November 6, 2012
Philippines Christians Warm to Cremation
Catholic bishops approve, but frown upon scattering ashes as "irreverent."
When you live on an island, there's only so much available space to bury bodies. And as cemeteries start to fill up in the Philippines, many Filipinos are turning to cremation as a "convenient" and "viable alternative," according to Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop emeritus Oscar Cruz.
Citing "practicality, hygiene, economic conditions of the family or personal choice of the departed," Filipino Catholic bishops have endorsed cremation since 1963, stating that, “Although inhumation is still largely practiced in the Philippines, cremation has been constantly gaining acceptance, especially in urban areas where there are crematoriums.”
But now factors such as traffic, cost, and limited space at cemeteries are forcing Filipinos "to go to a columbarium where the ashes are deposited,” Cruz said.
The Catholic church seems to support cremation as a burial alternative—as long as the ashes are deposited, not scattered. CBCP secretary-general Monsignor Joselito Asis says even personal requests of the deceased to scatter remains should not be granted, because the practice amounts to “disregarding” the deceased.
CT has previously addressed whether or not there is scriptural precedent for cremation, and noted a 2011 Nepal agreement to give Christians a designated cemetery.