The Romanian Orthodox Church and issues of cremation

Authored by: Marius Rotar

The Routledge Handbook of Death and the Afterlife

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138682160
eBook ISBN: 9781315545349
Adobe ISBN:


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One of the specificities of the actual Romanian death system is the poor development of cremation: there are three functional crematoria in Romania, a country with 19 million inhabitants, and the percentage of cremation is 0.37% of deaths per year (2016). This occurs in spite of the fact that Romania was a pioneer of cremation in South-Eastern Europe during the interwar period. Moreover, Romania was the first country where a crematorium was opened in 1928, even if the Orthodoxy represented the main denomination of the population (by comparison, the Soviet case is totally different). This chapter focuses on the intricate relations between the issues of cremation and the Romanian Orthodox Church during the last two centuries. According to the Romanian Orthodox Church Synods’ decisions (1928, 1933, and 2012) cremation is banned and the orthodox priests who perform religious service at the cremation assumes the risk to be defrocked. Under these conditions, this chapter analyzes from the historical point of view, the Romanian Orthodox Church’s reasons for such attitude, in the general context.

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