Thrissur Archbishop Mar Andrews Thazath issued a circular allowing cremation of Christian COVID-19 deaths in case of space constraints for burial.

Thrissur Archdiocese allows cremation of COVID-19 victimsImage for representation only
news Coronavirus Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - 14:02

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the Thrissur Archdiocese has allowed the cremation of Christian patients who succumb to COVID-19, in situations where there are space constraints for burying bodies.

Thrissur Archbishop Mar Andrews Thazath issued a circular on Monday.

“If there is no space in the cemetery, the body can be cremated with the support of family members. The remains (ashes) should be buried in the Church cemetery,” the circular reads.

The Bishop also added that cremation was not against Christian beliefs. Paragraph 2301 of the Catechism, the text of the Catholic Church, upholds cremation if it does challenge the basic premise of resurrection of the body.

“The Latin Church and Canon Law (CCEO 8763) also allowed this. In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, cremation is more practical and allowed,” reads the circular.

Speaking to TNM, Thrissur Archdiocese Public Relations Officer Father Nyson stated that the church was not asking the laity to cremate bodies of COVID-19 patients. “This is just an option that is open and that is not against Christian beliefs, in case families face space constraints in church cemeteries. Especially during the pandemic, several churches outside of Kerala were opting for cremation. The diocese of Irinjalakuda too has now allowed cremation,” Father Nyson added. 

The circular further states that if there is no space in church cemetery, the body should be buried in any place owned by the church. However, the remains should be shifted to the cemetery or family tombs within two or three years, according to the circular.

“To assure burial in the present scenario the church officials can consider the cemetery of other churches or even at house compounds. The new burial system is only applicable in the COVID-19 pandemic period. The mortal remains buried in this manner should be shifted back to the respective church cemetery in two years,” says the circular.

“The Church authorities should follow the directions of the government, police and health department while conducting the funeral of COVID-19 deaths. If there is space in the cemetery of the church, the burial can be conducted there,” reads the circular.

Church sources confirmed the new circular after uncertainties that followed the funeral of Chalakudy native Dinny Chacko (32). Dinny tested positive for coronavirus and passed away in Thrissur last week. However, parishioners and church officials of St Sebastian Church, Thachuparambu, had objected to the burial. Following this, the Thrissur district collector S Shanavas intervened in the issue and conducted the burial as per protocol following a two-day delay.

(With inputs from Sreedevi Jayarajan)