Our Latest Educational Forums / Features of Interest

Strangers No Longer Coordinating Council
Invite You to Join
Immigration Circles of Support:
Bulding a Network

Tuesday Evening, August 21, 5:00 PM Dinner, 6:00 PM Program
U. of Detroit / Mercy Fitness Center
(Located in the center of the campus,
access through the Security Gate on McNichols, just east of Livernois)
4001 W. McNichols, Detroit MI 48221

To Register: Click here or email Bill O'Brien (billobrien2018@gmail.com)
or call 313•549•0421

  • Keynote: Bishop Donald F. Hanchon, Archdiocese of Detroit
  • Immigration Law: Atty. Melanie Goldberg, Justice for Our Neighors, Project of the United Methodist Church US
  • Economics of Immigration (and forced resettlement)
  • Family separations, local detentions, community disruptions (Macomb, Oakland, Macomb, Lapeer, Wayne Counties): Pastors, Pastoral Workers, Families
  • Diocese of Cleveland "Companeros" Program: Atty. Jeff Stewart, Immigrant Workers' Project: 100 parishioners trained to accompany families facing deportation
  • Resources for Your Parish Circle of Support

Pope Francis & His Critics on Clergy Sex Abuse
Father Jim Bacik
Tues., Sept. 11, 2018, 1pm

Father Jim Bacik

Ss. Simon & Jude Parish, 32500 Palmer Road Westland, MI

Father James J. Bacik is a widely-regarded pastor, theologian, writer and lecturer who served as a priest for the Diocese of Toledo for over fifty years. He has lectured in Latin America, China, Japan, Russia, and Australia. According to Richard P. McBrien, Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, he is "one of America's finest, most insightful theologians, with a remarkable capacity for clear writing and effective teaching."

Father Bacik last spoke before The Elephants on May 26, 2010 on the topic "What the Spirit Is Saying to the Church through Young Adults". He has been a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter and The Catholic Chronicle as well as a writer for the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Pastoral Letter on Campus Ministry, "Empowered by the Spirit: Campus Ministry Faces the Future."

Fr. Jim Bacik is the recipient of the Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan Award, the Lourdes College Newman Award, and has received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Human Letters, Siena Heights University, 1996; and an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters, Neuman College,

Fr. Bacik will present an examination of the way Pope Francis has handled the scandal he inherited: his initial efforts blocked by the Curia; his misreading of the situation in Chile; his apology to victims; and his efforts to hold bishops accountable.

A light lunch will be served at noon. Please RSVP Tom Kyle at tom.j.kyle.1939@gmail.com, or at 248 482 7037 if you would like to have lunch.

Rev. Richard Rohr, ofm
Wednesday, November 7, 2018, 1pm
"The Universal Call to Holiness"

IBEW Hall, 1358 Abbott St. Detroit

Rev. Richard Rohr, ofm

A light lunch will be served at noon. Please RSVP Tom Kyle at tom.j.kyle.1939@gmail.com, or at 248 482 7037 if you would like to have lunch.

Pope Francis & the Gospel of Nonviolence
Father John Dear
Thurs., Apr. 12, 2018

Father John Dear

Christ the King 16805 Pierson, Detroit, MI 1:00 pm

John Dear is a longtime activist, lecturer, and author/editor of 30 books, including The Nonviolent Life, Lazarus Come Forth!, A Persistent Peace, Put Down Your Sword, Transfiguration, You Will Be My Witnesses, Living Peace, The Questions of Jesus and Mohandas Gandhi.

He has served as the director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and after 9/11, as a coordinator of chaplains for the Red Cross at the New York Family Assistance Center. From 2002-2004, he served as pastor of four churches in New Mexico. Formerly a Jesuit, he now serves as a diocesan priest in the Diocese of Monterey, CA. He has traveled the war zones of the world, been arrested 75 times for peace, and given thousands of lectures on peace across the country. He lives in New Mexico, and was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Along with Bishop Tom Gumbleton, Fr. John Dear is one of the strongest advocates for peace.

A light lunch will be served at noon. Please RSVP Tom Kyle at tom.j.kyle.1939@gmail.com, or at 248 482 7037 if you would like to have lunch. Click here for driving directions.

Pope Francis and His Call to Justice
Dr. M. Shawn Copeland
Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Dr. M. Shawn Copeland

Sacred Heart Church Activities Bldg., 3451 Rivard
Detroit, MI 48207 1:00 pm

Dr. M. Shawn Copeland is Professor of Systematic Theology at Boston College, where she teaches graduate students preparing for the doctorate in Theology as well as undergraduate students in the interdisciplinary Program in African and African Diaspora Studies (AADS) and in the PULSE Program. An award-winning writer, Copeland is the author and/or editor of six books including Enfleshing Freedom: Body, Race, and Being, The Subversive Power of Love: The Vision of Henriette Delille, and 125 articles, book chapters, reviews, and blog entries on spirituality, theological anthropology, political theology, social suffering, gender and race. Since 2003, Copeland has been a tenured member of the Theology Department at Boston College, where she earned her doctoral degree. She has taught at Marquette University, Yale University Divinity School, and St. Norbert College and has held visiting positions at Harvard University Divinity School. Copeland is a much sought-after lecturer in colleges, universities, and seminaries-both internationally and nationally.

Copeland is a former Convener of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium (BCTS), an interdisciplinary learned association of Black Catholic scholars, and she is recognized as one of the most important influences in North America in drawing attention to issues surrounding African American Catholics. She was the first African American—and the first African American woman—to serve as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA). She is the recipient of five (5) honorary degrees as well as the Seton Medal and the Congar Award for excellence in theology. In November of 2017, the University of Dayton conferred upon her their prestigious Marianist Award, which is presented "to a Catholic scholar, author, and theologian who has made an outstanding contribution to the intellectual life."

Here is Dr. Copeland's Curriculum Vitae.

A light lunch will be served at noon. Please RSVP Tom Kyle at tom.j.kyle.1939@gmail.com, or at 248 482 7037 if you would like to have lunch. Please click here fordriving directions.

Father James Martin, sj

Building a Bridge between LGBT People and the Church
Father James Martin, sj
Tues., Jan. 23, 2018

IBEW Hall, 1358 Abbott St. Detroit 1:00 pm

James J. Martin sj, also known as Jim Martin, is an American Jesuit priest, a writer, and editor-at-large of the Jesuit magazine America. He grew up in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business in 1982, and worked in corporate finance at General Electric for six years. Dissatisfied with the corporate world, he became more deeply involved in the Catholic Church and decided to enter the Society of Jesus in 1988, and was ordained a priest in 1999. and now lives in the America House Jesuit Community in midtown Manhattan.
Some of Martin's theological views, especially on homosexuality, are controversial in the Catholic Church. In addition to his work at America magazine, Fr. Martin has written or edited more than 10 books, many of which are largely about his own experiences. He is a frequent commentator for CNN, NPR, Fox News Channel, Time magazine, The Huffington Post and other news outlets, and has written several op-ed pieces and blogged for The New York Times. On April 12, 2017, Pope Francis appointed Martin and EWTN leader Michael Warsaw as consultants to the Vatican's Secretariat for Communications.
A light lunch will be served at noon. Please RSVP Tom Kyle at tom.j.kyle.1939@gmail.com, or at 248 482 7037 if you would like to have lunch. Please click here fordriving directions.


2017 Educational Forums

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Robert Mickens
Roman Happenings

Inside the Vatican:
Francis' Efforts at Reform of the Curia
and Vatican Culture

Venue: St. Louis Parish
24415 Crocker Blvd.
Clinton Township, MI

Robert Mickens Robert Mickens is editor-in-chief of the online version of the presigious French Catholic dailyLa Croix Internationale.. Since 1986, he has lived in Rome, where he studied theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University before working 11 years at Vatican Radio, and then another decade as correspondent for The Tablet of London. He identifies himself as The Roman Observer. Robert Mickens addressed the Elephants as recently as January 2016 to great approval and requests to bring him back. Some of the topics he can address which are of interest to the Elephants, include Pope Francis' encyclical on the family, his encyclical on the environment, his reorganization of the Curia, his reorganization of Church governance with the appointment of twelve cardinals to assist him, including Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, return of control of the Roman Missal to national episcopal conferences like the USCCB, on the selection of bishops, and ongoing efforts to change the culture of the Vatican.

If you are diligent, you may get pieces of these subjects in select media; but Robert Mickens is at the heart of where this is happening and can provide a most interesting and fulfilling analysis of Pope Francis and the Vatican.

A light lunch will be served at noon. Please RSVP Tom Kyle at tom.j.kyle.1939@gmail.com, or at 248 482 7037 if you would like to have lunch.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017:
Rev. Jared Wicks, sj
Martin Luther: 500 Years' Legacy

Rev. Jared Wicks, sj Fr. Wicks served on the world-level Catholic-Lutheran dialogue on "Church and Justification" and "The Apostolicity of the Church." He also joined the U.S. Catholic-Lutheran dialogue that produced the consensus document, "The Hope of Eternal Life," completed in 2011.

Ordained in 1962 as a member of the Chicago-Detroit Province of the Jesuit order, he has taught at the Jesuit School of Theology in Chicago (1967-1979), the Gregorian University in Rome (1979-2004), and has served as scholar in residence at John Carroll University in Cleveland (2004-2011) and at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio (2011 to present).

His many publications include Luther's Reform: Studies on Conversion and the Church (P. von Zabern, 1992), Doing Theology (Paulist 2009), and Luther and His Spiritual Legacy (reprint, Wipf & Stock, 2016).

Tuesday, May 23, 2017:
Sister Carol Zinn, ssj
Care for Our Common Home

Sister Carol Zinn, ssj Sister Carol Zinn ssj is one of the most popular and acclaimed women religious speakers active today.

A member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, she has served as both president and past president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and holds a doctorate in curriculum development and education foundations and a master's degree in theology. She was a research fellow at Episcopal Divinity School and Harvard University studying leadership and transformation.

She has had a career of leadership roles in the Sisters of St. Joseph, Philadelphia. She has a background of working on international movements as a consultant and facilitator.

She worked on the United Religions Initiative and the Earth Charter. She also worked as the Education Program director for Global Education Associates, a non-governmental organization (NGO) to further global systemic change.

She served as the main representative for the Congregations of St. Joseph, an NGO in general consultative status with the United Nations' Economic and Social Council, representing more than 15,000 Sisters of St. Joseph. She participated in UN meetings on human rights, poverty eradication, environment, peace and disarmament, education, sustainable development, and women, children, and healthcare.

At retreats, congregational and provincial assemblies, chapter gatherings, and community meetings, she also helped individual groups connect their efforts and energies to global issues and concerns.

Dr. Zinn served on her congregation's leadership team and in the presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) from 2012 to 2015. In 2015 Sr. Zinn met with Pope Francis on the role of LCWR and on Evangelii Gaudium, the Joy of the Gospel. She has spoken recently at conferences on Laudato Si!, Care for Our Common Home.

In June, 2016 Sister Carol spoke before the Assembly of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, and brought a local approach to the global realities in "Laudato Si': Caring for our Common Home". You can view her presentation by clicking here

Friday, March 17, 2017
A Catholic Response
to the Trump Presidency
by Dr. Stephen Pope

Dr. Stephen Pope Millions of Catholics helped to elect someone who has displayed contempt for much of what lies at the heart of Christian morality: compassion, forgiveness, humility, fidelity and patience. His campaign proposals run contrary to core values affirmed by Catholic social teachings: solidarity, the preferential option for the poor, the common good, stewardship of the planet and the intrinsic dignity of every person. Stephen Pope will address these and propose how we as Catholics might respond to Trump supporters in honest dialogue.

Stephen J. Pope received his Ph.D. in theological ethics from the University of Chicago in 1988. He teaches courses on social ethics and theological ethics. He is the author of A Step Along the Way: Models of Christian Service (Orbis, 2015).

Wednesday, January 18, 2017
The Holy Land—Hearing the Call of the Mother Church
Sir Jeffery Abood

Jerusalem Cross Sir Jeffery has served as Advocacy and Outreach Director of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation—HCEF.org—based in Bethesda, MD and Bethlehem, Palestine.

In 2007 he received a certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for his leadership in working with the Palestine Christian communities in the Holy Land.

Knighted by the Vatican, Jeff serves on the Executive Committee of the North Central Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, and as editor of its newsletter, the Page, and as co-chair of the Education Committee.

Jeff is a speaker and a writer on the Church's perspective on the current situation of Christians in the Holy Land. He has completed a book entitled: A Great Cloud of Witnesses: The Catholic Church's Experience in the Holy Land, available from Amazon.

This will be an opportunity to hear firsthand, and from the Churches perspective, on the situation of the Christians in the Holy Land, who they are, why they are leaving, and how we as the wider Church body can help.


New / Noteworthy

Undoing the
New Roman Missal

The imposition of the 2010 New Roman Missal has been one of the least popular liturgical "reforms" engendered by the discomfort expressed by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI with post-Conciliar liturgical implementations and the rise of the "Reform of the Reform" movement.

Pope Francis has issued new instructions for the approval of liturgical texts, rebalancing the relationship between the Vatican and local bishops's conferences in favor of greater local control. The pope's order, in the form of an apostolic letter issued motu proprio (that is, on his own initiative) titled "Magnum Principium," reverses the trend in recent years toward greater Vatican control over the texts used in the Mass. "In order that the renewal of the whole liturgical life might continue," Francis wrote, "it seemed opportune that some principles handed on since the time of the [Second Vatican] Council should be more clearly reaffirmed and put into practice.". This is a major reversal of Liturgiam Authenticam and the "Reform of the Reform" under John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Here is a commentary by a major liturgical scholar.

The Blog "Pray Tell" has been tracking the deficiencies of, and possible remedies for this move.

[With respect to Liturgiam Authenticam, et al.[... All these documents are united by one characteristic: they are the fruit of fear. They are a reaction to the trust and confidence that the Second Vatican Council had introduced into the Church of the 1960s and 1970s, overcoming the anti-modern trauma that had paralyzed the Church for more than a century.

Directed by the secretary of the congregation [for divine worship], the English archbishop Arthur Roche, a commission has been set up within the dicastery [Vatican office] at the behest of Francis, the objective of which is... the demolition of... the instruction "Liturgiam Authenticam" issued in 2001, which sets the criteria for the translation of liturgical texts from Latin into the modern languages.

The AOD Priest Shortage

We are grateful to Rev. Charles Morris for providing the Elephants with the information below. This past April the Archdiocese of Detroit held a Town Hall meeting at St. Theodore, Westland, concerning a 3-parish merger caused by the nationwide shortage of priests. Two sets of statistics are of particular interest to the Elephants: (See below)

The number of priests available to serve all the parishes of the Archdiocese of Detroit
from the year 2000 through 2020

The age distribution of priests in the Archdiocese of January, 2016.
(The average age for all priests is 63.2 years.)


What is interesting is that we have more priests in their 90s than in their 20s. It appears as though within ten years there will be more priests who will be older than 70 than younger even accounting for new ordinations in the next few years, incardinations (as well as deaths and those who will be leaving the active ministry and the Archdiocese of Detroit).

However, we might consider an alternative theory as to why there is such a shortage, as offered by Cardinal Raymond Burke:

Cardinal Raymond Burke
Cardinal Raymond Burke, evincing the effects of "Feminization" of the Church

Cardinal Raymond Burke:
"Feminized" Church and Altar Girls Caused Priest Shortage

Cardinal Raymond Burke,a senior American churchman in Rome who has been one of the most outspoken critics of Pope Francis' push for reform, is roiling the waters yet again, claiming that the Catholic Church has become too "feminized."

Burke,who was recently demoted from the Vatican's highest court—the Signatura—to a ceremonial philanthropic post, also pointed to the introduction of altar girls for why fewer men are joining the priesthood.

"Young boys don't want to do things with girls. It's just natural." Burke said in an interview published on Monday, Jan. 5. "I think that this has contributed to a loss of priestly vocations.

It requires a certain manly discipline to serve as an altar boy in service at the side of a priest; and most priests have their first deep experiences of the liturgy as altar boys" the former archbishop of St Louis told Matthew James Christoff. who heads a Catholic mens' ministry that is called the New Evangelization Project.

It's All About the Money!

It can be credibly stated that Money—that is to say, Parish indebtedness together with Diocesan pay outs for the victims of clerical sexual abuse—is at the foundation of most parish closures and the resultant creation of megaparishes presided over by a few circuit-riding clergy. Yes, the lack of credibility of the pre-Francis Church resulting in plummeting congregational membership, together with the remarkably dwindling supply of priests are contributing factors.

On December 8, 2015, Tom Kyle wrote a letter to Archbishop Vigneron suggesting that forgiveness of the debt—or at least the interest on the debt—under which many poorer parishes are staggering might be a wonderful act in the Holy Year of Mercy, following the example of the Italian Bishops (and of Jewish custom during a Jubilee Year as well.) On December 16, 2015, the Archbishop replied, declining the request and invoking a rather unusual bit of reasoning to justify the refusal.

You may remember that in 2011 Jason Berry spoke on this same topic.

Patrick J. Wall has written a very interesting study of the Financial Repercussions of Sexual Abuse of Minors, and Jack Ruhl has exposed serious problems in Priests' Pension Plan Funding.

in 1999, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a very important document, A Jubilee Call for Debt Forgiveness.

Pew Research Center Reports:
Religion and American Life

The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. We conduct public opinion polling, demographic research, content analysis and other data-driven social science research. They do not take policy positions.

Pew Research is a highly-respected, impartial source for information, in the form of reports, studies, and thought-provoking fact-based research on Religion and American Life; this page is well worth browsing monthly. You can also sign up for alerts to follow breaking trends.

Sunday Liturgy Can Be Better

Practical Suggestions for Planners, Ministers and People in the Pews
By Bishop Kenneth E. Untener

Bp. Ken Untener Image

Bishop Ken Untener was Bishop of Saginaw, MI for 24 years—from 1980 until his death in 2004 from a form of leukemia.

Catholics throughout Michigan are familiar with his writings through the little seasonal books of reelections on the major seasons of the Church Year (the "Blue Book" for Advent, the "Black Book" for Lent, et al.)

His lucid and engaging style is also evident in this newly-resurrected digital edition of an out-of-print, out-of copyright book containing practical suggestions for everyone engaged in our Sunday liturgies, thanks to the work of our own Chief Pachyderm, Tom Kyle.

As Bishop Untener says in the Preface,

I used to teach preaching, and one of the principles I gave the students is: "Tell them something but don't try to tell them everything."

The following pages attempt to follow that principle. They are not a complete treatment of Sunday liturgies. They are not even a step-by-step treatment.

They simply set forth some practical reflections I hope will be helpful for anyone who has any responsibility for the Sunday celebration, especially members of parish worship commissions.

It is my hope that I have put in writing thoughts and sentiments that you already have within you, and that by doing so I have helped you to give expression to them and to improve the liturgies in your parish.

Table of Contents

The Vatican's New Directive on Cremation

Instruction Ad resurgendum cum Christo regarding the burial of the deceased and the conservation of the ashes in the case of cremation

1. To rise with Christ, we must die with Christ: we must "be away from the body and at home with the Lord" (2 Cor 5:8). With the Instruction Piam et Constantem of 5 July 1963, the then Holy Office established that "all necessary measures must be taken to preserve the practice of reverently burying the faithful departed", adding however that cremation is not "opposed per se to the Christian religion" and that no longer should the sacraments and funeral rites be denied to those who have asked that they be cremated, under the condition that this choice has not been made through "a denial of Christian dogmas, the animosity of a secret society, or hatred of the Catholic religion and the Church". Later this change in ecclesiastical discipline was incorporated into the Code of Canon Law (1983) and the Code of Canons of Oriental Churches (1990).

During the intervening years, the practice of cremation has notably increased in many countries, but simultaneously new ideas contrary to the Church's faith have also become widespread. Having consulted the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and numerous Episcopal Conferences and Synods of Bishops of the Oriental Churches, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has deemed opportune the publication of a new Instruction, with the intention of underlining the doctrinal and pastoral reasons for the preference of the burial of the remains of the faithful and to set out norms pertaining to the conservation of ashes in the case of cremation.

2. The resurrection of Jesus is the culminating truth of the Christian faith, preached as an essential part of the Paschal Mystery from the very beginnings of Christianity: "For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve" (1 Cor 15:3-5).

Through his death and resurrection, Christ freed us from sin and gave us access to a new life, "so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (Rm 6:4). Furthermore, the risen Christ is the principle and source of our future resurrection: "Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep [...] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor 15:20-22).

It is true that Christ will raise us up on the last day; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already risen with Christ. In Baptism, actually, we are immersed in the death and resurrection of Christ and sacramentally assimilated to him: "You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead" (Col 2:12). United with Christ by Baptism, we already truly participate in the life of the risen Christ (cf. Eph 2:6).

Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning. The Christian vision of death receives privileged expression in the liturgy of the Church: "Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended, and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven". By death the soul is separated from the body, but in the resurrection God will give incorruptible life to our body, transformed by reunion with our soul. In our own day also, the Church is called to proclaim her faith in the resurrection: "The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live".

3. Following the most ancient Christian tradition, the Church insistently recommends that the bodies of the deceased be buried in cemeteries or other sacred places.

In memory of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord, the mystery that illumines the Christian meaning of death, burial is above all the most fitting way to express faith and hope in the resurrection of the body.

The Church who, as Mother, has accompanied the Christian during his earthly pilgrimage, offers to the Father, in Christ, the child of her grace, and she commits to the earth, in hope, the seed of the body that will rise in glory.

By burying the bodies of the faithful, the Church confirms her faith in the resurrection of the body, and intends to show the great dignity of the human body as an integral part of the human person whose body forms part of their identity. She cannot, therefore, condone attitudes or permit rites that involve erroneous ideas about death, such as considering death as the definitive annihilation of the person, or the moment of fusion with Mother Nature or the universe, or as a stage in the cycle of regeneration, or as the definitive liberation from the "prison" of the body.

Furthermore, burial in a cemetery or another sacred place adequately corresponds to the piety and respect owed to the bodies of the faithful departed who through Baptism have become temples of the Holy Spirit and in which "as instruments and vessels the Spirit has carried out so many good works".

Tobias, the just, was praised for the merits he acquired in the sight of God for having buried the dead, and the Church considers the burial of dead one of the corporal works of mercy.

Finally, the burial of the faithful departed in cemeteries or other sacred places encourages family members and the whole Christian community to pray for and remember the dead, while at the same time fostering the veneration of martyrs and saints.

Through the practice of burying the dead in cemeteries, in churches or their environs, Christian tradition has upheld the relationship between the living and the dead and has opposed any tendency to minimize, or relegate to the purely private sphere, the event of death and the meaning it has for Christians.

4. In circumstances when cremation is chosen because of sanitary, economic or social considerations, this choice must never violate the explicitly-stated or the reasonably inferable wishes of the deceased faithful. The Church raises no doctrinal objections to this practice, since cremation of the deceased's body does not affect his or her soul, nor does it prevent God, in his omnipotence, from raising up the deceased body to new life. Thus cremation, in and of itself, objectively negates neither the Christian doctrine of the soul's immortality nor that of the resurrection of the body.

The Church continues to prefer the practice of burying the bodies of the deceased, because this shows a greater esteem towards the deceased. Nevertheless, cremation is not prohibited, "unless it was chosen for reasons contrary to Christian doctrine".

In the absence of motives contrary to Christian doctrine, the Church, after the celebration of the funeral rite, accompanies the choice of cremation, providing the relevant liturgical and pastoral directives, and taking particular care to avoid every form of scandal or the appearance of religious indifferentism.

5. When, for legitimate motives, cremation of the body has been chosen, the ashes of the faithful must be laid to rest in a sacred place, that is, in a cemetery or, in certain cases, in a church or an area, which has been set aside for this purpose, and so dedicated by the competent ecclesial authority.

From the earliest times, Christians have desired that the faithful departed become the objects of the Christian community's prayers and remembrance. Their tombs have become places of prayer, remembrance and reflection. The faithful departed remain part of the Church who believes "in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church".

The reservation of the ashes of the departed in a sacred place ensures that they are not excluded from the prayers and remembrance of their family or the Christian community. 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. Also it prevents any unfitting or superstitious practices.

6. For the reasons given above, the conservation of the ashes of the departed in a domestic residence is not permitted. Only in grave and exceptional cases dependent on cultural conditions of a localized nature, may the Ordinary, in agreement with the Episcopal Conference or the Synod of Bishops of the Oriental Churches, concede permission for the conservation of the ashes of the departed in a domestic residence. Nonetheless, the ashes may not be divided among various family members and due respect must be maintained regarding the circumstances of such a conservation.

7. In order that every appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism be avoided, it is not permitted to scatter the ashes of the faithful departed in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewelry or other objects. These courses of action cannot be legitimized by an appeal to the sanitary, social, or economic motives that may have occasioned the choice of cremation.

8. When the deceased notoriously has requested cremation and the scattering of their ashes for reasons contrary to the Christian faith, a Christian funeral must be denied to that person according to the norms of the law.

The Sovereign Pontiff Francis, in the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect on 18 March 2016, approved the present Instruction, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation on 2 March 2016, and ordered its publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 15 August 2016, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Gerhard Card. Muller, Prefect

Luis F. Ladaria, S.I., Titular Archbishop of Thibica, Secretary

Download the Document as a .pdf

We are an organization of priests of the Archdiocese of Detroit, strongly supported by participating laity, who seek renewal of the Church of Detroit. Our purpose is to offer opportunities for education and creating an open forum for discussion and dialog that will lead to developing and advocating more collegial solutions to the challenges we face. Membership is open to Catholic clergy, religious and laity. We firmly believe these efforts will contribute to a greater solidarity among priests and a renewed Church of Detroit.

This page was last updated August 11, 2018