I’m dismayed by the Vatican’s edict on ashes

SIR – Although I am not as educated in the ways of the Church as some of your contributors clearly are, I nevertheless try to be the best Catholic I can, but all too often fall short of this ideal. There may well be good theological reasons why clarification on the disposal of ashes of the dead has been brought into the public spotlight but frankly I find the document intrusive and hurtful.

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, who presented the text, says that to scatter or store the ashes in anywhere other than an approved sacred place gives the appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism. But I do not even know what these words mean. Nor, I suspect, do many of my contemporaries. He also says that to store or scatter the ashes would deprive the whole Christian community of remembering the dead, and I say most definitely that it would not.

I sometimes wonder if those who talk in the lofty and seemingly eloquent ways I have mentioned actually have any understanding of how people like myself live. I am in my 70th year now and know many who have lost their loved ones after 40 or 50 years of marriage. They keep or scatter the ashes not because of any New Age thinking but out of their love for the departed. I am dismayed by Cardinal Müller’s edict.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Regelous

Witham, Essex

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection