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May 14, 2018

On Suicide & Cremation
The Orthodox Way

- His Eminence Metropolitan ISAIAH of Denver -




The following text is an offering by our beloved Hierarch Metropolitan ISAIAH which is shared to assist in the education of two very sensitive topics. It is offered for your edification, without judgement or shame, and I pray that it provides loving, compassionate and pastoral guidance as we, together, continue to traverse the tumultuous seas of life in this modern age.  

- Father Christopher


Over the past several years it appears that a number of persons who have been recognized as Orthodox Christians have taken their lives, as well as some who leave in their wills that they wish to be cremated. On the basis of these two realities, it is obvious that many of our people have no understanding of the sanctity of the human body and have not been educated on the seriousness of these matters relative to the fact that they consider themselves members of the Church.

In the matter of suicides, if a person is considered in his or her right mind and commits suicide, the only interpretation that the Church can give is that such a person rejects the life given to them by the Holy Spirit. The result is that the Church does not offer a funeral service to that person. The reason for this is that the funeral service is reserved only for those who believe in the resurrection of the dead and eternal life after the resurrection. Therefore, the only time a funeral is conducted for a suicide is on the basis of a doctor’s reputable statement that the person committing suicide was not in his or her right mind.

In the matter of cremations, the inference is that there is no resurrection of the body, contrary to what we read in the New Testament, and thus the cremation returns the body to its basic elements. It is also important to note that the Orthodox Christian funeral service is written on the premise that a body is present. Consequently, whether a body is cremated, lost at sea, or otherwise absent, the funeral service cannot be conducted. The reason for this is that the funeral service is deliberately written in such a way as if the deceased were singing the dramatic hymns. Specific verses are taken from the Book of Psalms (118) which are in the first person, using the pronoun “I.”

Aside from this fact, cremation goes contrary to Holy Scripture. One good example is found in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians where we read, “...glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God’s (6:20).” In other words, our bodies and souls belong to God, and not to us. Therefore, we have no right to do with our bodies what we please. In addition to all of this, there is even a greater reason why cremation is contrary to our Christian faith. Simply put, it desecrates the body. Moreover, the so-called ashes from a cremation are not ashes. They are the crushed and pulverized skull and bones of the body, the arms and legs. They are put through a grinding machine which actually turns the bones into dust.

Finally, for an Orthodox Christian to fulfill the wishes of a member of the family who wishes to be cremated after death actually defiles the sacraments of Baptism, Chrismation, Confession, Holy Unction, Holy Matrimony, and the Holy Eucharist by considering the wishes of the deceased more important than the divine blessing of the Holy Spirit upon the deceased body throughout the years that the body was the recipient of those holy blessings. On the basis of these realities, it is the responsibility of not only the clergy, but of all our faithful Greek Orthodox Christians to do whatever they can do, in a positive way, to impress upon those who accept this pagan practice that it is wrong. The fact that the deceased body of an Orthodox Christian receives multiple blessings from the Lord in preparation of the eternal Kingdom any violence upon a dead body is the desecration of God’s temple.



Metropolitan Isaiah is a native of New Hampshire, having been born in Portsmouth. He is one of four children born to Dennis and Mary (Kapsimalis) Chronopoulos who had emi...[more]
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Metropolitan Isaiah is a native of New Hampshire, having been born in Portsmouth. He is one of four children born to Dennis and Mary (Kapsimalis) Chronopoulos who had emigrated to the United states from Olympia, Greece. After his primary and high school education, he served with distinction in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean conflict. In the autumn of 1954, he enrolled at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Seminary in Brookline, Massachusetts. Upon his graduation in 1960, he attended the Ecumenical Patriarchate Seminary of Halki in Istanbul, Turkey for graduate studies. On February 25, 1962, Metropolitan Isaiah was ordained a deacon by His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos at Saint Spyridon Church in San Diego, California, having been tonsured a monk on the previous day. He received his ordination to the holy priesthood from His Grace Bishop Demetrios of Olympos at Saint Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles, California, on March 18, 1962. His first assignment in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese was as assistant to the pastor at Holy Trinity Church in Salt Lake City, Utah. In December of 1964, he was assigned as pastor at Saint John the Baptist Church in Youngstown, Ohio. On November 30, 1969, he was raised to the office of Archimandrite by Archbishop Iakovos at the consecration services of the new church and community center in Youngstown. Archbishop Iakovos reassigned the Metropolitan to Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology as the Director of Student Life in August of 1971. Taking a leave of absence from his duties in February 1975, he enrolled as a graduate student at the School of Theology at the University of Thessaloniki, fulfilling requirements for the recognition of his master’s degree in theology. He returned to the United States in July of that year and continued in his capacity as dean of students. In September 1976, he was given additional responsibilities at the college-seminary as the Dean of Administrative Affairs together with his position as Dean of Students. In October 1977, he assumed additional duties as the Interim Pastor at Saint Nicholas Church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Relinquishing all of these positions in March 1979, he was assigned as the Chancellor of the Diocese of Chicago under His Grace, Bishop Iakovos of Chicago. Metropolitan Isaiah was elected to the rank of bishop by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul (Constantinople), Turkey, on April 10, 1986. He was consecrated a Bishop on May 25, 1986, at Holy Trinity Cathedral in New York City, and was given the title of Bishop of Aspendos, a former Christian city in southwestern Asia Minor. In September 1986, His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos assigned him as the Chancellor of the Archdiocese in New York. Bishop Isaiah continued to function in this capacity until June 23, 1992, when he was elected Bishop of the Diocese of Denver by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, taking the new title on June 24, 1992, at special ceremonies in the Archdiocesan Chapel. He was enthroned as Bishop of Denver on September 10, 1992, at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Denver, Colorado. On November 24, 1997, the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elevated him as Metropolitan of Proikonisos and Presiding Hierarch of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Denver. Metropolitan Isaiah was also appointed as President of Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology on July 1, 1997, by His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon of America. He accepted a one-year term which officially ended on August 14, 1998. On December 20, 2002, the Ecumenical Patriarchate elevated the status of the Diocese to a Metropolis, and in 2003, elected Metropolitan Isaiah as Metropolitan of Denver.