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The National Conference of Catholic Bishops has received Vatican permission to allow the presence of the cremated remains of a body at the Funeral Liturgy. This permission was granted by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and became effective November 4, 1997.
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The bishops, however, encourage families to continue the custom of burying the bodies of the deceased. Also, if the family of the deceased requests cremation, it is preferred that the funeral liturgy take place in the presence of the body of the deceased prior to cremation.
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Family and friends of the deceased may note minor "liturgical changes" when the cremated remains are present at the funeral liturgy. They are:
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1. Gate of Heaven The cremated remains are placed in a "worthy vessel" and placed on a table in the same place where the casket usually is placed.
2. Gate of Heaven The Paschal Candle continues to be placed in a prominent position just as it is when a body is present.
3. Gate of Heaven When the cremated remains are present at the funeral liturgy, the pall is not used. Incensing the cremated remains is permitted.
4. Gate of Heaven The words "earthly remains" are substituted for the word "body" in the prayer of committal for the cremated remains.
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If you have further questions on this issue, please do not hesitate to call the Worship Office of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, (513) 421-3131.
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