Local Catholic community reacts to Vatican’s guidelines on cremation

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- The Vatican recently reinforced the Church’s stance on cremation.

A two-page documents states the faithful should not scatter ashes or split them up.

Father Peter Drilling, the Rector at Saint Joseph Cathedral in Buffalo, told News 4 it’s all about treating the body with respect.

“We don’t want it to be used as sort of a curio,” he said.

The Church first gave the the green light for cremation in 1963; before then, it was wasn’t allowed.

“In the 18th century the Church was opposed to that because there were certain people who were cremating as a way of saying they didn’t believe in an afterlife,” Father Drilling told us.

Carmen Colao is the Director of Cemeteries for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. He said there’s been a noticeable spike in the number of cremations done since he began his career.

“It’s actually doubled in the last 26 years.”

Cremation is roughly half the cost of a traditional burial, something Colao believes is a contributing factor to it’s growing popularity.

News 4 asked local Catholics their thoughts on cremation,

“I think it’s personal preference, it’s whatever that person wants before they die. They’re all going to the same place,” said Maria Desanto after Thursday Mass at Saint Joseph.

The Vatican doesn’t want urns sitting just anywhere; they’re to be kept in a sacred place, like a mausoleum.

The guidelines don’t totally eliminate your mantel, Father Drilling said, as long as ashes are kept in a way that honors the body and accepts the afterlife; this means no key-chains or charm bracelets.

“In many cases, families for whatever reason, or varying reasons, are not bringing those cremated remains to the cemetery,” Colao said.

He feels the Vatican’s recent announcement comes in good timing, to remind Catholic’s of the importance of proper cremation.

The Church still prefers traditional burial over cremation.

Colao anticipates that cremation will continue to rise in popularity in Western New York. Aside from saving families money, he said cemeteries could also stand to benefit from this, because cremation is a practice that takes up less space.

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