The Church of Cyprus will refuse to carry out a funeral service if it knows beforehand that the deceased wants to be cremated, Arhcbishop Chrysostomos said on Friday.
“It is a human right for one to want to be cremated,” he said. “It is their business. The Church does not intend to carry out a service for a person who will declare from before that they want to be cremated.”
Years after it was submitted, parliament on Thursday approved legislation allowing cremations.
Individuals wishing to be cremated must register their preference in life, and not after death by their relatives.
In addition, in order for such a preference to be valid, a person must have expressly indicated that this preference is their exclusive right.
Chrysostomos said it was someone’s democratic right, but the Church also had a democratic right.
“I think we all have rights but we also have obligations. I unequivocally declare that we won’t be carrying out a funeral service,” he said.
The archbishop wondered why the Church had to respect someone who did not respect the temple of the Holy Spirit, referring to a person’s body.
“If we know beforehand we won’t be carrying out a funeral. Especially if they themselves say they want to be cremated.”
He said God may be magnanimous but “they ought to respect what was given to them by God. Inside us we have the Holy Spirit.
People should look after their body and spirit, he added.
During discussion of the bill, the Church had voiced its opposition to cremation, but said its position stemmed not from dogma but rather from the need to “preserve tradition.”
The Church, which stands to lose financially from cremations, argued that burial serves the purpose of fulfilling the need of relatives to visit the grave of a dearly departed, adding that this ritual offered them solace