The head of the Varna diocese of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Yoan, has spoken out against the construction of a crematorium in the Black Sea city.
The ground-breaking for the crematorium was carried out on May 28, a fact that Yoan described as “tragic, unfortunate and terrible”.
Metropolitan Yoan said that he understood that the municipal leadership had problems in finding new sites for cemeteries in increasingly populated cities.
However, crematoria were not the solution because they would remove the age-old Christian tradition of burial of the deceased and would lead to “eradicating the customs of the people”.
The building of the crematorium was being imposed by business interests and the diocesan leadership could not be silent on the issue, Yoan said.
Yoan called on the municipality to seek a solution to the problem in dialogue with the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. One solution, he said, was for people who had not been born in Varna to be buried in their places of birth.
He cited Orthodox Christian belief in the resurrection of the body. The human body, he said, was “not a prison for the soul…the bodies will rise and inherit the kingdom of God or the fires of hell”.
“When a Christian wants his body to be burned, he shows that he does not believe in the value that the body has, does not respect it, rejects the resurrection of the body, being influenced by various foreign heretical teachings. This is a dogmatic problem,” he said.
The funeral and the caring for the grave was part of people’s expression of love for their deceased relatives and their relationship with the church, Metropolitan Yoan said.