Cremation services are becoming more popular each year. In the year 2003 nearly one in every four funeral services involved cremation. Cremation services can be traditional with a funeral mass at a local church or funeral services with in the chapel at the funeral home. One can have a traditional funeral service with the cremation for about one-half the cost of a service with in ground burial.
The Catholic Church does accept cremation. In the 13th century a group of heretics burned their bodies in defiance of Christ. At that time the Catholic Church took a stand against cremation. In the 20th century the Catholic Church re-addressed cremation. Their position now is that cremation is acceptable as long as it is an alternative to burial, not a defiant act. If there is a funeral mass with the body or the cremains present that entity is now blessed and should be handled accordingly.
The ashes returned from the crematorium are called cremains. There is no law in Pennsylvania governing the disposition of cremains. In the eyes of the law the crematory is the place of final disposition. Thus the cremains have no legal entity as a buried corpse would have.
One must use reasonable caution and prudence in handling the disposition of cremains. It is against the law to litter; one can’t simply throw them on the street, or trespass on private property such as a park or cemetery and place the cremains there with out permission. Often cremains are buried in a cemetery on top of a relative’s grave. Often the cremains are saved in an urn and buried with a loved one at a later date. Companion urns and urn burial vaults are available that allow the cremains of two persons to be placed in the same urn and interred together.