The Synod of Kerala-based Syro-Malabar Catholic Church has decided that from now on bishops of various dioceses can permit cremation of the dead, instead of the traditional burial.
Although the Church had allowed cremation under extra-ordinary situations, the right to permit that practice was till vested with the Major Archbishop, the head of the Syro-Malabar Church.
Church spokesman Fr Paul Thelakkattu said the Synod, which met in Kochi the other day, decided to confer that power to local bishops.
“The canon law of the Catholic Church allows cremation, which has been in vogue in Western countries. Now, the Major Archbishop’s right has been given to bishops of respective dioceses,” said Thelakkattu.
The Kochi-based Syro-Malabar Catholic Church has 31 dioceses, most of them in Kerala.
The spokesman said if a person wants cremation, he or his family members can approach their local diocese bishop for permission. This is not meant to popularise cremation, but wanted to simplify the procedure.
He said there was not much takers for cremation in Kerala from Catholic followers. “I know only one incident in Alappuzha in Kerala, where a person wanted cremation. It was allowed.”
He said the funeral service would remain the same, but the place of cremation could be decided after consultation. “Since the idea of cremation has not become a hit among the Catholics, we did not think on that aspect,” said the priest.