The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has released an Instruction on Cremation and the Burial of Ashes. The document, Ad resurgendum ad Christo (“To rise with Christ”), reiterates Church teaching about death and resurrection, in particular the preference for burial, but allowing the practice of cremation.
In England and Wales the majority of funerals lead to cremation – and the figures suggest that this is the pattern for Catholics too. The concern of the Instruction is the need for the cremated remains to be ‘laid to rest’. In England and Wales this will usually mean burial. The Instruction notes that it is not part of Catholic tradition or practice for ashes to be scattered, nor to be preserved in jewellery or mementos.
The Department for Christian Life and Worship previously issued guidance on the Burial of Ashes in 2008 and also placed the liturgical texts for the interment of ashes on the Liturgy Office website. (This page on the Liturgy Office site also gives other information about funerals liturgies.)