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Lin Woeste wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have a question about the use of eternal reefs for the disposing of cremains after cremation.

  • Are they accepted as a Catholic method of disposal?

I know ashes cannot be scattered or an urn kept in the home of a family member or friend but
I feel an eternal reef is a great idea and was hoping it is acceptable to the Catholic Church.

The cremains are mixed with concrete to form an eternal reef which is then lowered to the ocean floor for fish habitat. All the ashes either can or cannot be mixed with the concrete. I imagine for it to be acceptable to the Church all the ashes will need to be mixed so they remain in one location.

Please let me know the Church's thoughts on this novel idea.

Thank you.


  { Are the use of eternal reefs acceptable by the Church for disposing cremains after cremation? }

John replied:

Hi, Lin —

Thanks for the question.

Nothing should be done with the ashes that might imply a disbelief in the resurrection of the body. That's why the Church doesn't approve the scattering of ashes. Mixing the ashes with cement would seem to fall in the same category.

These eternal reefs are supposedly meant to hold the ashes for ever. If you believe that, then you don't know your Catholic faith. That's a heresy.

The Scriptures say this:

15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; 17 then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

Human beings are the crowning jewel of God's creation.  The human body is unique and should not be treated like fish habitat. The point of not scattering the ashes is two fold:

  1. As I said previously, we believe in the physical resurrection of the body at the end of time so we don't take actions implying we don't believe this.

  2. Secondly, even though they have passed away, we show respect for the remains of the faithful departed. Being a habitat for a lower species (fish) who have no immortal soul, on the lower end of the food chain, is not being respectful nor is mixing the ashes with concrete.


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