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¿Entierro o cremación? That’s not a simple choice for the modern Catholic. Burial has been the tradition for a long time. Even though cremation has been allowed by the Church for half a century, it’s only in the last few years that it’s become more popular for people of all faiths.
Is it really okay for Catholics to be cremated? And what are some of the reasons you might want to consider cremation when preplanning your own funeral or making arrangements for a loved one?
Long ago, the Catholic Church rejected and condemned cremation, believing that the faithful should be buried, just as Jesus was buried in a tomb. Burial was viewed as a way to show reverence to the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit.
But even back in the 1900s, the Church allowed cremation when it was necessary. In 1963, Pope Paul VI officially lifted the ban on cremation, and it’s been allowed by the Catholic faith ever since. As of 2016, the official Catholic belief is that cremation is acceptable in all circumstances, and funeral rites and liturgy can be performed in the presence of cremated remains or over a body prior to cremation.
The most important thing is for cremated remains to be treated with the same reverence and respect as the corporal body. In other words, ashes should be kept together rather than being separated and scattered. Cremated remains should also be buried in a grave or placed in a columbarium niche or tomb rather than kept at the family’s home.
There are several benefits to cremation:
Cremation can be paired with all traditional Catholic funeral rites. The velorio can be held prior to cremation so that la familia can say goodbye in person. The funeral liturgy can be performed before cremation or in the presence of cremated remains. And the committal can take place when the urn is placed in a grave or niche.
Many Catholic churches have responded to an increased interest in cremation by building columbariums on parish grounds. Families may also choose to bury several urns in a single funeral plot as a way to keep family members together. Whether you choose direct cremation with a memorial service, or opt for cremation instead of burial after a full traditional funeral, it’s good to know that you have options and that those options are sanctioned by the Church.
Sabemos lo difícil que puede ser esto. The decision of whether to bury or cremate a loved one isn’t always a simple one, especially when you’re already dealing with grief. If you need help understanding your options, Latina is here for you. Call us at 1-303-996-0701 or visit us at 3020 Federal Boulevard.
As members of Denver’s Hispanic communities, we feel a deep responsibility to help its families through some of their most difficult days. We are here for you and your loved ones, and our staff is available to answer any questions you may have. Llámanos al (303) 996-0701.