Vatican To Dismember Cardinal Newman's Body - Against His Wishes
Jack Straw allows break up of corpse. Bones to be displayed as holy relics.
Dismemberment of Cardinal's body is ghoulish, sordid and distasteful.
London - 29 August 2008
"The Pope has strong-armed the Ministry of Justice to waive the law and allow the exhumation and reburial of Cardinal John Henry Newman," according to human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
"The rarely granted special licence for exhumation was approved by the Ministry of Justice burials department, headed by Catholic MP, Bridget Prentice.
"It is entirely inappropriate that a Catholic Minister should have overseen the granting of this exceptional legal dispensation. It will inevitably lead to allegations that the Minister has, as a loyal Catholic, shown favouritism.
"Justice Secretary Jack Straw MP has authorised the process that will lead to the disinterment and dismemberment of Newman's body, contrary to Newman's own repeatedly expressed wishes to remain buried in the same grave as the man he loved, Father Ambrose St John. They have remained buried side by side for over 100 years, since Newman's death in 1890.
"The government is complicit in this act of grave-robbing, sacrilege and desecration. Allowing the Catholic Church to over-ride Newman's explicit instructions to his executors is truly shameful. The Pope does not have the right to violate the Cardinal's wishes.
"The Catholic Church has admitted that it plans to break up parts of Newman's body and display some of his bones as holy relics. The Ministry of Justice accepted these plans at a meeting with Catholic representatives in July," notes Mr Tatchell.
According to a report in The Catholic Herald on 15 August 2008:
"Officials from the Ministry of Justice have also given the go-ahead for Catholic experts in holy objects to fly in from Italy and retrieve "major relics" from the corpse after the coffin is opened for the first time.
"These will most likely be bones from his hands which will be shared out between key churches in Britain - as well as one being sent to the Vatican.
"They will be placed in shrines so Catholic pilgrims can venerate Cardinal Newman and pray for his intercession when he is made a saint.
"A selection of minor relics - small fragments of bone and cloth - will also be collected," wrote The Catholic Herald reporter Simon Caldwell.
These intentions were confirmed by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor's spokesperson, Austen Ivereigh. He admitted on BBC Radio Four's Sunday Programme on 24 August that the Church is planning to destroy the integrity of Cardinal Newman's bodily remains and distribute his bones as'holy relics'.
"The planned dismemberment and exploitation of the Cardinal's body is ghoulish, sordid and distasteful," said Mr Tatchell.
"It is indecent, disrespectful, of doubtful legality and is definitely incompatible with contemporary notions of respect for the dead.
"The Catholic Church will make a lot of money out of the vast number of people who visit Newman's body in its new resting place. They will rake in donations from vulnerable people who come seeking a miracle cure, and make a tidy profit from selling Newman portraits, statues, book and videos. The reburial and eventual sainthood of Newman will be a gold mine for the Catholic Church, attracting pilgrims and money from all over the world. This reburial aims to fill Catholic coffers.
"I suspect that most lay Catholics do not approve of the Vatican's antics. Many are equally horrified, believing that these plans are offensive and insensitive. None of us would want this to happen to our deceased loved ones.
"Disturbing the remains of a buried person requires a special licence from the Ministry of Justice. According to The Independent newspaper, the Ministry of Justice has bowed to pressure from the Vatican and granted a licence for the removal of the Cardinal's remains into a sarcophagus to stand opposite the Holy Souls Altar in the Birmingham Oratory," said Mr Tatchell.
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