In 1997 the Holy See granted permission to U.S. bishops to allow funeral Masses in the presence of cremated remains. We believe that the deceased’s body passes from our sight but never from God’s.
Theologically, cremation is not a new invention and does not discount our understanding of the resurrection and life everlasting. Since there is little difference between the remains of one who has been buried and one who has been cremated, there is no reason to favor one over the other from a theological point of view.
According to the Bible, at the resurrection we are given a “new body,” which also means that we will still be our own unique, individual selves. The decision whether to bury or cremate is one that must be made with sensitivity toward all members of the family and their feelings. Many people have become generally comfortable with the fact that they will die at some point. They would prefer that that “point” be far off in the distance, but they know that it will eventually come.
Whatever burial method or location we may choose, we understand that the gift of eternal life is assured to all who believe. At St. Matthew, we have created a final resting place to entrust those we love to the presence and love of God.
In general, the Church provides that a person’s body be buried in a grave or tomb and, in exceptional circumstances, at sea (Order of Christian Funerals, no. 204). The Church provides that the cremated remains of bodies also be treated with proper reverence:
The remains of cremated bodies should be treated with the same respect given to the corporeal remains of a human body. This includes the manner in which they are carried, the care and attention to appropriate placement and transport, and the final disposition. The cremated remains of a body should be entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium; they may also be buried in a common grave in a cemetery. The practices of scattering cremated remains on the sea, from the air, or on the ground, or keeping the cremated remains in the home of a relative or friend of the deceased are not the reverent disposition that the Church requires (U.S. Appendix to the Order of Christian Funerals, no. 417).