In a four-page note addressed to “the people” that will be circulated in churches in the coming days, the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece announced it will not hold funeral services for those who are cremated, equating the practice with a “desecration of the dead.”
It stressed that the Church forces no one to adhere to its traditions but has the right to view cremation as something opposed to its principles, traditions and customs. For this reason, it added, those who chose cremation will not receive a church funeral service.
Referring to the issue of overcrowded cemeteries, it said the problem can be resolved with the creation of new ones. It also dismissed as “childish” the criticism that the Church rejects cremations because it stands to lose profit.
Before Wednesday, the Church had officially declared its opposition to the practice of cremations twice. In 2014, it issued a circular stating that “the Church does not accept the cremation of the body for its members” and that “the cremation of the body is incompatible with the practices and traditions of the Church for theological, canonical and anthropological reasons.”
The Holy Synod reiterated the Church’s opposition in 2016.
Since the country’s first crematorium started operating in Ritsona on the island of Evia in early October, more than 100 Greeks and foreign nationals have been cremated.