CHICAGO (AP) — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has opened its first cremation garden.

The garden at All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines was created because of the growing number of Catholics choosing to be cremated when they die, the Chicago Tribune reported (http://trib.in/2ujYVtV ).

Last fall, the Vatican issued a decree that ashes should be preserved in church-sanctioned sacred spaces, and not be kept in an urn or scattered. The new decree restates the Catholic church's preference for whole-body burial over cremation because of its belief in resurrection of the body.

"These regulations are designed to give you, the faithful, the sense of peace that can only come from knowing that your loved one is in such care and their human remains are interred in sacred ground," wrote Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich in a pamphlet given at the garden's opening.

The archdiocese's landscaped oasis, which had its blessing ceremony July 10, is about a quarter of an acre and is located outside of a mausoleum.

Ted Ratajczyk, director of cemetery services for the archdiocese, said over the years the cemetery accepted many cremated remains for burial, but didn't have a designated place to put them.

"There are people who keep it in their home because they may not know what to do," Ratajczyk said. "They may be torn about what to do."

Cremation was forbidden in the Catholic faith for centuries, but became acceptable in 1963, as long as it wasn't to defy church teachings. The Catholic church has allowed ashes to be present during a funeral liturgy since 1997.

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Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com