Q. Is it possible for a deceased Catholic to be buried in a non-Catholic cemetery or mausoleum?
A. The Catholic Church teaches that the bodies of the deceased are to be treated with respect. Human persons have dignity because we are made in the image and likeness of God, and the proper burial of the dead is in keeping with our inherent dignity.
The Catholic Church recommends the traditional, pious custom of burying the bodies of the dead, but permits cremation, unless cremation is done with a motive that is contrary to the teachings of the Christian faith.
For instance, it would be wrong to desire to be cremated out of disgust or hatred of the body or the material world. The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, created by God along with all of creation, and so it is good. Moreover, it would be wrong to be cremated to signify denial of the resurrection of the body, which is a fundamental Christian belief.
The burying of the faithful departed encourages the family and friends of the deceased to continue to pray for the deceased. It also allows for the entire Christian community to remember and pray for the deceased so that they may not be forgotten.
Many dioceses and parishes have their own cemeteries and mausoleums. The Code of Canon Law states that “where possible, the Church is to have its own cemeteries or at least areas in civil cemeteries that are designated for the deceased members of the faithful and properly blessed” (Can. 1240).
A local diocesan or parish cemetery serves as a reminder of one’s own mortality, and is a prompting to pray for the dead. Thus, the Church commends the practice.
However, there is no mandate for Catholics to be buried in a parish or diocesan cemetery or mausoleum. Any grave may be blessed at the time of burial.
Write to Ask the Register using our online form, or write to 3700 Sheridan Blvd., Suite 10, Lincoln NE 68506-6100. All questions are subject to editing. Editors decide which questions to publish. Personal questions cannot be answered. People with such questions are urged to take them to their nearest Catholic priest.