08/22/2014, 00.00
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Kerala: Syro-Malabar bishops to allow Catholic cremation

The decision is partly due to shrinking burial space. The Synod calls on the faithful to continue "offering" prayers for the dearly departed, whilst using public crematoriums for the last rites.

Kochi (AsiaNews/Agencies) - In Kerala, the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church announced yesterday that is has decided to allow its faithful to cremate the bodies of the deceased, as an alternative to traditional burial. Nonetheless, the "Christian practice of offering prayers for the deceased will be preserved,'' it said in a press release.

Cutting across denominations, all Churches in the state, including Orthodox, Jacobite, Marthoma and Church of South India, are facing the problem of shrinking space in their graveyards.

However, the Syro-Malabar Church's move was not a direct consequence of the burial space crunch, said its official spokesman, Fr Paul Thelakat.

"Both cremation and burial present problems. While burial requires space, consigning bodies into flames can cause environmental problems if carried out in private places. Only public crematoriums have facilities to conduct such last rites without environmental consequences,'' Fr Thelakat said.

Cremation, the priest explained, "was allowed under canon law in exceptional cases, although burial remains the most accepted form of the funeral rite in Christianity."


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