The Press

Bishops could be dug up

- Charlie Gates

The bishop who oversaw constructi­on of Christchur­ch’s Catholic cathedral could be dug up from his grave under its floor to make way for demolition more than a century later.

Bishop John Grimes, who was Christchur­ch’s first Catholic bishop and died in 1915, is one of three bishops who could be disinterre­d from the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in preparatio­n for demolition of the historic building.

The Catholic diocese has applied to disinter Grimes, Bishop Edward Joyce, who died in 1964, and Bishop John Cunneen, who died in 2010. The three bishops are buried under the floor of a side chapel in the earthquake-damaged cathedral on Madras St.

Bishop Paul Martin announced in August last year that he wanted to demolish the cathedral, which was completed in 1905. He hopes to demolish the building under emergency earthquake powers, known as section 38 notices, granted to the Catholic church in August 2015

Grimes became Christchur­ch’s first Catholic bishop in 1887. He went on to commission the new cathedral and raise money around the world for its constructi­on.

Online New Zealand encyclopae­dia Te Ara describes the cathedral as ‘‘Grimes’s monument and one of the finest churches in Australasi­a’’.

Catholic diocese property head Tony Sewell said the disinterme­nt applicatio­n included a public notice looking for relatives of the deceased bishops. Any living family members would be consulted on where the bishops would be reburied.

‘‘Grimes has been gone a long time. There may be some family members

that we need to talk to and that is how we find them,’’ he said.

‘‘It is important we track down any family members we need to consult with and get approvals from.’’

He said the disinterme­nt applicatio­n was part of early preparatio­ns for demolition of the cathedral.

‘‘This is just the start of the process. ‘‘This is just to do with the burials so that we know when we invoke the section 38 we have all things covered. We are making sure we are following all the steps required.’’

He said a contractor had been found to demolish the cathedral.

‘‘It is now a case of clearly defining what needs to be done.

‘‘It is not a safe building, and we want to ensure as we undertake the work that we comply with all the safety requiremen­ts.’’

The Catholic diocese is also planning to disinter another bishop and a father from a Catholic chapel in Halswell. The diocese has applied to disinter Father Laurentine Ginaty, who died in 1911, and Bishop Matthew Brodie, who died in 1943, from a chapel at the St John of God hospital in Halswell.

Sewell said the chapel was earthquake­damaged and had been closed since 2011.

The future of the building was uncertain, he said.

 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Former Catholic bishop John Grimes may be disinterre­d in Christchur­ch.
Former Catholic bishop John Grimes may be disinterre­d in Christchur­ch.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand