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What to Think about Cremation?


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Dear TIA,

If you please, I need help in giving information to my mother who is planning on being cremated. I feel that she must not do this and would like to give her valid arguments as to why this is not a good thing.

I found one quote, but want something more extensive:

"On December 8, 1869, the International Congress of Freemasons imposed it as a duty on all its members to do all in their power to wipe out Catholicity from the face of the earth.

“Cremation was proposed as a suitable means to this end, since it was calculated to gradually undermine the faith of the people in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting" (Fr. John Laux, Catholic Morality (Imprimatur 1932 p. 106).


Thank you for your help

     Sincerely,

     P.J.

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TIA responds:

Dear P.J.,

A bit of Catholic doctrine on cremation

In synthesis, the Catholic Church has always taught against cremation for the following reasons:
  • Each one of us is an individual composed by body and soul, made in the image and likeness of God. Both body and soul are essentially united to reflect a particular facet of God.
  • The separation of body and soul is a violence that came as a consequence of original sin. It breaks that planned unity each one of us is called to reflect.
  • When a just man dies, his soul goes to Heaven and enjoys happiness. However, this happiness is incomplete until his body resurrects and joins his soul.
  • To allow the just man to live in Heaven without his body, God gives him a specific grace to compensate for that lack.
  • Therefore, the body that dies is very important. It must be resurrected in order to complete the image and likeness of God which that person represents.
  • Hence, we are taught to regard death as a sleep – the dead sleep in Christ (1 Cor 15:18), for they will rise again. When the body is committed to the earth, symbolically, we recall that it will germinate and spring up: “It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption” (1 Cor 15:42).
  • Acknowledging the dignity of the human body, the temple of the Holy Ghost, we reverently buried the body. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, on whom we model ourselves, was laid in the tomb and rose again.
  • For these reasons we Catholics are against cremation.
On the contrary, pagans defend cremation because:

  • They believe in reincarnation, that is, the soul that leaves the dead body returns to animate another being. When this being ends the soul returns to other beings again and again. Therefore, the body is a kind of shell that changes in every cycle of this process. So, for them, the body has no importance.
  • They believe in nothing after death, that is, they are materialists. For them everything ends with death. Therefore, it is pointless to pay respect to the body.
  • In both cases they disliked the sight of sepulchral monuments because they reminded them of death, which disturbs their earthly pleasures.
  • For these reasons pagans and Freemasons are favorable to cremation.
A bit of history on cremation

Among the ancient peoples, the Jews buried their dead. Holy Scripture speaks often of the burial of kings and prophets. That a corpse should be left unburied was a chastisement (Deut. 28:26). Only during times of pestilence were they allowed to burn individual corpses.

The Romans in earlier times also buried their dead, and the profanation of a tomb was severely punished. However, in later times, when their customs were corrupted by Greek influences, they began to practice cremation.

Cremation is linked to Paganism and Barbarism as observed in Spirago’s Catechism Explained: "All barbarous nations who in an uncivilized state burned their dead abandoned the funeral pyre and adopted the grave as soon as civilization shed its light in their land."

Christianity did, in fact, abolish cremation. St. Augustine denounced it as a barbarous practice that pagans used to deny the reality of the resurrection and mock Christianity. Charlemagne forbade the Saxons to cremate corpses.

It was only in the late 19th century that cremation returned to the scene in Europe, promoted by Freemasonry. In those days, when Paganism and Pantheism were on the rise, cremation once again became fashionable.

In the 20th century, the Church had fresh motives for insisting on the perpetuation of a Catholic burial and the exclusion of cremation. The Church made clear prohibitions on this matter. The 1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 1203, forbade cremation because it could cause scandal, and its introduction was devised and implemented by the Church's enemies.

The Code made it unlawful for anyone to order that his own remains or those of another be cremated. It was likewise unlawful to join any society whose object was to spread the practice of cremation. Nor was it allowed to cooperate in the cremation of a body. No Catholic who decided to be cremated could receive the last rites unless he reversed his decision. No one who left in his will the order to be cremated could be buried with the rites of the Church.

That is how things stood until May 8, 1963 when Paul VI revoked canon 1203. The reasons he gave for this act frontally contradict the previous teachings of the Church. Paul VI said cremation would be permitted provided that it would not reflect a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body. According to him, cremation would not destroy such faith, since regardless of whether we have a body or ashes, on Judgment Day God transforms that material into a man’s glorified body.

In general Catholics did not follow this novel decision, but continued to be guided by the previous guidelines. Paul VI’s innovation was generally considered to be a concession made to Freemasonry - among other enemies - that characterized the so-called Conciliar Revolution.

The general practice of the Church continues to follow the old custom of burying the bodies of the dead.

We hope this can be of assistance,

     Cordially,

     TIA correspondence desk

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