Church teaching insists that the cremated remains of a body should be treated with the same respect given to the human body from which they come. The remains should be placed in a worthy vessel and be carefully and respectably handled.
Historically, the Catholic religion did not prefer cremation because of the belief in life after death. In recent years, this has changed, and the process of cremation is accepted unless it is chosen as a way to deny the Christian teaching on Resurrection.
According to Canon Law, “The Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom of burial be retained; but it does not forbid cremation, unless this is chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching.” – The Code of Canon Law, 1985, #1176.3
What Should I Do with Cremated Ashes?
When cremation is chosen for a good reason, the Order of Christian Funerals should still be celebrated, which includes a Vigil Service (wake), a Funeral Liturgy, and the Rite of Committal. This allows for the greater expression of Catholic beliefs and values, the sacredness of human life, the dignity of the individual person and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the firstborn of the dead.
Once you have made a decision about cremation, you can pick a place for burial or entombment. The Church’s preference is for the ashes to be buried or interred in a consecrated Catholic cemetery. The body needs to be disposed of in a way consonant with the human dignity that should be afforded to everyone.
Scattering cremated remains, dividing cremated remains, or keeping cremated remains in the home are not considered to be reverent or respectful dispositions. The remains of a cremated body should be treated with the same respect given to the remains of a human body. This includes a worthy container to hold the cremated remains.
Remembering a Loved One
If you decide that cremation is the best option for your family, you may decide to place the cremated remains in a permanent urn for final disposition. Other options are also available. View some of our examples
Albany Diocesan Cemeteries offers a wide range of options for the permanent memorialization of cremated remains, including mausoleum niches, columbariums, and urn gardens.
New columbarium options are now available in select cemeteries.