Interesting news, from New Mexico:
Rosario Cemetery is offering to bury cremated remains for no charge.
William Roibal, supervisor of the Roman Catholic cemetery northwest of downtown Santa Fe, said he’s already been contacted by a few families, including one that had stored a relative’s ashes in a closet for decades.
Archbishop of Santa Fe Michael J. Sheehan is leading a committal service on Nov. 2 at the cemetery.
“Anyone who wants to honor a loved one in a sacred place, they should bring them down here,” Roibal said, where the ashes will be “treated with proper dignity.”
The cemetery’s offer is related to concern within the Catholic Church over the growing popularity of scattering ashes outdoors, divvying them up among the relatives or enclosing them in jewelry.
In a news release last November, Sheehan called the practices “bizarre” and said they are condemned by the church because they do not honor the body of the deceased and are an affront to the Catholic belief in the resurrection of the dead.
In a message read from the pulpit in many parishes last year, Sheehan said, “Let us not be misled by the atmosphere of paganism around us, which rejects the existence of the soul, the sacredness of the body, the mercy of the Redemption, and eternal life with God in heaven.”
Roibal said there are many reasons, including the economic climate, for why families choose to scatter ashes of their loved ones.
The church still recommends that the body be buried in the ground. “It’s just been a longstanding practice to reverently place deceased in a grave or crypt,” Roibal said. The abandonment of the Catholic funeral rite, he added, “indicates an erosion of our belief about the hope of eternal life.”