Vatican issues cremation guideline, bans keeping, scattering of ashes or keeping them as accessories

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  • Vatican issued guidelines on cremation, said practice is not prohibited per se
  • However, it banned keeping of ashes, scattering or keeping them as accessories
  • It said the practice is reminiscent of “pantheism, naturalism or nihilism” and must be avoided

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican has issued new guidelines on cremation banning the preservation of ashes at home, and scattering or turning them into accessories.

In its Instruction Ad resurgendum cum Christo Regarding the Burial of the Deceased and the Conservation of the Ashes in the Case of Cremation”, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith noted that while the Catholic Church does not prohibit cremation, the practice of keeping ashes of loved ones at home, scattering or making accessories out of them must be banned to stifle “pantheism, naturalism or nihilism.”

“In order that every appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism be avoided, it is not permitted to scatter the ashes of the faithful departed in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewelry or other objects. These courses of action cannot be legitimized by an appeal to the sanitary, social, or economic motives that may have occasioned the choice of cremation,” it said.

Explaining the importance of keeping the body of departed one in a public resting place as this “ensures they are not excluded from the prayers and remembrance of their family or the Christian community,” the Congregation however said the keeping of ashes at home is permitted “only in grave and exceptional cases dependent on cultural conditions of a localized nature, may the Ordinary, in agreement with the Episcopal Conference or the Synod of Bishops of the Oriental Churches, concede permission for the conservation of the ashes of the departed in a domestic residence.”

“Nonetheless, the ashes may not be divided among various family members and due respect must be maintained regarding the circumstances of such a conservation,” it stressed.