The Guardian, Comment is Free: The Vatican may protest, but traditional funerals are dead and buried

A new decree forbids Catholics to scatter ashes, and insists on the sanctity of the cemetery. But in terms of burial options, the Vatican are way behind the times

Just in time for the prayers for the dead on All Souls’ Day next Wednesday, the Vatican has restated its position on what can be done with the ashes of the faithful. In short, no longer can Auntie be kept in a mantelpiece urn or grandad’s ashes scattered on his local team’s football pitch.

Concerned about the adoption of “new ideas contrary to the church’s faith” suggestive of “pantheism, naturalism or nihilism”, the Vatican document conflates ashes-scattering with a dangerously new age spirituality, stipulating instead that remains should be kept tangibly in a sacred place. The Catholic belief in bodily resurrection at the end of days makes this position unsurprising, and the church clearly has a vested interest in discouraging casual rituals outside their control, but it’s a proscription that doesn’t sit well with current trends in the UK. The Vatican may face a harder battle against creeping modernism in the matter of burial and funeral practices than they bargained for…

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