At one time the Church opposed cremation because of the anti-religious beliefs of some of its proponents: denial of immortality and resurrection. However, the Church no longer forbids the practice. And in Korea, among religious groups, close to 70 percent opt for cremation.
Cremation and the new burial procedures that come with the new burial
culture was the topic of a recent Peace Weekly editorial. Because
acquiring land for
cemeteries is no longer possible, the priests' council of the Seoul
Archdiocese decided to include, in the
burial plot for priests at the main diocesan cemetery, a mausoleum
for the interred remains of priests. Standard burial procedures would
usual, but after twenty years the remains would be removed, cremated,
and placed in the mausoleum. The cremation procedure will begin with the
interment of priests, a decision by the archdiocese that was very much
praised by the editorial.
Hopefully, this will be the start in the diocese of a new burial
culture among the parishioners, as well. The many cemeteries within the diocese
are now filled, and the only possibility left is to convert these
cemeteries to this form of burial. The example of the priests should
help the parishioners to take a more informed look at what is now being done, which should help them see the need
for the cremation procedure.
Although there are many problems
associated with conventional burials, few cemeteries are interested
in changing over to mausoleums and crypts. The main reason is
the opposition of many Koreans; death is not a subject they, or anyone,
for that matter, like to think about. If, however, the new burial
culture does catch on here and more mausoleums are built, which are
often beautifully constructed, these buildings alone may help us
experience more directly how death and life are part of existence.
example of the Seoul Archdiocese should help make cremation a more
acceptable option than it currently is for many Koreans; that was the
hope expressed by the editorial, adding that visiting these mausoleums
may also be a spur to increasing their growth in spiritual maturity and spreading the new burial culture throughout the country.