Vatican maintains prohibition of scattering ashes of the deceased

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The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith confirms what the former Prefect, Cardinal Müller, pointed out at this press conference in 2016: that the ashes of the deceased should be kept in sacred places, mainly in cemeteries, rather than in gardens or private homes.

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.

The current Prefect, Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández, now says that the ecclesiastical authority can evaluate some changes in particular cases. For example, they can evaluate a request by a family to preserve part of the ashes of their relative in a place of significance. The place must be sacred and rule out any practices of naturalism or pantheism.

The Prefect published this statement in response to questions from the Head of the Italian Catholic Church, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi. The document still upholds that the scattering of ashes into nature is prohibited.

This new document recalls the one from 2016, stating that delicate care of cremated loved ones “prevents the faithful departed from being forgotten, or their remains from being shown a lack of respect.”


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