Guidance on burials and conserving ashes in the case of cremation

Waverley Cemetery, Bronte, Sydney

Waverley Cemetery, Bronte, Sydney

The Australian Catholic Bishops welcome a new document from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published today, 25 October 2016, regarding burying the deceased and conserving ashes when cremation is chosen.

Titled, ‘Ad resurgendum cum Christo’ meaning ‘To rise with Christ’, the document provides details about the doctrinal and pastoral reasons for choosing a burial. It also explains what is appropriate when conserving ashes in the case of cremation.

The Congregation highlighted that the contents of the document, ‘To rise with Christ’, are intended as a point of reference for the Church.

Archbishop Denis Hart, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said, “The new instruction, ‘To rise with Christ’, affirms what the Church has always held with regard to cremation, reverence for the human remains in the body or in the ashes and the following burial”.

Key points in the newly published document include:

  • States the Church’s preference for burial of the remains of the faithful
  • Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning. The Christian vision of death receives privileged expression in the liturgy of the Church: ‘Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended, and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven’.
  • Following Christian tradition, the Church recommends that the bodies of the deceased be buried in cemeteries or other sacred places
  • Burial is above all the most fitting way to express faith and hope in the resurrection of the body
  • By burying the bodies of the faithful, the Church confirms her faith in the resurrection of the body, and intends to show the great dignity of the human body as an integral part of the human person whose body forms part of their identity
  • Through the practice of burying the dead in cemeteries, in dedicated spaces within church buildings or their environs, Christian tradition has upheld the relationship between the living and the dead and has opposed any tendency to minimise, or relegate to the private sphere, the event of death and the meaning it has for Christians
  • The Church raises no doctrinal objections to the practice of cremation
  • The ashes of the faithful must be laid to rest in a sacred place, that is, in a cemetery or in dedicated spaces within church buildings or their environs
  • This ensures they are not excluded from the prayers and remembrance of their family or the Christian community
  • Conservation of the ashes in a private residence is not permitted
  • Out of respect for the integrity and sacredness of both body and ashes, scattering or dividing ashes among family members is not favoured

Media queries, please contact Aoife Connors on 0450 348 597 or

Note for journalists: The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith promotes and explains the theology that underpins different aspects of the life of the Church

“No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed”

Bishop Michael Kennedy with Aussie pilgrims during World Youth Day, 2016.

Bishop Michael Kennedy with Aussie pilgrims during World Youth Day, 2016.

“No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed.” (325) This, I believe, was one of Pope Francis’ key messages in his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, The Joy of Love. It’s also one of the reasons the Catholic Bishops of Australia are calling all the faithful to a month of prayer and fasting for marriage and families during the month of October, and why many other Christians are joining in this effort too. Happy families require effort; happy families need prayer.

You see the Pope and the whole Church continue to present the beauty and perfection of God’s plan for marriage and family as a community of life and love that reflects the very life and love of God himself in the Blessed Trinity. But we also know that the everyday lives of families can be rather messy affairs. You don’t need me, or anybody for that matter, to name all the things that can make our family life bumpy and difficult. Each of us just has to think of our own family situation! Continue reading

Fr Bedi Asmon SVD using music for mission in Brazil

Fr Bedi Asmon SVD using music for mission at Brazil's Evangeliza Feira.

Fr Bedi Asmon SVD using music for mission at Brazil’s Evangeliza Feira.

Fr Bernadinus (Bedi) Asmon SVD, a young missionary from Indonesia, who undertook his formation in Australia, is now living and ministering in Brazil where he has discovered that music is the common language with the people he serves.

Fr Bedi, who spent five years studying in Australia, before his final vows and ordination in 2014, has been in Brazil since March 2015.

In that time, he has lived in a few different communities, including some very poor regions, and he is now busy learning Portuguese and working in a parish in the city of Feira de Santana, the second biggest city in the state of Bahia.

“The death rate here due to violence is very high, around 5-8 people per week, and many of the victims are young people,” he says. Continue reading

Diocesan Youth Ministry Coordinators gather as a community

youth-ministers_200The Australian Network of Diocesan Youth Ministry Coordinators (ANDYMC) was established in 1998 to support and advocate for the specific needs of Diocesan Youth Ministry and those ministering within it. Close to 20 years later the network works throughout the year to share ideas, resources and formation opportunities with its members.

Once a year ANDYMC gathers as a community specifically to share our joys and challenges of youth ministry, to collaborate on fresh initiatives and participate in professional development. Continue reading

It Is Time To Bring Them Here

bigstock-refugees-103545785_200 One of the greatest crises of our day is the plight of people forced from their own countries by war, persecution or poverty and forced to live without a home, without safety and often separated from their families, Archbishop Denis Hart, President, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said today (13 October 2016).

Pope Francis has called on Catholics to welcome such vulnerable people as our brothers and sisters. In Australia, we do not have to directly meet the responsibilities that many other nations bear. But we do bear the shame of the expulsion and harsh treatment of the people who sought our protection only to be detained on Nauru and Manus Island.

International agencies have been appalled by the conditions under which they live and the effects on their health, spirits and self-respect. Pope Francis, to whom people detained on Manus Island have written, has also expressed his deep concern. The human costs on the detainees are mounting by the day.

The Australian Catholic Bishops also deplore the detention of our brothers and sisters on Nauru and Manus Island. While recognising the effort of the Government to find a solution, we say that enough is enough. We call on the Government to bring offshore detainees to Australia while awaiting further decisions on their future. Continue reading

Anglican and Roman Catholic Dialogue flourishes during Canterbury-Rome Pilgrimage

Bishop delegates for Australia, Catholic Archbishop Christopher Prowse, with Anglican Bishop of Wangaratta, John Parkes. Joint letter by Archbishop Christopher Prowse, Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn and Bishop John Parkes, Anglican Bishop of Wangaratta (pictured on the left).

Representing the Anglican and Roman Catholic communities of Australia, we have returned recently from our anniversary pilgrimage in Canterbury (England) and Rome (Italy). It has been 50 years now since Archbishop Michael Ramsay and Pope Paul VI met to begin formally, the worldwide Anglican/Roman Catholic ecumenical dialogue.

Together with 38 Anglican and Catholic Bishops from 19 countries, we reviewed the progress on the pilgrimage to unity so far. The mood has changed from optimism that organic unity was imminent, to a more realistic assessment. Serious obstacles have arisen on matters pertaining to the ordination of women, and human sexuality. Friendships between our communities have continued to mature in the midst of these complex issues. Continue reading

23rd Annual International Law & Religion Symposium discussing Religious Rights in a Pluralistic World

religious-freedom-imageAddress delivered on 4th October 2016 at the Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA on the conference theme: Religious Rights in a Pluralistic World

Firstly, thanks very much to Brigham Young University for organising this wonderful conference and for bringing us all together.

Australia is a pluralist society. We are blessed with freedom, a stable system of government and a rich mix of ethnic, racial and religious groups. But inherent in a pluralist society are different views and beliefs and the challenge of how to accommodate those different perspectives.

The Catholic Church in Australia is an established part of the community, with a quarter of Australians identifying as Catholic, with one in five Australian students attending Catholic schools and Catholic hospitals providing about ten percent of healthcare services across the nation. Continue reading

Finding compassion through the lens of Mercy

screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-9-04-35-am_200Archbishop Mark Coleridge, speaking at Australia’s largest Catholic eConference this week, said the time of Christendom is over, and the Catholic Church must recognise its real credential is in Mercy.

Calling for Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy to be enacted as a verb, Archbishop Coleridge said the Pope’s vision gives birth to action within the Church and across the global community.

“When I speak about the covenant of God, it is a community of Mercy in a merciless world. Find the hungry one, the thirsty one, the naked one, the sick one, the one who is infinitely strange and the one who is seemingly imprisoned by the power of death. Look at the Crucified and understand what you see,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

Captivating the eConference audience for over 4 hours, Archbishop Coleridge, along with renowned Catholic scholar, Sr Veronica Lawson and, President of the Refugee Council of Australia, Mr Phil Glendenning spoke compellingly about the plight of the 65 million people displaced around the world. Continue reading

Bishop Long welcomes government commitment towards refugees

bigstock-125710307_200The announcement by Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, at the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees in New York that Australia will maintain its humanitarian refugee intake at 18,750 from mid-2018 is to be welcomed, Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen ofm conv said today.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, who also attended the summit, reminded those present that, ‘The primary cause of today’s refugee and migrant crisis is man-made: namely, wars and conflicts’, the Bishops Delegate for Migrants and Refugees said.

‘The solution to the refugee crisis is not simply accepting refugees who are fleeing their country, but promoting peace in their homes so that they do not have to leave in the first place.’

‘To this end, we are encouraged by the Prime Minister’s pledge in providing an additional 130 million dollars in support of peace building and assistance to refugees.’

‘Australia, which has had a long tradition of welcoming and resettling refugees throughout its history, can be more generous and humane towards asylum seekers and refugees.’ Continue reading

Ms Michele Castagna OAM, Rest in Peace

Michele Castagna

Michele Castagna

Ms Michele Castagna OAM died peacefully on Saturday morning, 17 September 2016, in the presence of her family at home in Alice Springs. 

Michele was appointed Chairperson of the Australian Catholic Disability Council in 2006 and worked tirelessly in the role promoting the full participation of people with disability and their families. Michele guided the Council with wisdom and tenacity until she stepped down in 2015.

Serving on the Council for 14 years, Michele had over twenty years practical experience and knowledge in community work, community development and service delivery, including fifteen years working in the area of multiculturalism.

Always an active member of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart parish in Alice Springs. Michele was a member of the choir and other ministries within the parish. Due to Michele’s advocacy within the parish, it became an accessible place of worship.

We pray for the repose of her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God. May she rest in peace. Amen. Continue reading

Pope Francis calls for a Day of Prayer for Peace

day-of-prayer-for-peace20-september-2016_200On Tuesday 20 September next, Pope Francis has called for the observance of a ‘Day of Prayer for Peace’. The day of prayer coincides with the Holy Father’s visit to Assisi, Italy on 20 September. The day will centre around the theme, ‘Thirst for peace: faiths and cultures in dialogue’.

Representatives from different religions will meet the Holy Father upon arrival in Assisi including, His Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople; a Muslim representative; His Grace Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Centerbury; the Syro-Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; a Jewish representative; and the supreme Head of the Tendai (Buddhists), Japan.

The representatives will join Pope Francis for lunch with a number of victims of war.

The moment of prayer for peace will take place at 4 p.m (Rome time) in the lower Basilica of St. Francis’ Church. There will be an ecumenical prayer for Christians in the presence of representatives from other religions. All of the participants will gather at St. Francis’ Square for a closing ceremony.  Continue reading

Finding the Silver Bullet for Evangelisation

Bishop Nicholas Hudson

Bishop Nicholas Hudson

Interview with Bishop Nicholas Hudson, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, on Friday 2 September during the Proclaim 2016, national conference on evangelisation.

‘Are you going to give us a silver bullet for evangelisation?’ Bishop Nicholas Hudson, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, was asked on the journey from Sydney airport to the Diocese of Broken Bay for the Proclaim 2016, national conference on evangelisation.

He quickly responded, ‘there is no silver bullet, it’s going to be different in every parish and every local community’. Interestingly, the question stayed with him and ‘I’ve found myself thinking, there is one silver bullet and that is to just start doing it’.

‘Sometimes there is scope for reflection and being strategic that’s the reason why we are all gathered here for Proclaim 2016. We know that Pope Francis has a vision and there is a phrase, “Vision without strategy is hallucination”. That is how Pope Francis sees it and when he says that he dreams of a missionary option for the Church, what he means is that we need to do a lot of rethinking.

Bishop Comensoli leading morning prayer during Proclaim 2016

Bishop Comensoli leads morning prayer during Proclaim 2016

‘We need to rethink our strategies, our methods and our structures in order to be more evangelising but the way we become more evangelising is just by getting on with it.

The Proclaim conference was hosted by the Diocese of Broken Bay in partnership with the Australian Catholic Bishops Commission for Evangelisation.

Bishop Hudson’s address at the Proclaim conference focused on parishes becoming oases of mercy. ‘I learnt from my Dad when I was six years old, he used to take me out to visit the neighbours who were elderly or alone. He wasn’t self-consciously teaching me to make our family or our parish an oasis of mercy, but I realised that he was for those vulnerable people around us, an oasis of mercy.

‘He would say to me, Nick, let’s go and see Bob, next door, or we would drop off a shepherd’s pie to Mr Flood every Saturday. It was a way of showing mercy. So I believe that parishes need believe in being oasis of mercy, by simply showing mercy to their neighbours. The clue is to simply ask, who is my neighbour? And if you ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in the response, you can’t but become more evangelising.’ Continue reading