by Isi Esene
Apparently, the only place anyone is allowed to burn is in hell.
The Catholic Church has expressed its opposition to a Lagos House of Assembly bill to legalise voluntary cremation of unclaimed dead bodies in the state-owned mortuaries.
The bill has already scaled the second reading on the floor of the House of Assembly. It was sponsored by the Chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Health Care Services, Suru Avoseh.
However, in a statement, the Administrator of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, said it was totally against any move to legalise cremation or the desecration of human corpse in any guise as it believes in life after death.
It asked the House to allow the dead rest in peace by throwing out the proposal.
The Lagos Archdiocesan Director of Social Communications, Very Rev. Monsignor Gabriel Osu, who signed the statement on Okogie’s behalf, advised the lawmakers to jettison the idea and concentrate on building more modern cemeteries to allow for the growing number of unclaimed corpses in the state hospitals.
“As Africans, it is against our culture, and as Christians it is against our religious beliefs. In the Koran, the respect of the dead is very clear. They do not allow the corpse to stay long, not to talk of cremation.
“We believe in the after-life and the need to give the dead proper burial as prescribed in the Bible.
“I do not see any one who would want his corpse or that of loved ones cremated. Already you can see the response of Lagosians during the public hearing. Most of those who spoke are vehemently opposed to it. It is not acceptable at all. My advice is for the lawmakers to quickly jettison the idea and look for better ways of dealing with unclaimed corpses,”
In a bid to convince his colleagues on the bill’s importance, Avoseh said it “addressed the pathetic state of public mortuaries and challenges being faced by health officials due to shortage of land for mass burial of unclaimed corpses.”
He added that: “During our visit to the mortuaries as a member of the ad-hoc committee, I was disturbed to see heaps of corpses that were not claimed by their relatives. So, Lagos should once again take the lead in the introduction of this legislation (cremation) in the country.”