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Pope Francis

Pope approves new decrees for the Causes of Saints

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Vatican explains why the Church does not support the scattering of ashes

2016-10-25

The deceased are not only the exclusive property of their family, but rather of the whole Church. The Vatican restated this, saying that in the case of incineration, it is best to place the ashes in a cemetery and not in a particular house.

CARD. GERHARD MÜLLER
Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
"The body of a deceased person is not the private property of his or her relatives. One who has died is a child of God, is part of the Body of Christ, the people of God. This is why we don't have private rites to bury the dead, but instead a public celebration."

With the increased number of cremations, the Vatican has decided to publish the document "Ad resurgendum cum Christo." It states that the Church is not against incineration, but instead prefers burial because it adequately corresponds to the piety and respect owed to the bodies of the faithful departed.

The document explains that some practices, like scattering one's ashes in the sea are not in line with the teachings of the Church. This is because, among other things, they marginalize the entire Christian community. 

CARD. GERHARD MÜLLER
Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
"We must overcome an excessively individualistic mindset, which closes in on the family of each person. Our families are part of a huge family of God. We believe in the resurrection of the body and that's why the grave is the normal way for Christians, for Catholics."

The document states the practice of burial is recommended to avoid every appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism that do not correspond with Catholic tradition by scattering ashes of the faithful departed on the land, in the sea or in the air.

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