BASIC FACTS ABOUT CREMATION & THE CATHOLIC CHURCH FOR YOU OR YOUR FAMILY
If you are considering cremation, it is important to know what is involved and what your choices are. You will then be able to make a meaningful decision that is right for you and your family.
All four of your Catholic Cemeteries, owned and operated by the Diocese of Orange, offer the option of traditional ground burial or burial in pre-installed lawn crypts or placement in a niche structure called a “columbarium” constructed for that purpose. Please contact one of the four cemeteries and speak to a Family Service Counselor for answers to any specific questions.
Q: AS A CATHOLIC, MAY I BE CREMATED?
A: Yes. In May, 1963, the Vatican lifted the prohibition forbidding Catholics to choose cremation.
Q: DO I NEED TO ASK PERMISSION TO BE CREMATED?
A: No, but it is a good idea to discuss your reasons with your pastor or other parish minister.
Q: WHAT IS CREMATION?
A: The body is enclosed in an acceptable rigid container or casket and is placed in the cremation chamber. Through heat and evaporation, the body is reduced to its basic elements which are referred to as cremated remains. The cremated remains are placed in a permanent container or urn. An urn serves the same purpose after cremation that a casket does with burial. A final resting place may then be selected for the urn.
Q: WHEN SHOULD CREMATION TAKE PLACE?
A: The Church prefers that the body be present for the full funeral liturgy and the cremation to take place after the liturgy. However, if it is not possible for the body to be present at the Funeral Mass, having the cremated remains present at the Funeral Mass is acceptable.
Q: WHAT FUNERAL RITES ARE CELEBRATED WHEN A PERSON IS CREMATED?
A: All the usual rites which are celebrated with the body present may also be celebrated in the presence of the cremated remains. The rituals that may be celebrated are: prayers after death, gathering in the presence of the body, vigil for the deceased, Funeral Mass, Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass, and the Rite of Committal. During the liturgies, the cremated remains are treated with the same dignity and respect traditionally afforded the full body in a casket.
Q: IS IT NECESSARY TO EMBALM?
A: When the vigil and Funeral Liturgy are to be scheduled prior to cremation, embalming of the body may be preferred, especially if there is to be an open casket. If all three liturgical rites are to follow soon after death, embalming is generally not necessary, especially if there is to be a closed casket.
Q: IS IT NECESSARY TO PURCHASE A CASKET?
A: No. The only thing required is a simple container in which the body can be transported and placed in the cremation chamber. If you choose to have the body present for Mass, with cremation to follow, an inexpensive casket or even a rental casket are options.
Q: MAY I SCATTER THE CREMATED REMAINS?
A: No. The practice of scattering on the sea, from the air, or on the ground, or keeping cremated remains in the home is not the reverent disposition that the Church requires.
Q: MAY I BURY THE CREMATED REMAINS AT SEA?
A: Yes. Burial at sea differs from scattering. An appropriate container, heavy enough to be sent to its final resting place, may be dropped into the sea. The Church requires the placement of cremated remains in a container that sinks to the bottom of the sea and does not release the remains in such a way as to be scattered across the surface. State and local jurisdictions may limit burial at sea. Families are advised to ensure that disposition does not violate the law.
Q: WHAT IS A FINAL RESTING PLACE?
A: A final resting place for cremated remains is in a Catholic Cemetery or Mausoleum. Catholic Cemeteries provide cremation graves for the interment of cremated remains, or the urn can be buried in a family plot. The urn may also be placed in a Mausoleum niche space. Some niche spaces provide a shelf for the urn where it may be viewed through protective glass. Other niche spaces provide a shelf for the urn that is placed behind a memorial plaque.
Q: WHAT COSTS ARE INVOLVED IN ARRANGING FOR CREMATION?
A: Our cemeteries do not provide the actual cremation service; that is handled by an independent mortuary, funeral home, or cremation society.
If you are considering placing the cremated remains in a columbarium, you will need to consider the cost of the urn, niche space, type of memorialization, and the entombment fee.
If you are considering placing the cremated remains in the ground, your arrangements will include the cost of the urn, urn vault, interment space, type of memorialization and interment fee.
Q: IS IT ADVISABLE TO ARRANGE FOR CREMATION FINAL DISPOSITION OF YOUR CREMATED REMAINS IN ADVANCE OF NEED?
A: Yes. The subject of cremation should be resolved among family members since that determination will have to be made at the time of death. The family should consult with their priest and a Diocese of Orange Catholic Cemeteries Family Services Counselor to decide what is best.