The ashes of cremated Catholics must be buried and should not be scattered on land, at sea or be kept at home, the Vatican has announced in new guidelines.
The instruction, published in the lead-up to All Hallows’ Day which honours the dead, says that “new ideas contrary to the Church’s faith have become widespread”.
“Following the most ancient Christian tradition, the Church insistently recommends that the bodies of the deceased be buried in cemeteries or other sacred places,” the instruction from the Congregation For The Doctors of the Faith said.
Only in “grave and exceptional cases” would the ashes be permitted to be kept in a home, the Church said.
“It is not permitted to scatter the ashes of the faithful departed in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewellery or other objects,” it said.
The Church, which allowed cremation of its followers in 1963, said burial was the best way for someone to honour their faith in death and encouraged families and the whole Christian community to pray and remember the dead.
They also said they should deny a Christian funeral to a person who requested their ashes be scattered for reasons unrelated to their faith.
The Church said Pope Francis had approved the guidelines.
Cremations popular but accidents happen
According to 2011 Census data, 25 per cent of Australians identified as Catholic.
Research commissioned by the Australian Funeral Directors Association in 2014 said two out of three people preferred cremation over burial when planning their own funeral.
While he is not Catholic, one man who has scattered plenty of ashes in his time is Albury’s Anglican Archdeacon Father Peter Macleod-Miller.
“I have spread ashes in the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne and on farms and off St Kilda pier on a windy day,” he said in an email to ABC News Breakfast.
“Once when I was going to inter some ashes, the cheesed-off daughter-in-law got to them first and flushed her father-in-law’s ashes down the loo.
“My own dad’s ashes were in his shed and accidentally went in the skip when mum had a clear out.”