Composting of Human Bodies

Published on April 30th, 2021

Memorandum of Opposition

Re:  S5535 Comrie / A382 Paulin
In relation to the Composting of Human Bodies

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

The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this bill.

Like many faith traditions, the Catholic 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 human remains are composted and scattered “in a designated scattering garden or area in a cemetery” (bill language) fails to sufficiently respect the dignity due the deceased.

While not everyone shares the same beliefs with regard to the reverent and respectful treatment of human remains, we believe there are a great many New Yorkers who would be uncomfortable at best with this proposed composting/fertilizing method, which is more appropriate for vegetable trimmings and eggshells than for human bodies.

The Catholic Conference believes that in approving and promoting what the sponsor’s memo refers to as “environmentally sustainable” measures, the state must take care to protect and preserve basic human dignity and respect. By that measure, this bill fails.

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