ATHENS – The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece issued a brochure called To The People (Προς τον Λαόν) about cremation stating that “dead bodies are not garbage. They are not useless objects that must be handed over to fire and fragmentation, that is to say, to a violent extinction.”
The Holy Synod emphasizes in its brochure its opposing stance on the burning of dead bodies and cremation as a method of burial.
In the four-page brochure, which will be distributed in the churches in the coming days in the Archdiocese of Athens and also by the local Metropolises, the Holy Synod describes the modern method of “a euphemistically [named] cremation” and its stages in the burning of the dead and the pulverization of the human skeleton in a special mixer that converts bones into powder. This powder is the final product of this process which for the Church “it is not much different from waste recycling.”
The Holy Synod also points out that “The Church as a community of freedom does not force any person to follow her traditions. But she has the right to regard cremation as a practice contrary to its principles, tradition and customs” and for this reason “obviously those who do not want to follow the tradition of the Church have the right to choose cremation, but they will not receive a Funeral Service in the Church.”
According to the brochure, “The Church views the human body as sacred calling it the temple of the Holy Spirit”.
It is also stated that “a fine example of the sanctity of the human body is the veneration of the holy relics of the Saints. Burial belongs to the tradition of the Church, which, based on Evangelical and Patristic teaching, respects the human body as a creation of God, therefore the buried body becomes an object of care and prayer.”
The Holy Synod also responds to the arguments that the cremation of the dead is a more honorable practice than the abusive treatment that has been reported for some saturated cemeteries that impose high fees, or perform exhumations in a manner that does not honor the dead. “The answer to that argument should be the requirement to improve conditions in municipal cemeteries, to establish new cemeteries, to have honorable, decent and humane treatment of the dead and their relatives rather than cremation.”