OPINION

The new cremation law

According to Reuters’ report on the new law permitting cremation in Greece (published in your sister publication IHT last week), Orthodox Greeks «can choose cremation as long as they have stated this in writing before their death.» Yet the English edition of Kathimerini says that Orthodox Greeks are not permitted. So which is true? And why was such an important story reported so carelessly? Editor, please respond for the benefit of all of us now who are totally confused. SID KORNBERG, Anavyssos. Please would you clarify the following mutually contradictory reports from Friday, March 3. Firstly, the IHT from Reuters: «Orthodox Greeks can choose cremation as long as they have stated this in writing before their death or their immediate relatives wish it.» Secondly, in Kathimerini English Edition, the report does not clearly state the above, except as implied in «The Orthodox Church says members who request cremation after their deaths can be refused burial ceremonies.» Third, Athens News from the Associated Press: «The law, which human rights groups have long demanded, stressed that cremation would not be available for Orthodox Christians.» Reports 1 and 3 directly contradict each other, while 2 is unclear. ROBERT SKAILES, Palaio Faliron. Now which version should your readers believe, the one in Greek or the one in English? 1. English Edition: «The Church of Greece yesterday welcomed a new law allowing for the cremation of the non-Orthodox Christian dead and suggested it might be softening its stance against the procedure.» 2. Kathimerini: «Church no to cremation.» It seems as if Kathimerini’s one hand does not know what the other is doing. EVA NICHOLAIDOU, via e-mail. Editor replies: On a subject as sensitive as this, laws are often presented in a way in which all sides see what they want (or what they fear) in the way the law is phrased. The legislation concerning cremation, therefore, appears to be ambivalent enough to get past Church of Greece objections. Once cremations begin we will be able to ascertain who is right regarding its ramifications. At present, the news media reflect the confusion.