Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cremation or buriel?

The Rochester Catholic Courier had an interesting article entitled, "Cremation sees surge in popularity" which it published on 11/04/08. Here is a snippet from the article:
Not so long ago, the Catholic Church frowned upon cremation. That time has passed, however, and cremation has not only gained acceptance in the church, but in the past decade has seen a surge in popularity, according to Jim Weisbeck, executive director of Rochester's Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Twelve years ago cremations accounted for just 10 percent of the deaths Holy Sepulchre handled each year, Weisbeck said. That number doubled in just a decade, with cremations currently accounting for 20 percent of deaths the cemetery handles, he said.

"That 20 percent number has held steady for the past two to three years," he added.

This represents a significant shift in Catholics' attitudes regarding cremation since 1963, when the Vatican first ruled that cremation was permissible for Catholics as long as they had not chosen cremation as an expression of disbelief in the Resurrection and the sacredness of the human body. Prior to 1963, cremation was considered a sign of aversion to the church and its beliefs, and the 1917 Code of Canon Law denied a Catholic funeral liturgy to Catholics choosing cremation.

Church teaching still requires that cremated remains be buried or entombed. These remains must be given the same respect as the body, so they cannot be scattered, kept in a home or divided among family members, according to the New York State Catholic Conference.

Catholics are not the only ones rethinking their attitudes about cremation. In fact, the rate of cremation is even higher among the general public than among Catholics, according to the Cremation Association of North America. About 28 percent of U.S. deaths resulted in cremation in the year 2002, compared to 35 percent in 2007, and the association projects that more than 50 percent of deaths will result in cremation by 2025.

"In some western states it is (already) over 50 percent, and as high as 80 percent in Hawaii and Washington," Weisbeck said.

There are at least 3 advantages to cremation: it's cheaper, greener, and the remains are more mobile.

I don't know if there is a history of preference in Unitarian Universalism. Does anyone? If you know, leave a comment and reference.

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