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The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. is the largest Catholic church in the United States., tags: u.s. bishops - CC BY-SA

U.S. Bishops Slam Eco-Friendly Death Practices

15th March, 2023

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine has launched a fierce attack on eco-friendly human composting and water cremation, labeling these modern, sustainable burial practices as disrespectful to the dead.

The Bishops are standing their ground on this divisive issue, insisting that the Church must protect the sanctity of the human body, even after death.

Their sweeping condemnation has triggered a heated debate over the ethical and environmental implications of these green burial methods.

Alkaline hydrolysis, also known as water cremation, has been denounced by the Committee for its gruesome transformation of human remains into a liquid form, destined for fields or sewers.

Human composting, which speeds up the natural decomposition process, also came under fire for turning bodies into compost.

Despite the ever-growing concern over the environmental impact of traditional burial methods, the Bishops are unyielding in their insistence that these eco-friendly alternatives are a threat to the spiritual well-being of the deceased.

“We are therefore obliged to respect our bodily existence throughout our lives and to respect the bodies of the deceased when their earthly lives have come to an end,” the Committee said in a statement.

“The way that we treat the bodies of our beloved dead must always bear witness to our faith in and our hope for what God has promised us.”

Earth to earth, ashes to ashes?

Washington was the trailblazer for legalizing human composting back in 2019.

Since then, other states like New York, Vermont, California, Colorado, and Oregon have followed suit, passing similar legislation.

However, the Catholic Church remains steadfast in its opposition, even though traditional burial methods are increasingly being criticized for their environmental impact.

Supporters of human composting and water cremation argue that these methods are not only sustainable, but they also alleviate pressure on the rapidly dwindling availability of land for burials.

Critics also point out the environmental dangers posed by traditional burials, including soil contamination from preservative chemicals and air pollution caused by cremation.

The Bishops’ controversial condemnation has ignited a fierce debate over the future of burial practices and the balance between faith, respect for the dead, and our responsibility to the planet.


Catholic Church in the United States

With 23 percent of the United States’ population as of 2018, the Catholic Church is the country’s second largest religious grouping, after Protestantism, (wikipedia)



United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is the episcopal conference of the Catholic Church in the United States. (wikipedia)


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