Crematoriums were built and used for long-term cremation prior to the publication of the book The Catholic Church and the Great Mortuary Mystery in 1983. Today’s facilities are designed to prevent the spread of disease, to prevent the release of carbon monoxide into the surrounding area, and to protect the integrity of the body. The use of crematoriums is a Catholic practice. The Church’s position is that all of the Christian traditions contain instructions for those who take the opportunity to die in a traditional manner (such as cremation or burial) to respect life and dignity by using modern technology instead of cremation. It is a common misconception that all Catholics are cremationists. The Catholic Church is a monolithic organization with many different schools of thought, as Catholics are not monolithic and many Catholics have different views. The basic point about the Catholic Church’s stance on cremation is the following: (1) the Church does not support cremation; (2) all Church teachings on the sanctification of all life apply to all human beings irrespective of whether they die in accordance with a Catholic or non-Catholic spiritual tradition; and (3) to the extent that people use a machine to dispose of a human body, including cremation, that is an act of sacrilege and the Church takes the necessary steps to prevent its use. The Catholic Church has stated in a number of statements that cremation is not a viable option due to the fact that the human body decomposes quickly, and because the human body cannot be preserved for human beings in any natural manner. It must be placed in a grave by a responsible individual who knows it is there and who has the authority to take certain actions to preserve and protect the body. To ensure the dignity of all human beings, the Catholic Church promotes the use of the most natural methods of disposal of human remains. For information on the Church position on cremation, please see Catholic Contemplative Action: Contemplative Action for the Dignity of Human Beings. Also see Our Dignity.
Is the use of cremation allowed in the Catholic Church?
Cremation is not allowed by the Catholic Church. It is a matter of Catholic teaching. The Catholic Church encourages individuals to use the best available alternatives, including the use of cremation. Cremation is not an acceptable option in the Church’s view, for there are too many known risks. The Catholic Church teaches that death is a natural and beautiful death, and that we must remember that death is never
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