Bulgarian bishop taking a stand against crematorium

Varna, Bulgaria, June 1, 2018

Photo: www.mitropolia-varna.org Photo: www.mitropolia-varna.org
His Eminence Metropolitan Ioann of Varna of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church has spoken out against the crematorium that is being built in his city. The hierarch called the groundbreaking ceremony, held on Thursday, “tragic, unfortunate, and terrible,” reports the Sofia Globe.

The site is expected to be opened in February or March of next year, the bishop notes in his address, available in Bulgarian on the Bulgarian Church’s site.

While the bishop says he understands that there are issues with finding new sites for cemeteries in overly-populated cities, crematoria are not the answer, he affirms, as they would represent an eradication of the people’s customs.

Other Orthodox nations, such as Greece, have grappled with the same issue.

The Orthodox Church has firmly stood against cremation for 2,000 years, upholding the dignity of the human body, as the temple of the Holy Spirit, made in the image of God, and awaiting the glorious resurrection at Christ’s Second Coming. About 60% of Bulgarians identify as members of the Orthodox Church.

“The holy Orthodox Church believes that the construction of a crematorium or the construction of such facilities is a sin and blasphemy,” Met. Ioann writes.

Hierarchs of the Greek Church have characterized the building of a crematorium in Patras as “war against the Church.” The Church of Cyprus announced in April 2016, that it will not celebrate funerals for those who have been cremated.

“When a Christian wants his body to be burned, he shows that he does not believe in the value that the body has, does not respect it, rejects the resurrection of the body, being influenced by various foreign heretical teachings. This is a dogmatic problem,” he says.

He also points to the funeral of the Lord Himself as an example to follow. Christ’s body was treated with the utmost respect and reverence, being wrapped in fine linen and anointed with costly ointments.

The bishop noted that the crematorium is being imposed by business interests, but that the municipality should seek other solutions to the problem in dialogue with the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, such as people not born in Varna being buried in their places of birth.

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