The Catholic University of America

Rev. Michael Witczak, associate professor, theology, was quoted in an article posted by TribLiv discussing the rate of cremations in the U.S. See below.

More Americans choosing cremation over burial

From: TribLive
Date: November 13, 2016
Author: Natasha Lindstrom

“Even a bare-bones funeral can ring up $10,000, and often times when someone dies, especially after a long illness, a lot of their resources have been eaten up,” said the Rev. Michael G. Witczak, liturgical studies professor at The Catholic University of America in Washington.

But cost isn't the only deciding factor. People also choose cremation because it can allow for more convenient and flexible funerals, such as scheduling a service months after a death or in another state, said Kemmis at the Cremation Association of North America. Some opt for a traditional viewing and funeral in the presence of a casket before cremation. Some take the ashes home and wait a few years before deciding what to do with them.

The Vatican states that storing cremains permanently “in a sacred place ensures that they are not excluded from the prayers and remembrance of their family or the Christian community” and prevents “unfitting or superstitious practices.”

“The point isn't to be rigid. It's that you are a member of a community, you can't just act independently,” Witczak said. “There's a sense in which everything that I do has an impact on everybody else.”

The church long opposed cremation, but as cemeteries became full in Europe, “it just forced the church to look at the realities and realize people were doing cremation out of practical necessity and not to make a statement denying faith,” Witczak said.

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