As cremation activities increase amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Manila Bishop Broderick Pabillo reminded the faithful that ashes of cremated loved ones must be kept in sacred places such as columbaria and cemeteries, and not at home.
“I would like to remind everyone that it is not allowed for us to keep the urns containing the ashes in our homes permanently,” Bishop Pabillo said. He warned that they may be a “great danger of desecration in the future,” especially when there is no one around to look after and care for the ashes. (Read: Bishop Pabillo Appeals to Adjust Curfew Hours for Simbang Gabi)
As of writing, the number of patients succumbing to COVID-19 in the Philippines continues to increase. This has led to more and more Filipino families seeing the cremation of the departed loved ones, as the national government has made it a standard protocol to cremate the bodies of all COVID-19 patients within 12 hours after death.
In 2016, the Vatican said that Catholics may be cremated but should not have their ashes scattered or kept in urns at home. (Read: Manila Cathedral Holds Blessing of Cremated Remains Until November 8)
The Holy See has issued guidelines barring the scattering of ashes “in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way.” It also decreed that the ashes of loved ones have no place in the home, and certainly not in jewelry.
The guidelines reiterate the Roman Catholic Church’s preference for burial over cremation but bishop conferences all over the world requested doctrinal clarification since cremation has become increasingly popular and there were no canonical norms for preserving the ashes.