“Those who make an offer of eternal life to a person who has gone out of life, that person is in the state of grace and the state of grace is an invitation, therefore, for them to accept it or for them not to and it’s up to them.” —Pope Francis: The Gospel of Life on Sunday, February 9, 2016.
How does the Catholic Church respond?
In the United States, the Catholic Church teaches that the value of life is not relative, that we are all in Christ’s likeness, and that our life is sacred by reason of our union in Christ Jesus, and the dignity of our person and the sacredness of our bodies. But, again, if there is a Catholic bishop who feels that his or her religious convictions are in conflict, then the bishop’s religious convictions do have a real force and impact. As we have said, we believe that every person must be free to accept the mercy and grace of God without any judgment of sin and without the exclusion of any person who chooses not to accept mercy and grace.
How can I find out more about Catholic Church teachings about cremation?
In The Church’s Position on Cremation in Holy Tradition, A Dictionary of Catholic Dogmas, compiled by Fr. John W. Loftus and F.J. McFarland, we find the following:
According to the early Church fathers, the use of cremation in the Catholic Church would first be limited to families who had been involved with suffering or death, for example during the Great Pox, a plague which afflicted Europe’s middle Christians of the fourth and fifth centuries; those who wished to give more space to their loved ones would have to make an exception for cremation rather than for burial.
The Church did not allow the use of cremation during the “cremation wars” against Protestant sects of the fourth century and onwards, but permitted its use if it was done in accordance with the tenets of the Church.
In 1544, Pope Innocent III ordered the Church to reevaluate the matter of cremation. At the end of his reign, Innocent was killed in a duel and his successor was forced to make a new decision. In 1555, Pope Clement IX wrote to Pope Urban VI. They expressed the great interest in the Catholic Church’s stance on the topic of cremation. Clement IX and Urban VI concluded that the Church should continue to affirm its previous position; it was only the Catholic Church’s stance on cremation that
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