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Nepal Agrees to Find Places for Christians To Bury Their Dead

Decade-long conflict underscores different religious views on cremation vs. burial.

A decades-long conflict over burial sites for Christians in Nepal may finally be over.

Previously, CT reported how Christians in Kathmandu were demanding to be given burial land. AsiaNews now reports that a new commission set up by the country's interim government will "establish a cemetery for the country's Christian and Kirati minorities … Over the next four months, the commission will scout for possible sites in each of the country's 75 districts and have them identified by July 15."

The ongoing debate stems from burial ritual differences between Hindus, who cremate their dead, and Christians and other religious minorities, such as Muslims, who prefer to bury their dead. Until now, Christians have had to buy their own land with their own money, but their tombs "were frequently desecrated and burial plots seized. In many places, land is so scarce that a single tomb might contain up to 10 bodies."

The government-established cemetery will be a major step forward for Christians, who only recently "began enjoying greater religious freedom when Nepal's Hindu monarchy was abolished in 2006." Bible sales have recently doubled. AsiaNews also reports that the country's small Catholic community is growing, thanks to Pope Francis. A Catholic priest was recently named a national martyr–the first time Nepal has awarded the designation to a religious leader.

CT previously has reported on Christians in Nepal, where a new census has revealed the number of believers has tripled since the country secularized.

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