According to a circular issued by the diocese, the ashes should be buried as per religious practices after the cremation.

Dead Body of COVID death patient being taken to ambulance Image for Representation
Coronavirus Coronavirus Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - 07:34

Amid societal stigma surrounding COVID-19 victims and patients, the Alappuzha Latin Catholic diocese has decided to cremate the bodies of parishioners who succumb to the disease at their respective church cemetery. The new rule by the diocese will be applicable to all churches that fall under it. Christian churches usually do not allow cremation.

For perhaps the first time in the state, Thresiamma, a COVID-19 patient who succumbed to the disease, was cremated at the Mararikulam St Augustine church on Tuesday. While the body was cremated, priests conducted the last rites at the other end of the cemetery.

The diocese has decided to cremate the bodies of the patients by following the COVID-19 protocol. According to a circular issued by the diocese, the ashes should be buried as per religious practices after the cremation.

The diocese allows believers to cremate the body in other crematoriums, after which the ashes can be brought to the parish church where they can bury according to the religious practices.

“We have permission from Rome to cremate bodies earlier itself. All Catholic churches were permitted. But we followed traditional burial all these years. But, considering the present situation that there are many issues with the cremation of COVID-19 patients, we have decided to take this decision. This will be helpful to the district administration also. This is a historical decision in India,” Father Xavier, spokesperson of the Alappuzha diocese, told the media.

He added that the cremation will be held only for COVID-19 patients and for others, the traditional way of burial will be followed.

As per protocol, the burial place should be dug 12-feet deep for the body of a COVID-19 patient to be buried. Father Xavier pointed out that in Alappuzha, most places would not be able to dig that deep owing to groundwater. So cremation was the only option for the church, he said.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the decision by the diocese was inspirational and can be followed by others.

Also Read: Funeral of COVID-19 victim in Kottayam stopped by residents, peace talks fail

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