17 January 2007

The wave of the future?

The first Catholic-built crematorium will be in the Diocese of Metuchen in New Jersey.

Why would a Catholic Diocese seek to build a crematorium when bodily burial is very clearly preferred, you ask? Answered the Most Reverend Paul Bootkoski, Bishop of Metuchen:

This is what’s happening today. This is the reality. It is the wave of the future. We’re going along with what our Catholic population is looking for.
Now, many Catholics in the United States favor abortion. Should we allow it? Many Catholics in the United States favor married priests or women priests. Should we allow them? Many Catholics in the United States favor homosexual unions. Should we allow them?

The answer to all of the above questions remains: certainly not. Why, then, build a crematorium when the Church very clearly prefers bodily burial and merely allows – one might even say tolerates – cremation?

Does not the building of a crematorium seem to imply that the Church considers cremation on an equal footing with bodily burial? According to the director of cemeteries for the Diocese of Metuchen, this very question was considered. Russel Demkovitz remarked:

We had to answer, “If we do build a crematorium, will that look like we’re pushing cremation and not following the guidelines of the Church?” The answer is, categorically, no. We’re still in line with the fact that the full body is preferred.
Bishop Bootkoski said that cremation is the “wave of the future,” yet Demkovitz estimated that only 15% of Catholics in the state of New Jersey were cremated. Why, then, bother to build a crematorium?
The Star Ledger reporter Jeff Diamont offers the answer:

The diocese’s decision to build a crematory came about because of this increased demand, and because money from cremations –after the crematory is paid off several years from now – can help support the cemetery.
There you have it: money is the bottom line, yet again. I, for one, am very much opposed to the idea. More on the story here.

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