The Perpetual Holy Synod of the Church of Greece: On the cremation of the dead
Third meeting of the Synod for the month of January.
On this day, Thursday the 14th of January 2016, the Perpetual Holy Synod of the Church of Greece convened for its third Meeting for the month of January, under the Chairmanship of His Beatitude the Archibishop of Athens and All Greece, Hieronymos.
During today’s meeting:
The Perpetual Holy Synod validated the Minutes of the previous Meeting.
It then studied the pending legislative plan titled “Measures for the acceleration of the Governmental opus and other provisions” where according to its Article 21 each person can select – among other things – the “type of funeral ritual” he desires, and that this declaration is compulsory for all the persons or services “which cater to the burial of the dead”, as long as it doesn’t conflict with “regulations pertaining to public order, hygiene, or morals of decency”.
With the above, general formulation, the religious freedom of the Orthodox Church is being violated, whereby Her priests cannot be bound by law to perform the funeral Service if someone had asked for a religious funeral, but with the same or another declaration has chosen the cremation of his body.
It should be pointed out that during the modern procedure euphemistically known as “cremation” and following the incineration of the mortal remains in a furnace, the human skeleton is thrown into an electric crusher (mixer, cremulator), it is crumbled and pulverized. The Holy Synod refuses to acknowledge that it is dignified for the deceased to be incinerated in a furnace and then be crushed in a mixer, and it does not discern any special differences between modern “cremation” and the “recycling of garbage” process.
The Church regards the human body as a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor.6:19); an element of the human hypostasis, which was fashioned in the image and in the likeness of God (Gen.1:24), and it is for this reason that the Orthodox Christian tradition confronts the dead body, not as “solid waste” - as do the apologists of cremation – but instead, She surrounds it with respect and honour, as an expression of love towards Her reposed member.
Unfortunately, instead of dealing with the operational state of their over-saturated or problematic cemeteries, certain Municipalities hasten to declare themselves prepared for expenses that will cover the purchase of land and equipment necessary for the installation of crematory centres – essentially implying that whoever insists on the tradition of burial will continue to be submitted to derogatory treatment; in other words, they resort to the methodology of amputation instead of curing the problem that is being coercively perpetuated in favour of cremation, so that the latter is advertised as supposedly a dignified method for the deceased, and less costly or macabre for the next of kin.
Within this cadre, and making provision for the Orthodox People, the Holy Synod decided to form a Committee that will be submitting a relative proposal so that there might be a deliberation between the Church and the pertinent State and self-administrating carriers.
The P.H. Synod also studied the other, current official matters.
After the completion of the Meeting, the Very Reverend Metropolitans Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Saint Vlassios, Seraphim of Kastoria, Theologos of Serres and Nigrita, as well as the Special Legal Councellor of the Holy Synod, Mr.Theodore Papageorgiou will visit the Minister of Education and Religions, Mr. Nicholaos Filis, in order to hand him a letter containing the decision of the Holy Synod regarding the teaching of Religious Studies, which decision had adopted the proposal and the suggestion of the Reverend Metropolitan of Nafpaktos and Saint Vlassios, Hierotheos.
By the Perpetual Holy Synod
Translation by A.N.
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