by Bishop José Luis IMC
The year 2018 saw the end of the renovations of our “Little Flower” chapel which we started in November 2017. Our beautiful chapel is now 90 years’ old and looks beautiful.
In the Catholic Church, we respect the ashes of those who have been cremated in the same way we do when we bury their bodies.
Next to the chapel, though, something new has been added: a wall of remembrance. It is the first in our diocese! Around the statue of Our Lady, a place for the conservation of ashes of our deceased brothers and sisters has been built.
“When, for legitimate motives, cremation of the body has been chosen, the ashes of the faithful must be laid to rest in a sacred place, that is, in a cemetery or, in certain cases, in a church or an area, which has been set aside for this purpose, and so dedicated by the competent ecclesial authority.”
I am grateful to the community of Our Lady of Assumption (Cathedral) who presented this need to me a few years’ ago. Grateful also to Fr Joseph Nguyen SDB and all those who helped us make the place a prayerful and beautiful place.
Those in our diocese wishing to place ashes of a Catholic relative at “Our Lady of Hope, Wall of remembrance” should contact Fr Sakhile Peter Ndwandwe at the Diocesan Chancery.
Eternal rest grant them O Lord…
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Instruction Ad resurgendum cum Christo regarding the burial of the deceased
and the conservation of the ashes in the case of cremation
Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning. The Christian vision of death receives privileged expression in the liturgy of the Church: “Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended, and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven”.
Following the most ancient Christian tradition, the Church insistently recommends that the bodies of the deceased be buried in cemeteries or other sacred places.
In memory of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord, the mystery that illumines the Christian meaning of death, burial is above all the most fitting way to express faith and hope in the resurrection of the body.
The Church who, as Mother, has accompanied the Christian during his earthly pilgrimage, offers to the Father, in Christ, the child of her grace, and she commits to the earth, in hope, the seed of the body that will rise in glory.
When, for legitimate motives, cremation of the body has been chosen, the ashes of the faithful must be laid to rest in a sacred place, that is, in a cemetery or, in certain cases, in a church or an area, which has been set aside for this purpose, and so dedicated by the competent ecclesial authority.
The reservation of the ashes of the departed in a sacred place ensures that they are not excluded from the prayers and remembrance of their family or the Christian community. It prevents the faithful departed from being forgotten, or their remains from being shown a lack of respect, which eventuality is possible, most especially once the immediately subsequent generation has too passed away. Also it prevents any unfitting or superstitious practices.
For the reasons given above, the conservation of the ashes of the departed in a domestic residence is not permitted. Only in grave and exceptional cases dependent on cultural conditions of a localised nature, may the Ordinary, in agreement with the Episcopal Conference or the Synod of Bishops of the Oriental Churches, concede permission for the conservation of the ashes of the departed in a domestic residence. Nonetheless, the ashes may not be divided among various family members and due respect must be maintained regarding the circumstances of such a conservation.
In order that every appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism be avoided, it is not permitted to scatter the ashes of the faithful departed in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewellery or other objects. These courses of action cannot be legitimised by an appeal to the sanitary, social, or economic motives that may have occasioned the choice of cremation.
Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 15 August 2016, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Gerhard Card. Müller, Prefect + Luis F. Ladaria, S.I.