The mayors of Athens and Thessaloniki, Giorgos Kaminis and Yiannis Boutaris, have joined forces in an appeal for cremation to be allowed in Greece, an option that has been enacted by law but never fulfilled amid opposition from the Church of Greece, among others.
In an announcement issued by the Municipality of Thessaloniki and signed by both mayors, they appealed to the government to include legislation removing the last obstacles for cremation facilities in an omnibus bill drafted by the Environment Ministry.
"It is with surprise that we have once more seen 'invisible forces' preventing the country from adapting to international standards and from respecting every citizen's right of choice," Kaminis and Boutaris wrote in their joint statement on Wednesday.
Lawmakers only approved legislation allowing for the cremation of the dead to take place in Greece in 2006, the first time in the country’s history, even though cremation has been allowed since 1884 in the UK, where cremations are currently estimated to represent 50 percent of total funerals, and since 1887 in France.
The new law permitted the cremation of people who request this method instead of burial as long as their religion also allows it. The law still forbids cremation for Orthodox Christians as the Church of Greece opposes the practice for believers, arguing that Orthodox traditions only allow for burial.