Christian Funeral

(taken from the Pastoral Manual, 1997 edition,Diocese of Rockville Centre)

  1. Since in baptism the body was marked with the seal of the Trinity and became the temple of the Holy Spirit, Christians respect and honor the bodies of the dead and the places where they rest. (OCF, 19) For the final disposition of the body, it is the ancient Christian custom to bury or entomb the bodies of the dead (OCF, 19) after the manner of Christs own burial. The Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom of burying the dead be observed; it does not, however, forbid cremation unless it has been chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching. (canon 1176, 3)
  2. In addition to the requirements of culture or custom, the desire for cremation is generally the specific choice of an individual before death for a number of reasons that may be judged good or pastoral and, therefore, can be accommodated.
  3. Cremation, however, may also be requested by the family of the deceased for what also may be judged good or pastoral reasons that can be accommodated.
  4. It is to be presumed that the faithful who choose cremation have the proper motives and good intentions. However, when a doubt arises, consult the Chancellors Office.
  5. When cremation has been chosen for a acceptable reasons, the various elements of the funeral ritethe vigil, the funeral liturgy and the final commendation and farewellshould be celebrated with the body present.
  6. The rites ordinarily performed at the grave, crypt, or cemetery chapel may be performed in the crematory building. In the event there is no other suitable place for the committal rites, the crematory building can be used, provided always that the danger of scandal or religious indifferentism is avoided.
  7. The cremated remains must always be treated with respect. They should be either interred or entombed, preferably in a Catholic cemetery.
  8. The Funeral Mass is usually celebrated with the body present. Cremation occurs after the Funeral Mass. However, In the United States, if the body has been cremated prior to the funeral liturgy, the cremated remains may be brought into the Church for the funeral liturgy.
  9. The cremated remains may not be scattered or disposed of in any manner other than a dignified interment or entombment.