Monday, October 14, 2013

Flemish ban crematorium Masses's Flemish bishops have instructed their priests to stop saying Mass for the dead at crematoriums and celebrate funeral services only in church.

Priests could only say a short prayer at a crematorium, similar to a prayer at a graveside, they said.

The purpose of the order, which comes into effect in 2015, was not against crematoriums but to "bring people back into the churches", said Brussels Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard. 

Four out of 10 funeral Masses in Flanders are now said in crematoriums.

In a letter explaining the move, the bishops said they had authorised prayers at crematoriums in 1993 and 2003 but this was interpreted as allowing Mass, even though the premises are devoid of Christian symbols and cut off from the deceased's local parish community.

Moving funerals away from churches risked emptying the ritual of its context and meaning, they said.

The bishops' letter made clear the Church was not rejecting cremation or withdrawing its priests from ceremonies at a crematorium. 

No decision on Masses at crematoriums in French-speaking Wallonia has yet been made.