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Catholic cemetery manager welcomes new instructions on cremation

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Cremation changes: The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith issued new instructions for cremations. Photo: Stock image.

NEW instructions on the cremation of Catholics outlining an end to scattering ashes or keeping them in domestic residences are “not new information” to a Brisbane cemetery manager.

David Molloy has been the manager of Nudgee Cemetery since 2003, 40 years after the Holy See approved cremation as an option for conserving the remains of the dead.

He said as a cemetery worker he “and others in the industry” already understood the importance of the distinctions set out in the new instructions set out by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith issued on October 15.

“The Vatican’s letter is not new information,” Mr Molloy said.  

The congregation confirmed the Church’s acceptance of cremation as a valid alternative to burial as long as the deceased did not intend to deny Christian dogmas, and added a new obligation to conserve ashes in a sacred place.

Practices that will no longer be permitted under the new instructions were scattering ashes in the air, on land or at sea, conserving ashes at home, or dividing remains among family members.

“It prevents the faithful departed from being forgotten, or their remains from being shown a lack of respect, which eventuality is possible, most especially once the immediately subsequent generation has, too, passed away,” the congregation’s instructions said.

Almost 80 per cent of people living in metropolitan Brisbane and about 50 per cent of Catholics were choosing cremation, Mr Molloy said.

Mr Molloy said the emphasis on placing ashes in a sacred space as opposed to a domestic residence emphasised a reverence and respect for the body.

He said it would also place the importance on visiting a resting place, a ritual as important as a funeral or service memorial.

“A place to visit, a memorial (plaque or headstone) is the long-term tribute to a person’s life and should never be under-estimated,” Mr Molloy said.

“It is not so much how often we visit, but that we have the opportunity to visit when we feel the need to reflect and pray for that person.

“I would say that not a week goes by where we have a non-family visiting someone’s grave.  

“Many people don’t realise just how many visits their family member receives by folk other than family.

“The disappointment of visitors when there is no memorial to the person they have come to visit and remember can hinder the journey of their grief.  

Brisbane archdiocese’s first crematorium was built in 2014 at Nudgee Cemetery.

By Emilie Ng

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