Monday, July 24, 2006

Restless soul

Tug-of-war over priest's body is finally resolved
By Rahul Bedi
(Filed: 24/07/2006)

The body of an eccentric English cleric who spent four decades working to improve the lot of India's lower castes has finally been laid to rest after being exhumed and re-buried three times in a bizarre tug-of-war.
The battle over where the remains of Fr Mark Barnes should lie had been fought between his supporters and the Catholic Church since he died in an accident 17 months ago while making cartridges for his shotgun.
The priest's body was interred on Saturday inside the compound of St Mary's Convent School, which he had founded in Gumtala village, 300 miles north of New Delhi.
The Church wanted him interred in the priest's cemetery at Jalandhar, but his -supporters insisted on burying him at the school he opened for their children. His body was originally buried at the spot where it now lies, much to the chagrin of the Church.
On the orders of the local authority, the body was secretly exhumed by police on the night of the funeral.
The police had it hastily re-buried in a Muslim graveyard before once more exhuming and re-burying it in a plot adjoining a Hindu funeral ground.
After 17 months of legal wrangling, the Church agreed to re-bury the priest at his original resting place and to erect a memorial on the spot.
Daily Telegraph


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