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Manila Archdiocese to bless urns of cremated people

Churchgoers urged to bring ashes of loved ones to church for last rites but told not to keep them permanently at home

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Manila Archdiocese to bless urns of cremated people

Manila Archdiocese is asking Catholics to bring urns containing the ashes of their loved ones to church to be blessed after Masses. (Photo: Unsplash) 

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Manila Archdiocese says it will bless urns containing the ashes of coronavirus victims every Sunday after each Mass until Nov. 8.

The archdiocese said the Rite of Blessing for the Dead would be recited and urns would be sprinkled with holy water after Sunday Masses.

“We will be having the Rite of Blessing of cremated remains. The family may bring the urn and a picture of their beloved dead, and we will celebrate a worthy liturgical blessing for them. This is in response to the call of [apostolic administrator] Bishop Broderick Pabillo to make our churches welcome places of prayer and consolation, especially for families who lost a loved one during this pandemic,” said the archdiocese in a social media post.

Bishop Pabillo earlier wrote a pastoral instruction encouraging all churchgoers to bring the urn and photo of their dearly departed to church for last rites and blessing.

“We hold on to our faith in the Communion of Saints and to our oneness with our beloved dead. We believe that death does not totally separate our loved ones from us. In physical death, life is changed, not ended. Our relationship with our beloved dead, however, is no longer material but spiritual,” Bishop Pabillo said in the pastoral instruction.

He also reminded churchgoers it was forbidden to keep cremated remains at home permanently.

“During these past six months, many have experienced a death in the family, and for hygienic reasons many of our dead were cremated. 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 in a statement.

The reason was that the remains could be desecrated in the future.

“There is great danger of desecration in the future, especially when we are no longer around to look after and care for these ashes. So, the ashes should be laid to rest in columbaria in the cemeteries or in churches. In this way too, other people outside of our families who would like to visit and pray for them can freely do so,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas has released a video series on catechism and the Catholic faith titled “The Light of Faith”.

Archbishop Villegas explained in one video why the Catholic Church had allowed the cremation of human remains provided certain conditions were followed.

“Is cremation wrong? No. Before it was not allowed by the Catholic Church because there were those who wanted to ridicule the teaching of the Catholic Church about the resurrection of the body,” said Archbishop Villegas in the video.

Archbishop Villegas, however, said that churchgoers now do not have the same concern or reason due to health protocols introduced during the pandemic.

“If cremation does not deny the eternity of the soul, then cremation is allowed. It is ideal that remains are still to be blessed in churches and must be permanently interred. But it is wrong for Catholics to scatter the ashes in the sea or be placed in the garden. They must be interred with dignity,” he added.

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