Good Lord, how the times change…
When I was a child, cremation was actually not contemplated by your mainstream Italian (churchgoing or not) and from what I seem to understand not allowed in principle, though I think no one really cared. As to keeping them in urns at home, this is something you saw in American movies, and cringed.
If you want to know in what confused times we live, you can read here Italian Catholics are now not allowed to scatter the ashes or to have an urn at home.
If you read the article, you will notice a rather important thing: the mention of “burying the dead” as a work of mercy is not even mentioned.
Instead, we are treated with this beautiful snippet of post-Vatican II thinking: the Church will not defend a custom honoured by the centuries, and will happily allow Catholics to import masonic/protestant ways as long as long as they don’t do it in order to show hostility to the Church or loss of faith in the Resurrection.
Now, I understand this is not a doctrinal point, but come on: how can the Church hope to reinstate Catholic sanity, if she does not insist on traditional Catholic practices?
We see, once again, the equivocal mentality of the Vatican, in which a certain push or encouragement for the embracing of Catholicism goes together with a lack of courage to walk the walk after one has talked the talk.
So we see the Pontiff, and many others, insist on the loss of religious feeling, the growing consumerism, the void left by the abandoning of a healthy religious life. It just doesn’t seem to occur them to think that Catholicism has always maintained that this religious life is nourished and made more robust by countless practices and customs which, though not obligatory in themselves taken singularly, all together constitute the backbone of the Catholic life of a country.
It is very much like V II to think that a tepidly Catholic man or woman can be recovered to a traditional Catholic thinking, if the Church does not insist in a traditional catholic acting. This intimate union of spiritual life and everyday practices has always been a great strenght of Catholicism, and your grand-grandmother would even considered a life without Vespers or Rosary as deprived of a spiritual leg, even if – undoubtedly – there can be life without a leg. And would have told you, without the shadow of a doubt and without caring of what post Vatican II priests think, that to cremate bodies is un-Catholic, period; something you do only in case of absolute emergency, like pestilence; and which you otherwise do with rubbish or, in case, dogs.
The kindest thing I can say of this initiative is that it is not good enough, and shows a rather worrying love for gradualism in the best of cases, and a disregard for Catholic traditions and for works of mercy in the worst.
In case of doubt, always think WWMCGGT (what would my Catholic grand-grandmother think). Alas, I think this is a much safer guidance to what is authentically Catholic than many “guidelines” and “instructions” of these disgraceful times.