Families in Catholicism are now allowed to take a few ashes from their departed and cremated loved ones and put them in a sentimental place for them, instead of a sacred place like a church or cemetery, the Vatican said on December 12, Tuesday, as they alleviate the rules in cremation.
The eased rules, signed by Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández of Argentina, occurred seven years after the Vatican set the instructions in regards to rising numbers of cremation. During those times, the previous rules specified that the ashes of the departed should be placed in a sacred place like a church or graveyard; and should not be spread “in air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewelry or other objects.”
But for the new instructions released by the Vatican, evaluation can be considered and conducted if the family requests to keep a small portion of the ashes of the dead, presuming that “every type of pantheistic, naturalistic, or nihilistic misunderstanding is ruled out.”
After the prohibition of cremation for a hundred years, Catholicism lifted the ban in 1963, stating a predilection for burials “the bodies of the dead must be treated with respect and charity, in faith and hope of the Resurrection.”
The practice of cremation grew in popularity around the world due to some critical reasons such as sanitation risks and overcrowded cemeteries. Along with this, too, was the COVID-19 pandemic that made cremation as the only option for burials. In the Philippines, cremation had become a forced option during the outbreak of COVID-19—regardless of the families’ preference on burials, because of the fear that deceased could still be contagious.
Like other religious institutions, the Catholic church found it difficult to keep up with dealing with the deceased. But now that there are more in handling the dead, families can still reminisce the loving memory of the departed people in their lives. Thus now that the Vatican allows the taking of a small portion of the dead’s ashes, it may be put in a “place of significance”, so “as not to lose the memory of their names.”
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