Vatican: No more scattering of cremation ashes

FILE - Faithful gather in St. Peter's Square during the Easter mass celebrated by Pope Francis at the Vatican, Sunday, March 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
FILE - Faithful gather in St. Peter's Square during the Easter mass celebrated by Pope Francis at the Vatican, Sunday, March 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican is setting out guidelines for Catholics who want to be cremated, saying their remains cannot be scattered, divvied up or kept at home but rather stored in a sacred, church-approved place.

The new instructions were released Tuesday, just in time for Halloween, and All Souls Day on Nov. 2, when the faithful are supposed to pray for and remember the dead.

For most of its 2,000-year history, the Catholic Church only permitted burial, arguing that this best expressed the Christian hope in resurrection. But in 1963, the Vatican explicitly allowed cremation as long as it didn’t suggest a denial of faith about resurrection.

The new document repeats that burial remains preferred but lays out guidelines for conserving ashes for the increasing numbers of Catholics who choose cremation.