No, the Catholic Church does not have an official position on cremation.
Why does the Catholic Church reject cremation?
In the beginning, the Church rejected cremation because it would have upset the natural order — it would have upset the divine ordering of all that God had done for us all through Jesus and all through the death of Jesus: burial, and rising, and the Holy Spirit.
Did the Church ever come to an official position?
The Church never formally endorsed cremation because it did not have the authority to do so. Nevertheless, the Church is a witness to its faithful, and the teachings of the Catholic Church are the same for people of whatever creed—Christian, Jewish, Muslim—or they are different for different people. So the Catholic Church has the same teaching on this matter as any other religion, as long as it conforms to Catholic doctrine. The teaching of the Catholic Church on cremation is not changed by its changing opinion on other issues.
So you still say “No, the Catholic Church does not condone cremation” right?
I think that every Catholic who has any concern, any doubt whether or not they are in a state where they should be cremated is a Christian, and it should be their solemn duty to be cremated before they have any doubts about whether they are in this state or in some other. I think they can say that it is their solemn duty to be cremated before they have any doubt. In that sense, no Catholic can make a different decision, because in my opinion there is no other decision, except what the teachings of the Church are on this matter, which is not changed by opinion.
What difference does it make for a Catholic to live or die at home?
I do not think that this has any impact on people’s faith or whether or not they would prefer to burn their bodies in the Church crematory, but they certainly have to be very careful that they do not become a public spectacle or a cause for scandal. I believe that it is better to do this in a private setting than it is to just take a car and drive there and be seen, because then the person who was being a public character would have the right of publicity in their own eyes, and the person who was being a private character would be less famous in the eyes of the public. So it is better to stay at home and make sure that what is going on in one’s own heart is never known or seen.
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