“This is war against the Church” - Greek hierarchs on decision to open first crematorium in Greece


Hierarchs of the Church of Greece have commented on the decision of local authorities to open a crematorium in the city of Patras, reports AgionOros.

Athens, January 21, 2016

Bishop Chrysanthos stressed that “the war against the Church is now being waged openly. Cremation and other manifestations of the new morality (for example, “free cohabitation”, civil partnerships and so on) have nothing to do with the Orthodox tradition of Greece”.

Metropolitan Justin of Kalamaria, commenting on the decision to open the crematorium, said: “Many claim that the Church should care for people’s souls only and leave the body alone. That is not true: the Church cares for the whole human being who is saved in his or her psychosomatic unity, gaining the Divine grace.

The body is holy and sacred for the Church, because it was created by God! The Lord Himself took this body, resurrected and ascended to the Heavens in it. Can there be a greater glory for the body?”

In the hierarch’s view, “cremation of the departed indicates nihilism, unbelief and disrespect, first of all, for the human personality and, therefore, for the Creator”.

Metropolitan Justin expressed the opinion that the main danger for Greece is not in the economic crisis, but in the spiritual and moral one: “Some forces want to goad us into moral lapse. And we, Orthodox Christians, are obliged to oppose this destructive force which is striving to raze everything to the ground. We need to oppose those who are seeking to impose alien morals on us, to enslave our small country with foreign ideology.”

Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Patras in his address to the flock emphasized the inconsistency of cremation with the teaching of the Orthodox Church: “God created man in His own image, as a psychosomatic unity. The union between the soul and the body is holy, and it is no coincidence that Apostle Paul calls our body ‘a temple of the Holy Spirit’…

“When separated from the soul, the body does not become a corpse, as is the case with dumb animals, but it becomes ‘relics’.

“Cremation of the dead demonstrates nihilism, while burial shows respect for the personality of the deceased…

“In the end, cremation of human bodies is a sign of lack of faith in resurrection.”

 Reference by *AgionOros.ru *

The Church of Greece has always spoken up against introducing cremation. Cremation of the dead, allowed in a number of oriental religious traditions and accepted for atheists, contradicts the Christian practice of burying the deceased in the ground. Christians are waiting for the Second Coming of Christ and the Resurrection of the dead, and they consider that cremating a human body is unacceptable.

It is obvious that, when speaking about “the forces that are blocking the building of crematoria,” the Greek liberals above all mean the Church of Greece, whose authority is still very strong among the Greek population. That is why the overwhelming majority of Greek city councils, pleading “the possible worsening of the ecological situation,” are blocking the government law that provides for building of crematoria.

The official stand of the Church of Greece is reflected in the resolution of the Holy Synod of May 12, 2010:

  1. The Church knows and suggests to Orthodox Christians the only way of disintegration of a dead body is its burial, which is in accordance with the teaching of the Holy Church and many centuries of Church tradition.

  2. The Church does not object to cremation of dead bodies of representatives of other religions or heterodox Christians.

The opinion of the Church of Greece is shared by other Local Orthodox Churches. According to Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) of Nafpaktos and Agios Vlasios, “the entire funeral service is directly related to burial of a body and not burial of ashes. Thus, we come to the conclusion that the funeral service should be performed neither before cremation nor after it. In the first case there will not be the actual burial of the body, and in the second case there will be no body – only ashes.”

Article link: pravoslavie.ru/english/89893.htm

Sources: agioritikovima.gr



I always thought our former Catholic practice of not allowing cremation of remains was a venerable one.


Then again, land is rather short in Greece and with so many non-Orthodox Christians now there, I am not surprised.



Our life force is our soul, not our bodies. That is what returns to God, the body is just a vehicle to carry us on our journey through life. If our bodies were sacred and needed to be preserved, they wouldn’t rot after death in the first place.


Methinks you misunderstand the role of our bodies in the faith.

We die and decompose because as a punishment, we are subjected to the law of entropy. But we were always meant to be embodied, and the Church has always taught to treat the dead human body with the dignity of the human being who once was and who will be again.

In the Roman church, cremation is allowed for public-health or land-use reasons. But even then, the ashes are to be respected in the same manner as the body they once were. “Scattering” of ashes is a denial of Resurrectional, bodily life.



If I understand you correctly, in a sense you are right there, but immortality is not of itself part of our human nature, it was a gift we lost as punishment:

[FONT=“Times New Roman”]“The three gifts of bodily immortality, integrity and infused knowledge are called preternatural because they are not strictly due to human nature”–Father John Hardon[/FONT]


Or maybe you meant that with:

we are subjected to the law of entropy.



The church allows it as long as the reasons for it aren’t contrary to church teachings.



Beautifully concise. Pray for Bishop Chrysanthos. Christian practices regarding the dead are a response to the reality that we will get our body back, for better or for worse, at the end of time. It’s part of the Christian worldview, and that’s what this push for cremation is attacking. When non-essential customs begin to be overturned, it’s only a matter of time before essential doctrines are threatened.

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