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If you are Catholic, can you have a green burial?

A “green burial” calls to many people as a purer spiritual and fundamentally human experience. These burials avoid the use of embalming fluids, synthetic caskets and excessive resources. But is it possible to do this in line with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church?

As it happens, the two work well together. The complicating factor is the role of individual cemeteries.

How do green burials agree with the Church’s teachings?

Different churches, archdioceses and religious orders within Catholicism have different opinions on burial traditions. However, many see green burial practices as in line with the teachings of the Church.

Often, green burials use organic burial shrouds and caskets rather than embalming fluid and burial vaults. The latter came into popularity only within the last century. You could argue that green burials are truer expressions of humility and stewardship of the planet.

Also, green burials have a spectrum of options to choose from. You can choose a combination of options that fit your needs and preferences.

Do all cemeteries allow green burials?

If you or a loved one clarify in your will that you want a green burial, many cemeteries can work to accommodate your wishes. The Green Burial Council is a non-profit group that recognizes cemeteries and funeral homes for their environmentally-conscious efforts and products.

You can schedule meetings with cemetery representatives to verify that they support green practices or are willing to start doing so. While some cemeteries are exclusively non-embalming, many traditional cemeteries can become hybrid cemeteries and accommodate both practices.

Interest for green burials is growing nationwide, and many facilities are willing to meet the market. These include religious-based cemeteries. It is your right to choose how you would like to be buried, and that includes your right to refuse to be embalmed.

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