Thursday, 26 April 2012
300 Bodies Stacked At Morgue
Officials of the Archdiocese of Chicago, funeral directors from around Cook County and cemetery workers were among the few present for the burial ceremony at the South Side cemetery for the bodies of 13 indigent adults and 120 fetuses that entered the Cook County medical examiner's office late last year.
Cardinal Francis George delivered a prayer. He said the Catholic community is committed to respect and reverence for the deceased.
"We gather today to lay our brothers and sisters to rest," he said. "We offer our cemetery in a time of need."
The ceremony came after the Archdiocese of Chicago's Catholic Cemeteries offered up as many as 300 graves for unclaimed bodies at the medical examiner's office earlier this year.
In January, the medical examiner's office said the morgue was storing a backlog that exceeded its 300-body capacity.
Medical Examiner Nancy Jones said at the time that her office was reducing the number as quickly as possible.
The most recent inventory, taken last month, found 247 bodies at the morgue, county spokeswoman Mary Paleologos said.
Each of the 13 adults buried Wednesday was in his or her own casket, while the fetuses were placed in five caskets. Hearses in the 18-casket funeral procession were led into the cemetery by police escort.