If I do choose cremation, what steps should I take next?

Choosing cremation is permissible within the Catholic Church, provided full reverence for the body is preserved and the remains are kept together and laid to rest in a sacred space.

The Catholic Church permits cremation but still recommends traditional burial. If you do choose cremation for yourself or a loved one, there are a few factors to keep in mind.

First, cremation is allowable provided full reverence for the remains is maintained, including after the ashes are placed in an urn. Cremated remains—also called cremains—must always be handled with the utmost care and respect. The remains are to be kept together, not scattered or distributed in any way, and placed in a sacred space.

“We can do cremation, but we should do it with full honor and respect of our loved one.”

Ideally, the funeral Mass should occur before cremation so that the full body may be present during the liturgy. This means the inurnment or placing the urn into a niche or similar location, happens several days later. Some circumstances make this scenario impractical. For instance, out-of-town relatives may not be able to stay multiple days between the funeral Mass and the inurnment.

If it’s not possible to celebrate the funeral first, the Church allows cremation prior to the funeral Mass. However, the funeral rite is different when cremated remains are present rather than the full body. We encourage you to pray about the decision and ask your parish priest for further guidance.