Catholic Cremation rule changes show similarities, differences with paganism

Catholic Cremation rule changes show similarities, differences with paganism

catholic cremation

The “Peace Anvil” in Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans. This is a mausoleum designed with niches to hold cremains. (Infrogmation photo)

Rules for Catholic Cremation

Catholic cremation traditions have been changed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Vatican now requires the faithful inter cremains in Catholic cemeteries. The new rules prohibit keeping cremains at home, or scattering the ashes. The rationale behind the new policy is interesting:

“Furthermore, in order to avoid any form of pantheistic or naturalistic or nihilistic misunderstanding, the dispersion of ashes in the air, on the ground, on water or in some other way as well as the conversion of cremated ashes into commemorative objects is not allowed.”

Takeaways on the changes

While this has no real impact on anyone other than practicing Catholics, there are three interesting takeaways for the Wicca:

  • Many Catholics will ignore these rules. Therefore, they’ll look at this as a guideline. If a family keeps Grandpa Joe on the shelf in the living room, they’re not changing this. Same goes for loved ones alive now. We talk about Wicca being a loosely-organized religion. Even though Catholics have more structure, many disregard what the leaders say.
  • Catholics are more pagan than many will admit. Take burial at sea, for example. These days, it usually means scattering ashes water. Spreading cremains around the deceased’s favorite tree in the park, or some other beloved location are common occurrences. The Wicca and other pagan traditions should take note of these acts by Christians and remember that we do have much in common.
  • If Catholics do follow the policies set by The Vatican, this will bring in more money for Catholic cemeteries. In cities like New Orleans, this will be helpful, in terms of historic preservation.

Support family and friends

I’m a big believer in supporting the spiritual choices of friends. If Catholic friends decide to inter their loved ones in a cemetery, I’ll be there. If they want to take them down to the river on Carnival Day, I’m OK with that, too. So, we need to take care of each other.