loved one in sacred places or cemeteries as this would be in accordance with the Christian tradition. As Christians believe in the resurrection, burial is an important aspect of the religion. A single place of burial (contrary to scattering the ashes) allows people to visit their deceased family members and friends and pray for them.

A little bit of history of cremation– In the ancient world: It was discovered that cremation dates back to ancient times, more accurately, 3000 B.C. The ritual was practiced mainly in the territory of the Near East and Europe.

“…But when the flame of Hephaestus had made an end of thee, in the morning we gathered thy white bones, Achilles, and laid them in unmixed wine and unguents. Thy mother had given a two-handled, golden urn, and [75] said that it was the gift of Dionysus, and the handiwork of famed Hephaestus.” (Homer Od. 24.70-24.80)

The popularity of cremation was evident in Ancient Greece as it was the main way of burial. In 800 B.C. it was extremely popular as cremating bodies prevented a lot of diseases from spreading. Likewise, ancient Romans had similar practices.

– In the turn of the millennium: Even though cremation was a convenient way of burying, by 400 A.D. burying people in earth took over. From then, it was the usual way of burial, and cremation was almost forgotten.

 – In the modern ERA: However, about 150 years ago, an Italian professor Brunetti invented a cremation chamber, in which the process could be done in a convenient manner, and the popularity of cremation started to rise. Since then, more and more cremation chambers were built in the USA, starting from the one in Pennsylvania established in 1876. The Cremation Association of North America was finally established in 1975. Today, about half of deaths in the USA result in cremation, with 48.6% in 2015.

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