There is no Crematorium in Greece.
Because of opposition from the Greece Orthodox Church, ashes cannot be buried on consecrated ground.
Cremation could be legalised in Greece if Parliament approves a bill to amend the old-fashioned Burial Law that currently bans the practice.
Based exclusively on Greece Orthodox teachings, the current law consequently ignores the wishes of practitioners of other faiths, agnostics and atheists who would prefer their body to be burnt to ashes after death.
January 25 2014
First Greek Crematorium to Open in Volos
The legal framework allowing the creation of crematoria has already been unanimously passed by the Greek parliament, while the required joint ministerial decision and presidential decree have been also published. Though several organizations are still blocking the implementation of these, as highlighted by SYRIZA MP Nikos Voutsis, who put the issue before parliament.
“The matter becomes now primarily political. Although these units are of low disturbance, there are seen and unseen forces, which don’t allow the creation of a cremation center even in Attica,” added Voutsis.
“We have delayed the creation of cremation centers. The authorization for setting up crematoria has been in place since 2006, the presidential decree though was published three years later,” mentioned deputy interior minister Leonidas Grigorakos, and added, “Many municipalities which decide to open crematoria, then revoke their decision in the municipal councils.” The creation and maintenance of such sites is the sole responsibility of the local authorities, explained the minister.
The municipality of Volos seems to be an exception. As Grigorakos said, a presidential decree for the Volos crematorium is currently being drafted, because the will is there and all the guarantees have been given, while all the procedures have been carried out in accordance with the law.
In the region of Attica, over the past few years many municipalities have launched similar projects, though in most cases their impact on the environment had put a hold on the applications.
The main opponent to the opening of crematoria in Greece is the Greek Orthodox Church, which does not permit the burning of corpses, as it is held to be against the rules of Christianity. Those families who choose to have the corpse cremated are currently forced to ship the remains of their loved one out of Greece.
Country's first crematorium gets green light
The Municipality of Thessaloniki has sanctioned the construction of the country’s first crematorium, it announced on Thursday, five years after a law allowing cremation was voted through Parliament.
The site selected by municipal authorities is located near Thermi in eastern Thessaloniki, and the total cost, for the study and construction, is estimated at around 3 million euros, which the cash-strapped authority will have to come up with.
Until now, hundreds of bodies have had to be transported abroad for cremation every year, with Bulgaria being the nearest country that offers the option. Other countries where bodies are often taken from Greece include the United Kingdom, France and Italy.
The cost of being cremated abroad, meanwhile, can range anywhere from 2,500 to 6,000 euros, and the Thessaloniki Municipality’s decision to OK the construction of a crematorium was in part prompted by a desire to reverse the flow of revenue incurred through cremation abroad.
It is also estimated that the cremation will be a much cheaper option, at under 2,000 euros, than a traditional burial, which starts at well over 3,000 euros.
Lawmakers only approved legislation allowing for the cremation of the dead to take place in Greece in 2006, the first time in the country’s history, even though cremation has been allowed since 1884 in the UK, where cremations are currently estimated to represent 50 percent of total funerals, and since 1887 in France.
The new law permitted the cremation of people who request this method instead of burial as long as their religion also allows it. The law still forbids cremation for Orthodox Christians as the Church of Greece opposes the practice for believers, arguing that Orthodox traditions only allow for burial.