Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Vatican issues guidelines on cremation, says no to scattering ashes: Bridget Mary Meehan's Response: We need a more pastoral, spiritual, and contemporary theological approach!

Many Catholics have decided that cremation is their preferred option. These ecclesiastical regulations are an ill-advised attempt to control what or how loved ones keep, scatter or dispose of their own or loved one's remains. As Cardinal Mueller is aware, the practice of divvying up saints bodies was a popular church practice in the Middle Ages, and relics have been valued by the church for centuries! Now Catholics are forbidden to  share loved one's ashes in  different places. 

It doesn't make sense to me.

In the spiritual realm, my understanding of the Catholic belief in the resurrection of the body is not  that we will get our earthly bodies back, but that we will live forever as a new glorified transformed being/body/consciousness that is beyond our human understanding.

So,  why does where our ashes are, matter?

And why do we need to keep our remains or our loved ones in a Catholic cemetery? Why not in the ocean or scattered where we want or on our mantle if that gives our family comfort?  When we  pass over into eternity, we are still ourselves, but we do not take our earthly body with us. Do we think this is in the too hard box for God or what?

Perhaps, we can gain insight from people who have had near death experiences. In a high percentage of instances, they report a profound and loving experience of being outside their earthly bodies and being embraced by a divine presence that loves them beyond anything they have ever imagined or hoped.  ( See study of Near Death Experience Foundation, p. 1-29 in God and the Afterlife by Jeffrey Long, M.D.)

More than ever, in our church today, we need a profound conversation on our belief in resurrection and the afterlife that fills our hearts with wisdom, hope, joy and comfort. The insights of contemporary theology and the new cosmology are another major source of enlightenment.

In addition, it seem to me that these new  Vatican rules on cremation are a waste of time because they are not pastoral or sensitive to people who are grieving a loved one's loss. The question we should ask ourselves is what is the most loving thing to do in my situation.

Moreover these regulations appear to be a futile effort to promote burial in Catholic cemeteries which cost too much for many and have nothing to do with fostering faith in infinite love and divine presence with us in life, death and beyond.

The bottom line is like the ban on birth control, Catholics will follow their consciences on this issue and ignore these ridiculous regulations. 

This proverbial horse has left the barn long ago! We need a more spiritual, pastoral and contemporary theological approach!

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,

Vatican orders an end to scattering of ashes: Pope says remains must be kept in a 'sacred' place and not stored at home, divvied up or spread out 

  • Vatican sets out rules for Catholics wanting to be cremated upon death
  • Guidelines say ashes must be kept in a sacred place and cannot be spread
  • Also add that remains must not be kept at relatives' homes or divvied up 
  • Catholic Church say burial still remains the preferred option for faithful 

Vatican guidelines, which have been approved by Pope Francis, say Catholics who want to be cremated cannot have their ashes scattered or kept at home 
Vatican guidelines, which have been approved by Pope Francis, say Catholics who want to be cremated cannot have their ashes scattered or kept at home The Vatican has set out guidelines for Catholics who want to be cremated and say their ashes cannot be scattered, divvied up or kept at home.
For most of its 2,000-year history, the Church has only permitted burial, arguing that it best expresses the Christian hope in resurrection.
In 1963, the Vatican said cremation would be allowed as long as it didn't suggest a denial of faith about resurrection, although the rules were unclear.
But now new instructions, approved by Pope Francis, have been released in time for 'All Souls Day' on November 2, when the faithful are supposed to pray and remember the dead.
The document, from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, repeats that burial remains preferred, with officials calling cremation a 'brutal destruction' of the body.
But it lays out guidelines for conserving ashes for the increasing numbers of Catholics who choose cremation for economic, ecological or other reasons.
It said it was doing so to counter what it called 'new ideas contrary to the church's faith' that had emerged since 1963, including New Age-y ideas that death is a 'fusion' with Mother Nature and the universe, or the 'definitive liberation' from the prison of the body.
To set the faithful straight, the Vatican said ashes and bone fragments cannot be kept at home, since that would deprive the Christian community as a whole of remembering the dead.
Rather, church authorities should designate a sacred place, such as a cemetery or church area, to hold them.
Only in extraordinary cases can a bishop allow ashes to be kept at home, it said.
Vatican officials declined to say what circumstances would qualify, but presumably countries where Catholics are a persecuted minority and where Catholic churches and cemeteries have been ransacked would qualify.
The document said remains cannot be divided among family members or put in lockets or other mementos.
Nor can the ashes be scattered in the air, land or sea since doing so would give the appearance of 'pantheism, naturalism or nihilism,' the guidelines said.
The document, from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, repeats that burial remains preferred, with officials calling cremation a 'brutal destruction' of the body
It repeated church teaching that Catholics who choose to be cremated for reasons contrary to the Christian faith must be denied a Christian funeral.
The new instructions carry an August 15 date and say Pope Francis approved them on March 18.
The author of the text, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, was asked at a Vatican briefing if Francis had any reservations about the text, particularly the refusal to let family members keep remains of their loved ones at home.
He said: 'The dead body isn't the private property of relatives, but rather a son of God who is part of the people of God. We have to get over this individualistic thinking.'
While the new instruction insists that remains be kept together, Vatican officials said they are not about to go gather up the various body parts of saints that are scattered in churches around the world.
The practice of divvying up saints' bodies for veneration - a hand here, a thigh bone there - was a fad centuries ago but is no longer in favor.
'Going to all the countries that have a hand of someone would start a war among the faithful,' reasoned Monsignor Angel Rodriguez Luno, a Vatican theological adviser. 

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John Chuchman said...

They don't want to lose their kickbacks from Catholic cemetaries.

Walt Sandell said...

Another reason people are paying much less attention to the Vatican and the 'Hierarchy.'

Anonymous said...

My first thought was that its all about money After the sex scandals, payoffs and diocese bankruptcies, cemetery funds were probably depleted and this is just a ploy to get the remaining church-goers to buy a niche or a plot and keep the funds flowing in.