It was announced yesterday that Pope Francis has approved and published a document entitled “To Rise With Christ” which offers pastoral guidance regarding care for the bodies of our faithful departed. In particular, I am grateful for the ways in which the document addresses erroneous ideas and customs that have arisen regarding the practice of cremation. The reality is that burying the body of our loved ones confirms our Christian faith in the resurrection of the body. When cremation is chosen for legitimate reasons, the ashes must be treated in the same manner as we would treat the body. This means laying them to rest in the ground of a cemetery or some other sacred place dedicated for prayer and reflection. Other practices which involve storing, dividing, or scattering the remains do not reflect the dignity of the body and are not permitted.
Scripture reminds us that it was through the death and resurrection of Jesus that we were freed from sin and given access to eternal life. The manner in which we care for the bodies of the faithful departed directly reflects our belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. May we follow our Holy Father’s guidance with an increased sense of hope that all of us may one day walk in the newness of life with Christ (Romans 6:4).
Instruction Ad resurgendum cum Christo regarding the burial of the deceased and the conservation of the ashes in the case of cremation