Catholic Bishop in Ahmedabad proposes cremation of deceased in Corona times


The Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Ahmedabad has urged the Catholic church to opt for cremation of a deceased faithful, looking at the rising number of Covid-19 deaths in the state, and also the space crunch in the cemeteries.

In a letter to the church, the Bishop has clarified that the Holy Mother Church teaches that the departed Catholics can either be buried or cremated.

In the letter, the Bishop of the Diocese of Ahmedabad, Athanasius Rethna Swamy, wrote, “The increasing number of deaths poses a unique challenge to the church in administering the last rites of the departed ones in a dignified manner. There is also the question of dwindling space in our cemeteries. In this context, there are questions about the options of cremation in the Catholic church. This is to clarify this question.”

The Bishop further wrote, “The Holy Mother Church teaches that departed Catholics can either be buried or cremated. This is unequivocally spelled in the ‘Instruction Ad resurgendum-cum-Christo regarding the burial of the deceased and the conservation of ashes in the case of cremation’ issued on August 15, 2016 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.”

Quoting the the fourth point of the instruction, the Bishop wrote: “In circumstances when cremation is chosen because of sanitary, economic or social considerations, this choice must never violate the explicitly-stated or the reasonably inferable wishes of the deceased faithful. The church raises no doctrinal objections to this practice, since cremation of the deceased body does not affect his or her soul nor does it prevent God, in his omnipotence, from raising of the deceased’s body to new life. Thus, cremation, in and of itself, objectively negates neither the Christian doctrine of the soul’s immortality nor that of the resurrection of the body (CDF, Instruction Piam et constantem, July 5, 1963).”

The Bishop has expressed that cremation should become a preferred option for the Catholics, who die of Covid in terms of hygiene and also cognisance of scarcity of space in some of the cemeteries.

He has ensured the church that “the ashes will be preserved in the niches of the cemetery with full dignity in the presence of the priest who will ensure that it is done according to the church burial ritual”.