SACRAMENTO -- A bill that would allow an Orthodox Christian monastery in the San Francisco Bay Area to bury an abbot on its grounds is moving through the Legislature.

The Assembly on Thursday unanimously approved SB124, which permits the burial at Holy Cross Monastery in Castro Valley. Abbot Theodor Micka has terminal cancer and wants his body to remain at the monastery he founded in 1970.

Democratic Senator Ellen Corbett of Hayward introduced the bill on behalf of the congregation. California law limits burials to cemeteries, but the bill grants a special exemption.

It takes effect immediately if approved by the Senate and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Holy Cross is the only Orthodox monastery in the Bay Area. A similar bill allowed a Fresno-area monastery to bury a bishop in 2005.