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The canon law recognizes for regular orders the right to be buried in the cemetery of their own monastery (Sägmäller, 453; l. Originally, as burial was a spiritual function, it was laid down that no fee could be exacted for this without simony (Decretum Gratiani, xiii, q. Moreover in the case of the very poor he is bound to bury them gratuitously. Only baptized persons have a claim to Christian burial and the rites of the Church cannot lawfully be performed over those who are not baptized.
If a parishioner elected to be buried outside his own parish, a certain proportion, generally a fourth part, of the fee paid or the gifts that might be made in behalf of the deceased on occasion of the burial was to go to the priest of his own parish. Nowadays the principle is still maintained, but generally the payment to the proprius parochus takes the form of the fourth part of a definite burial-fee which is determined according to some fixed tariff (S. Moreover no strict claim can be allowed in the case of those persons who have not lived in communion with the Church according to the maxim which comes down from the time of Pope Leo the Great (448) "quibus viventibus non communicavimus mortuis communicare non possumus" (i.e.
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In defense of the Church's recent prohibitions, it may be urged that the revival of cremation in modern times has in practice been prompted less by considerations of improved hygiene or psychological sentiment than by avowed materialism and opposition to Catholic teaching.
According to the canon law every man is free to choose for himself the burial ground in which he wishes to be interred.
It is not necessary that this choice should be formally registered in his will. Concilii, 24 march, 1871, Lex, 189.) Where no wish has been expressed it will be assumed that the interment is to take place in any vault or burial place which may have belonged to the deceased or his family, and failing this the remains should be buried in the cemetery of the parish in which the deceased had his domicile or quasi-domicile.
Any reasonable legal proof is sufficient as evidence of his wishes in the matter, and it has been decided that the testimony of one witness, for example his confessor, may be accepted, if there be no suspicion of interested motives. Certain exceptions, however, are recognized in the case of cardinals, bishops, canons, etc.Where an old custom existed, the continuance of the payment of this fourth part under certain conditions was recognized by the Council of Trent (Sess. we cannot hold communion in death with those who in life were not in communion with us).