Catholic Church on Water Cremation / Aquamation and Human Body Composting

Below is a transcript the the video:

Hello and welcome to funeral facts with Deacon Marc.

We’ve been going through a series talking about final dispositions and this one is an interesting one to me and I call it the non options. What are the things that are not options for us as Catholics and more importantly why? Why are these not the right options for us as Catholics not just because someone told us no but why are they not in options.

And so if you’re looking at the funeral industry today, it is absolutely crazy all the different options that you have we have, burial, cremation, donation of the body to science, burial at sea, alkaline hydrolysis, natural organic reduction, cryogenics, mushroom suit. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera; the list goes on and on.

So how do we navigate all this what has permitted and at some points we need to trust those that are studying morality as a church to give us some guidance but we always have to remember that whatever we’re going to do with the body at the end has to be guided by really one major thing and two other sub things of it and that is number one that paragraph 2300 in the catechism that reads:

“The body of the dead must be treated with respect and charity and faith and hope of the resurrection the burial of dead is a corporal work of mercy it honors the children of God who are temples of the Holy Spirit.”

Bottom line with anything we wanna both respect the body and how we treat it and also respect the body in its final disposition and then the other two parts that really come out of that is that the body should be interred as one unit. That doesn’t mean one solid unit but as  one unit in its entirety in a cemetery and it has a you should have the means to do that

And then the other piece of that we don’t often think about is there needs to be that promise of the long term care of the remains and that’s why a lot of places are hesitant to open up cemeteries at local churches and many diocese prefer to have diocesan cemeteries, just because we can make sure that those cemeteries are there forever rather than the church that may close in 15, 20 or 30 years and then you’re like what do we do with all these with this cemetery we have here so three things that we always want to take into consideration and we respect the body both in how are treating it and what we’re doing with it are we in turning the remains and is there long term care possibilities for those remains.

So when you’re thinking about that we have appropriate final dispositions that meet all three of those criteria burial, cremation, burial at sea, donation to scientific research with internment. All those have meet those 3 criteria could be done with respect with internment with long term Care now if we look at all the others and I’m not going to go into each one of them you can look them up if you want I know there’s a lot of curiosity about the mushroom suit but let’s look at two of the most common ones.

Alkaline hydrolysis (sometimes referred to as “water cremation” or “aquamation”) and natural organic reduction (sometimes referred to as “human body composting”) are processes where essentially your body is put into a stainless steel tube, water is combined with some different chemicals is put in and in a short amount of time that combination of the water and chemicals deteriorates all body other than the skeletal remains that water and the chemicals are then released into the sewage system and then the bones are broken down and returned to the family the other one is composting and if you think of having a compost heap back in your backyard that’s exactly similar to what’s it’s doing but a more deliberate purpose for the human body is that you’re combining the body with different things that will allow for the compost over the course of about a month in many cases is what I’ve read so now you might be asking “well what’s the problem with both of those?”

But both of those have problems and that in the respect for the body and in the internment of the remains and with regard to respect for the body both of those processes really aren’t respectful that this is part of the gods the body of that are made in the image of God and also the internment issues are an issue with both and particularly the alkaline hydrolysis much of the body other than the skeletal remains are going down with the tubes with the water rather than being buried with the individual and so in both cases individuals who when the churches looked at this with people who specialize in moral theology have really deemed that these other processes are not respectful of the human body and that we need to stick with the more traditional burial, cremation, burial at see, or donating the body to science with Interment at a later date

A lot to go into a lot of nuances with it there’s some great research and great publications out there with regards to these alternative practices that aren’t accepted we’re going to include in the notes below this video some websites that you can go to that actually have question and answers about all these different processes and can outline them a little bit better than I can in the short video but the bottom line is we got 4 dispositions that are permanent because they respect the body there’s internment of the remains and there’s long term care possibilities there and there many others that are not that way because of lack of respect of the body.

Next week we’re gonna look at one that goes I get a lot of questions about natural burial and how does that apply into these situations we’re gonna talk about that next week in funeral facts with Deacon mark make it a great day.

For more information about Catholic teaching and norms for funerals, cremation, and burial, visit our website: https://cfcscolorado.org/catholic-teaching/

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