Composting of Human Bodies

Published on February 28th, 2020

Memorandum of Opposition

Re: A.9839 (Paulin)
In relation to the composting of human bodies

The above-referenced bill seeks to add composting, or “natural organic reduction” (bill language) to the approved methods in New York State for the disposition of human remains.

The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this bill.

The Church’s reverence for the sacredness of the human body and its dignity arises out of concern for both the body’s natural and supernatural properties. It is therefore essential that the body of a deceased person be treated with reverence and respect. A process whereby the “remains shall be pulverized until no single fragment is recognizable as skeletal tissue” (bill language), thereby “naturally converting human remains to soil” (sponsor’s memorandum), to be scattered “in a designated scattering garden or area in a cemetery” (bill language) fails to sufficiently respect the dignity due the deceased.

We understand that not everyone shares the Catholic Church’s teachings with regard to the reverence and respect for human remains, but we do not think the public, or at least the portion of the public that visits their deceased loved ones in cemeteries, are prepared for this proposed composting/fertilizing method. We believe that in approving and promoting “environmentally sustainable” measures (sponsor’s memorandum), this state must take care to protect and preserve basic human dignity and respect.

The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this legislation and urges its defeat.