Burial practices among Catholics are rapidly changing in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, prompting Catholic church leaders in those countries to formally address the issue, according to an article in the Jesuit Review.
Many people in German-speaking lands are rejecting traditional Christian liturgies in favor of burial practices mirroring ancient Germanic customs. These include cremation and “nature burials,” in which remains are buried in unmarked graves in woods, meadows, unincorporated areas or scattered as ashes in rivers. In some cases, urns are enshrined in homes or private gardens.
According to the German Bishops Conference ” There were an estimated 243,705 Catholic funerals in Germany in 2018. However, the church’s role in funeral rites has diminished, according to the bishops. “The role of the church, the faith community and local authorities has declined over time. Professional funeral speakers and privately owned funeral enterprises have in some measure taken their place.”
The bishops strongly decried anonymous funerals, burials in remote and inaccessible nature areas, and practices in which the identity of a deceased person is erased or their human dignity is compromised.