Again, years ago, in a discussion with Bishop Louis Vezelis, he informed me that he gave permission for a nun from another country who died while visiting him to be cremated. I said that I thought it was against Church teaching to be cremated. His response was that since it would cost so much money to send her body to her country, it constituted a "grave necessity".
Again, at the time, this did not seem right to me.
Here is what the Church teaches on cremation:
- On May 19, 1886 in answer to two questions posed by the bishops, the Church forbade the joining of cremation societies which were for the most part of Masonic origin and spirit, and it was further condemned to request cremation of one’s own body or the body of another.
- Some seven months later, December 15, 1886, Pope Leo XIII ratified this document. Catholics who destined their bodies for cremation were deprived of a proper Christian burial.
- On July 27, 1892, the matter was definitively resolved. Priests were requested not to give such Catholics the last rites; no public funeral Mass could be said.
If a person has in any way ordered that his body be cremated, it is illicit to obey such instructions; and if such a provision occur in a contract, last testament or in any document whatsoever, it is to be disregarded. (canon 1203, §2).