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160 • Part I. The Creed: The Faith Professed

washed with baptismal water, anointed with the oils of Confirmation

and the Sacrament of the Sick, and nourished by the Eucharist.

The Church prefers the burial of the body but does allow cremation.

“The Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate

a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body” (CCC, no. 2301). In

cases where cremation is planned, the Church urges that if at all pos-

sible, the body be present for the funeral Mass with cremation taking

place afterwards. However, if for some reason cremation takes place

before the funeral Mass, the diocesan bishop can permit the practice in

his diocese of allowing cremated remains to be brought into the Church

for the funeral rites.


Whenever a Catholic is cremated, the remains are

to be buried, not scattered.


1. What experiences have you had that bring you to think about death?

How does the Church’s teachings about eternal life help shape your

thinking about death?

2. When you read the New Testament teachings about the Last

Judgment, such as in the parable of the sheep and goats (Mt 25:31-

46), what impact does this have on you? What does the Church

teach about Purgatory? Why do we pray for the dead?

3. Why is the resurrection of our bodies important? In speaking of

heaven or hell, why do we explain them in terms of our relationship

with God?


• The Communion of Saints includes the faithful on earth, the souls

in Purgatory, and the blessed in heaven. In this Communion, the

12 On March 21, 1997, in response to a request from the then-National Conference

of Catholic Bishops, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the

Sacraments published an indult (Prot. 1589/96/L) giving to each diocesan bishop in the

United States the right to allow for the presence of the cremated remains of a body at

the full course of Catholic funeral rites.