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Some Catholics are divided over a decision to allow 4,500 new burial spaces to be set aside for the Muslim community at Kemps Creek Catholic Cemetery.
An agreement between the Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (CMCT) and the Muslim Cemetery Board provided the plot of land at a reduced cost.
This has generated controversy in the larger Catholic community, with some questioning whether Muslims are receiving benefits from the not-for-profit organisation ahead of Catholics.
CEO of CMCT, Peter O’Meara, announced the news at a ceremony held at Kemps Creek to celebrate the opening of the new Muslim Lawn.
“The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney is very proud to be involved in a cooperative relationship with Islamic community in Sydney,” Mr O’Meara said.
“This is a very good example of interfaith cooperation that will help multicultural differences to a better place in our community.”
Devout Catholic, Kellie Dawes, 36, believes that securing burial space for only Catholics is counter-intuitive to societal progression.
“Catholics should share space as they understand that Romans were forbidden to cremate the body at a time in history, so if Muslims need the space, so be it,” she said.
“In life we live together and so in death we should lie together.”
However, Catholic and fellow Sydney resident Cindy Graham disagreed.
“I can’t say I’m not worried that there might not be space for me when it’s my time to go, and especially in our holy space.”
Mr O’Meara sat alongside former Mufti of Australia Sheikh Taj El-Din Hilaly who shared the news in Arabic with other Muslim leaders attending the ceremony.
The Sheikh said the act of kindness called to “celebrate the act of different nationalities living together.”
With fears there could be few burial space available in Sydney by 2026, Muslims, who must bury their dead, were left scrambling to find solutions.
It was community leader Kazi Ali who worked with the Muslim Cemetery Board in order to solve the shortage problem and initialised the project with CMCT.
It is estimated 30 per cent of Sydney residents will choose to be buried over the cheaper alternative of being cremated.