Local media in Belgium are reporting that Catholic Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, with the support of the rest of the Belgian episcopate, has decided to cease the practice of offering complete funeral liturgies at crematoria as of 2015. Instead, according to a Catholic Church spokesman, the celebration of funeral liturgies will return to churches.
The goal of the change is to attract believers back to sacred places for funeral liturgies, according to Archbishop Léonard, who has written to all of the clergy of Belgium with his directive. Despite the decision, priests may continue to go to crematoria to offer prayers but without carrying out the complete funeral rites – a practice that occurs in approximately one in every 10 cremations.
The number of cremations has continued to rise in Belgium over the last ten year, reaching 55,741 in 2012.