My secular humanist husband tells me that I cannot donate my body to science as a Catholic? True?

Not true. Catholics may donate their bodies to science. However, it does require some special logistics for the funeral and burial. This is not hard to do since most tissue banks are very appreciative of the donation and work very hard to respect the wishes of the family. The Catholic funeral rite has three parts: the Vigil, the Funeral Mass, and the Burial Rite. The Vigil and the Funeral Mass can happen soon after your death, with or without the body, depending on the type of donation. However, the Burial Rite may take place much later. It is required that when they have finished with your body that your remains be given a Christian burial. Bodies which have been donated to science are always cremated. As such, the cremated remains are to be buried or entombed whole and intact with a suitable memorial marker. They should not be scattered. This is done out of respect for our belief in the resurrection of the dead. For more information, go to the site of the American Association of Tissue Banks at http://www.aatb.org/. Here is also an interesting article on the web on how to donate your body to science.

Rev. Leo A. Walsh, S.T.D.

Rev. Leo A. Walsh, S.T.D.

The Rev. Leo A. Walsh, S.T.D., formerly the Interreligious Affairs specialist at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is now pastor of St. Benedict's Parish in Anchorage, Alaska. Photo Credit: Bob Roller, Catholic News Service (CNS).


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