31 March 2005

Media reports regarding cremation and the Catholic Church

Throughout the tragic Schiavo ordeal, most have been greatly disappointed with the irresponsible reporting by the cable news networks and other 24-hour news outlets. Now as a family struggle emerges over how to lay Terri Schiavo to rest, the media is falsely reporting statements regarding Catholic dogma.

Another dispute between Michael Schiavo and Terri's parents is emerging. Following an autopsy by the Chief Medical Examiner representing Pinellas County, Michael would like to have Terri's body cremated, while the parents claim that this would be against their Catholic faith. The media continues to broadcast this claim, which is blatantly false.

For many centuries, the Catholic Church opposed the cremation of deceased Catholics. This is, however, no longer the case. In 1963 on the eve of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI and the Holy Office issued the following statement: "Cremation does not affect the soul nor prevent God's omnipotence from restoring the body; neither then, does it in itself include an objective denial of ... dogma. The issue is not therefore an intrinsically evil act, opposed per se to the Christian religion."

In the Code of Canon Law, 1985, the Catholic Church clarifies its position by stating, "The Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom of burial be retained; but it does not forbid cremations, unless this is chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching."

Additionally, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "The Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body."

The media should not choose sides on this issue; however, they have an obligation to report the truth. If the parents wish that Terri's body not be cremated, the media has an obligation to report those wishes. The media, however, has an obligation to prevent false information from being disseminated via their network.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Catholic, I am glad that you posted this information. I thought that what were saying was wrong, but I wasn't sure. The media has done a disgusting job through this whole ordeal.

12:50:00 PM  

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