Here's An Idea! Let's Flush Our Dead!
- Just in from the home front:
Coming to a cemetary near you:
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Belgium: Here's An Idea! Let's Flush Our Dead!
What in heaven's name is going on in Belgium? Have they lost their minds souls? Don't answer that - it's a rhetorical question.
One of the Corporal Works of Mercy is "Bury the dead." This proposal, though, sounds more like an Environmental Work of Lunacy.
*WARNING - some details may not be suitable for the easily squeamish!*
From the DailyMail.co.uk: Belguim Considers Proposals to Dissolve Bodies and Flush Them into Sewage Systems
It could hardly be said to be the most dignified of send-offs. Undertakers in Belgium plan to eschew traditional burials and cremations and start dissolving corpses instead. The move is intended to tackle a lack of burial space and environmental concerns as 573lbs of carbon dioxide are released by each cremated corpse. Under the process, known as resomation, bodies are treated in a steel chamber with potassium hydroxide at high pressure and a temperature of 180c (350f).
The raised pressure and temperature means the body reaches a similar end point as in standard cremation - just bones left to be crushed up - in two to three hours.
Six states in America have passed legislation to allow resomation and the Scottish company behind the technology says it is in talks to allow the process in the UK. Although the ashes can be recycled in waste systems, the residue from the process can also be put in urns and handed over to relatives of the dead like normal ashes from crematorium farewells.
Resomation Ltd was formed in east Glasgow in 2007 and has been in talks with the UK government about using the technology in Britain. The company says on its website: 'The process needs to be approved in each country and/or state before resomation can take place. 'In the UK discussions have already been held with the relevant Ministers and departments within Whitehall in order to progress the use of resomation in the UK. 'Elsewhere across the globe this is a work in progress.'
Sandy Sullivan, founder of The Resomation Company said: 'Resomation offers a new, innovative approach which uses less energy and emits significantly less greenhouse gasses than cremation. 'I am getting a lot of requests from families and we hope it will become legal in Scotland within the year. 'Burial space is running out and I have had lots of people contact me whose loved ones have chosen resomation. 'It's a highly sensitive subject but I think the public are ready for it.'
The name 'Resomation' comes from the Greek word 'Resoma' meaning rebirth of the human body. This is not the "rebirth" of the human body. It is the desecration of the human body. It reduces the body from its exalted position of being made in the image and likeness of God to a mere amalgamation of parts represented as a carbon footprint which is an inconvenience to enviromentalist moonbats.
I guess this is what happens when a society no longer believes in the dignity of the human person. Either kill them before they're born, or kill them when they're old, sick and useless, and then dissolve them away to make room for...well, who, exactly? Folks are either being aborted or euthanized, or sterilizing themselves to prevent pregnancy. Who's going to be left to enjoy the freed up space?
Oh, wait. We're talking about the "environmentally conscious" here. Never mind. This is not a brand new thing. From a 2008 Catholic News Service story, the process had been developed in 1992 to dispose of animal carcasses, and two medical research centers in the US have been using alkaline hydrolysis to dispose of cadavers. It's gaining traction as an alternative to burial and cremation, though - as the Daily Mail reported: "Six states in America have passed legislation..." Which six states?
According to this article from February 2010 in Obit Mag, the six states are Maine, Florida, Minnesota, Oregon, California and Washington (the last three are "inquiring" as of the article's publication. Their legislature's may have approved it by now). The company profiled in the article, bioSAFE Engineering, explains that the process basically liquefies everything except the bones, which can be crushed into a fine ash.
The ashes are often returned to the family - no problem there - but what happens to the "greenish-brown liquid composed of amino acids, sugars and salts"? Here's what the article says: And if you're really dedicated, you can take home those liquid remains and use Grandma to fertilize your garden.
Umm, no thanks. That's just gross - "Grandma loved those roses." "Yep - and now those roses are loving Grandma right back!" Ewwww.
And what happens if you're not that dedicated? Is the goo flushed down the loo? Interestingly, the article doesn't specify. Can't let little details like "How are the non-ash remains are disposed of?" rain on the picnic - that might turn some folks off. Can't imagine why...
Ultimately, though, we need to ask: has the Church spoken up about "bio-cremation", or to use its technical term, alkaline hydrolysis? From the same 2008 CNS article:
In May (2008), Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Doctrine, wrote Archbishop John G. Vlazny of Portland, Ore., that the hydrolysis process produces bone residue that "can easily be crushed into a powder" and returned to the family "just as the ashes are returned to the family after cremation."
"The many gallons of liquid, however, which contain the matter that was the rest of the body, are to be poured down the drain (or perhaps spread on a field as fertilizer)," Bishop Lori wrote. "Dissolving bodies in a vat of chemicals and pouring the resultant liquid down the drain is not a respectful way to dispose of human remains."
While not "official" Church teaching, as it seems to have originated from the USCCB and not the Vatican, the statement had been issued by a bishop, so it does carry moral weight. As Catholics, we are obliged to consider the Church's instruction in matters of prudential judgment - and I think Lori's dead-on with this. Any thinking Catholic ought to see that this process has serious problems.
And while we're at it, let's review official Church teaching on cremation. The Church teaches that cremation is acceptable, as found in paragraph 2301 of the Catechism: The Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body.It is not beyond God's power to reassemble a cremated body on the Last Day, when our souls are reunited with our bodies - besides, we all turn to dust anyway, when you think about it. Cremation just speeds up the process.
The Church teaches that the ashes are not to be scattered to the wind, or dumped in the ocean, or any such similar gesture, just as corpses are not to be left unburied or uncared for, subject to the elements and beasts. Thus, the work of mercy exhorting us to 'bury the dead'. And just as a corpse is buried in a coffin, the ashes are to be contained in a reverent fashion - for instance, my sister's remains are in an urn, held in a mausoleum - but never dispersed. So it makes sense that the Church would be unsupportive of this ecofreakish process, on the basis of the disrespectful means of disposal of the liquid-y parts.
It's "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust", not "Ashes to ashes, sludge gets flushed."
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