"We're going to continue looking after families" - Funeral director reacts to Vatican cremation ruling

Vatican's new rulings met by mixed reaction

Vatican, clerical child abuse, guidelines, bishops, reporting, Maeve Lewis, Tony Anatrella

A priest holds ashes during the Ash Wednesday mass, in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican | Image: Alessandra Tarantino / AP/Press Association Images

A leading funeral director in Dublin has called the Vatican's rulings on cremation a "surprise".

David Fanagan, director of Fanagan's Funeral Homes, says that he has had "no issue" with Irish Catholic clergy regarding cremations in Ireland.

"My initial response to the ruling is surprise", he told Newstalk. "The number of people opting for cremations has been on the rise since the first crematorium opened in Glasnevin in 1982. 30% of people in Dublin are cremated, and we're looking at a figure of 11% nationally."

"Most families opt to have the ashes buried in sacred ground in a cemetery anyway, and it's all done in good taste. We've had no problem with the clergy - nobody's been jumping up and down."

The Vatican has published new instructions on cremation, ordering Catholics to keep ashes in a sacred place rather than at home.

The remains of the faithful should be left in consecrated ground such as a cemetery plot, the ruling says.

Church authorities also state that ashes must not be scattered in the air, on land or at sea, nor preserved in mementos, pieces of jewellery or other objects.

Fanagan went on to say that they will "continue looking after bereaved families", unless the Church reacts "in a very confrontational way".

Discussing whether the rulings would result in people turning away from cremation, Mr Fanagan offered several analogies.

"I think the Church also has views on contraception - how is that looking for them? If people choose to be cremated, it doesn't make them any lesser than someone who chooses to buried."

Meanwhile, editor of The Irish Catholic Michael Kelly says the ruling raises questions about the relationship between Irish people and the Church.

"We're in this in two minds in Ireland, because we rage against the Catholic church but yet it's the thing we turn to for rituals as well", Michael Kelly said on The Pat Kenny Show. "I think people probably need to be a bit more creative. I think the difficulty is that it so much a part of our heritage here. We're not really familiar with other traditions so people don't, perhaps, embrace other traditions."