160 • Part I. The Creed: The Faith Professed
washed with baptismal water, anointed with the oils of Confirmation
and the Sacrament of the Sick, and nourished by the Eucharist.
The Church prefers the burial of the body but does allow cremation.
“The Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate
a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body” (CCC, no. 2301). In
cases where cremation is planned, the Church urges that if at all pos-
sible, the body be present for the funeral Mass with cremation taking
place afterwards. However, if for some reason cremation takes place
before the funeral Mass, the diocesan bishop can permit the practice in
his diocese of allowing cremated remains to be brought into the Church
for the funeral rites.
Whenever a Catholic is cremated, the remains are
to be buried, not scattered.
1. What experiences have you had that bring you to think about death?
How does the Church’s teachings about eternal life help shape your
thinking about death?
2. When you read the New Testament teachings about the Last
Judgment, such as in the parable of the sheep and goats (Mt 25:31-
46), what impact does this have on you? What does the Church
teach about Purgatory? Why do we pray for the dead?
3. Why is the resurrection of our bodies important? In speaking of
heaven or hell, why do we explain them in terms of our relationship
• The Communion of Saints includes the faithful on earth, the souls
in Purgatory, and the blessed in heaven. In this Communion, the
12 On March 21, 1997, in response to a request from the then-National Conference
of Catholic Bishops, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the
Sacraments published an indult (Prot. 1589/96/L) giving to each diocesan bishop in the
United States the right to allow for the presence of the cremated remains of a body at
the full course of Catholic funeral rites.