Can Catholics be cremated?

Yes, the Catholic Church permits cremation, but full-body earth burials are still preferred.

The Catholic Church has permitted cremation since the Second Vatican Council, though the strong preference remains full-body burials. Cremation is permissible in situations of limited burial space, inadequate finances, or similar concerns. The deceased person’s cremated remains—also called cremains—must be placed in sacred ground, not scattered, made into jewelry, distributed among relatives, or dispersed in any way.

“Cremation can oftentimes lead people to ‘short-circuit’ the Order of Christian Funerals and the profound healing that comes through that process.”

The Church advises against cremation, not because she wants to inhibit our agency, but because she desires greater freedom for us. A full-body earth burial allows for a final goodbye in a way that storing cremains in an urn on the mantle, for instance, does not. We must not fast-forward through grief, but neither should we delay the healing process. Like the Ten Commandments, the laws of the Lord given through the Church are always ordered for our good and happiness.