Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Disturbing the Dead

There have been several reports in the press recently of the planned move of Cardinal John Henry Newman's mortal remains from the grave in Rednal, Worcestershire where he was buried alongside his closest friend over one hundred years ago at his specific request, to a 'resting place of honour' (now surrounded by steel railings because of the likelihood of vandalism, so much for 'honour') closer to the centre of Birmingham. Why? At the request of the Vatican, who are moving towards his canonisation as a saint, a process that apparently demands just such a relocation.

As you may well realise, I regard the whole notion of sainthood as ridiculous, but even so I feel that the Church is showing a considerable contempt towards Cardinal Newman and his wishes, and by extension a lack of respect towards the dead in general with this ghoulish scheme. If he has as is claimed been working miracles (absurd as that might be) he has had no difficulty doing so from his present location in Rednal. Pilgrims who wish to visit his grave would surely appreciate the experience all the more for having to take the time to seek out the existing one rather than expending no more effort than might be required to attend a pop concert at the National Exhibition Centre.

Normally it is illegal to move human remains from a graveyard to a church tomb, but it is no surprise that the feeble Jack Straw and his Justice Department have set that aside entirely in granting the Vatican's request. I'm inclined to agree with Peter Tatchell who feels that the move is at least in part intended to overcome the Church's embarrassment resulting from Cardinal Newman's preferred double grave and all that might be thought to imply.

The Vatican do not own John Henry Newman's body and should have been told so.


Political Umpire said...

They have no jurisdiction in England, why are their wishes soaking up any time of our overworked public servants like Mr Straw?

Stephen said...

I suspect Jack thinks Cardinal Newman is the only one who can provide the miracle this Government so desperately needs right now.

Stephen said...

"I wish, with all my heart, to be buried in Fr Ambrose St John's grave - and I give this as my last, my imperative will." "This I confirm and insist on."

Plain enough for even Jack Straw, I'd have thought.

Political Umpire said...

Just because you're plainly not very good at your day job here provides no excuse not to be doing it. Mr Straw, one might have thought, ought to have more pressing matters on his hands than going against the clearly stated wishes of someone a century dead. Now there's leaving something in the past where it belongs that I suspect we can agree on! (I've had the temerity to post on matters art on which I may more readily accept correction from your very much better qualified self, incidentally!)