Statement on Gov. Hochul signing legislation permitting human composting

Published on January 2nd, 2023

Following is a statement of Dennis Poust, executive director of the NYS Catholic Conference:

“Throughout human history and in every culture, the disposition of human remains has followed a variety of rituals, but always involving interment or cremation. The process of composting is associated with the sustainable disposition of organic household or agricultural waste to be repurposed as fertilizer for gardens or crops. But human bodies are not household waste; they are vessels of the soul. Therefore, the Bishops of New York State do not believe the process meets the standard of reverent treatment of earthly remains.

“In the Catholic Church, preference remains for the burial of the body, with cremation and burial of the ashes as an acceptable and increasingly popular alternative. Just as Church teaching prohibits the scattering or dividing of cremated remains, it would not permit the spreading of composted human remains co-mingled with other organic matter to fertilize a garden.

“Given this fact, the bishops regret that Gov. Hochul has signed this legislation. For Catholics who share concerns regarding care for the environment, numerous Catholic and other cemeteries in New York offer green burial areas that do not involve embalming, concrete vaults or traditional coffins. As noted, cremation and burial of the ashes is also a legitimate option for faithful Catholics.”

The Catholic Conference represents the Bishops of New York State in public policy matters.