We feedback any reports we come across in the press on exhumation of ashes, we do this so you can start to understand the stance and precedents set by the Church of England. We hope to help you in deciding whether your case may be considered worthy enough to meet the CoE’s stance of ‘exceptional circumstance’. Recently a lady wanted the ashes moving as she was no longer able to access her husband’s grave due to infirmity and in another where a lady was moving closer to her children and wanted to have her husband ashes reburied closer to her new abode. Both cases we rejected. The position put for by the Chancellor of the Diocese as judge of the Church of England’s Consistory Court, (the person responsible for deciding) stated that in both cases these circumstances could have been reasonably foreseen.
However a recent case involving a 92 year old widow in Lincolnshire there appears, from the outside at least, to be slightly milder in its approach taken.
Italian-born Mrs Glover sought permission to exhume the ashes of her late husband who died in 1990, so that they could be taken to the family mausoleum at Bisceglie, Puglia, in the southern Italy. This is where she intends her ashes to be placed.
The argument for her request was centred around the fact that when she dies there will be no-one left in England left to care for the grave yet in Italy the family will continue to tend the mausoleum there.
The Chancellor, slightly ironically called Mr Bishop, said: “The principle of permanence can only be departed from if there are special circumstances which justify an exception to the principle that Mr Glover was laid to rest in 1991 and his remains should not now be disturbed.”
He went on to say: “I am satisfied that this is one of those exceptional cases where I can authorise the exhumation of the cremated remains so that they may be reinterred in the family grave in Italy.
“I accept that Mrs Glover is concerned about what will happen to her husband’s plot, and her own, after she has passed away. I am sure that that Mr and Mrs Glover’s graves would be properly cared for in those circumstances by the [council] ensuring that the churchyard was tended, but I recognise the distress she feels about no family member being around to care for their plots and visit the graves.”
He added: “I wish Mrs Glover well.” A nice touch I thought.
I am pleased for Mrs Glover, although I am surprised as one might have expected the ‘reasonably foreseen’ argument trotted out. And whilst we should not see graves as the soil based equivalent of a gym locker, I think it is good to see the Church relaxing their stance in this instance. Personally I think the church foremost principle for compassion is right to take precedent here – well done Mr Bishop and the CofE.
Original article http://www.granthamjournal.co.uk/news/local/widow-given-permission-to-exhume-husband-s-ashes-from-churchyard-in-barrowby-and-send-to-italy-1-7130214