Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], April 16 (ANI): With an increasing number of COVID casualties and the subsequent shortage of burial sites, the Catholic Diocese of Ahmedabad have been prompted to tell its adherents to consider the cremation of coronavirus victims.
Bishop Athanasius Rethna Swamy issued a letter on April 12 suggesting that the cremation of the people who have died with COVID-19 can be an option.
"We are aware of the unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases in Gujarat and the whole country. A large number of deaths due to Covid-19 has been reported daily. An increase in the number of deaths poses a unique challenge to the Church in administering the last rites to the departed ones in a dignified manner," he said in the letter.
The church raises no doctrinal objections to this practice in the pandemic because the cremation of the deceased's body does not affect his or her soul, the letter said.
The Bishop's letter further quoted the Vatican's 'Instruction Ad resurgendum cum Christo' regarding the burial of the deceased and the conservation of the ashes in the case of cremation, issued in August 2016. Another citation in the letter about cremation is the 'Instruction Piam et Constantem' of July 1963.
"Cremation becomes a preferred option for the Catholics who die of Covid in terms of hygiene and in cognizance of the scarcity of space in some of our cemeteries," the Bishop's letter said.
"The ashes will be preserved in the niches of the cemetery with full dignity in the presence of a priest who makes sure that it is done according to the church burial ritual."
However, if family members still request for the burial of the departed ones who have died of COVID-19, they may seek necessary permissions to bury in the cemeteries of Sabarmati or Vatva. (ANI)