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Daniel Easley wrote:

Hi, guys —

Hopefully someone here can answer my question. I haven't been able to find an answer anywhere online.

My dad, a non-Catholic, was cremated and his wishes were for his ashes to be scattered by airplane over his favorite place. Since his death, 15 years ago, I have converted to Catholicism.

We, as a family, have not spread his ashes yet due to financial reasons but now that I am a member of the Catholic Church, I have learned that a Catholic cannot have their ashes spread in the manner my father requested.

  • When the time comes and my mom decides to honor his wishes, would I be able to participate with a clear conscience or would I be going against the teachings of the Church?

Thank you,

Daniel

  { When my father's wishes are granted, will I be able to participate with a clear conscience? }

Mike replied:

Hi Daniel,

I searched our knowledge base and this was the only posting I found that dealt with the Church's stance on cremation:

Mike

John replied:

Hi Mike,

I think Daniel's question is slightly different.

Were I in his situation, the first thing I'd do is to share the Church's teaching on why the ashes shouldn't be scattered.

We are dealing with a pastoral provision here and not a doctrine issue. The dead person is not Catholic and, it appears, neither are the other family members, so Daniel's participation in this ceremony doesn't necessarily constitute a denial of the Resurrection.

I'd consider using this as a teaching opportunity for Daniel to share his faith. While Daniel, as a Catholic, has a canonical restriction which says he can't have his ashes scattered, I don't know of any restriction that would prevent him from attending a ceremony where his father's ashes are being scattered, so long as:

  • he has made his views known
  • is not directly involved in the process, and
  • the decision to go forward is, not his but, someone else's.

Someone may wish to check Canon Law on this.

John

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