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Pope Francis walks through a cemetery in Rome in 2016 (CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)

The Vatican has upheld a rule mandating that the ashes of the deceased be preserved in a consecrated place, but it also said family members could request “a minimal part of the ashes” be kept in a sacred place of “significance for the history of the deceased person”. Source: CNS.

The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith also said a parish or diocese could establish “a defined and permanent sacred place” where the cremains of multiple people would be commingled and preserved together. 

The permission came in a “note” from the dicastery in response to a letter from Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna requesting clarification about the preservation of the ashes of the deceased after cremation. The Vatican published the note, signed by Cardinal Víctor Fernández, dicastery prefect, yesterday; it said it was approved by Pope Francis on December 9.

Referring to its 2016 instruction, Ad resurgendum cum Christo (To Rise with Christ), regarding the burial of the deceased and the conservation of the ashes in the case of cremation, the dicastery’s new note upheld its recommendation to preserve ashes in a special urn and to keep ashes “in a sacred place, such as a cemetery, or in an area dedicated to this purpose, provided that it has been so designated by the ecclesiastical authority.”

Therefore, the dicastery said, “a defined and permanent sacred place can be set aside for the commingled accumulation and preservation of the ashes of deceased baptised persons, indicating the identity of each person so as not to lose the memory of their names.”

In addition, it said, “the ecclesiastical authority … may consider and evaluate a request by a family to preserve in an appropriate way a minimal part of the ashes of their relative in a place of significance for the history of the deceased person.”


Vatican offers further guidance on handling cremains  (By Carol Glatz, CNS via USCCB)


Vatican upholds ban on scattering ashes, okays preservation in ‘sacred’ places (Crux)

Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith responds to questions about cremation (Vatican News)