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Appeal to ETHR-K.Jastrzebski


Letter of Application from K.Jastrzembski, Secretary, Fawley Court Old Boys Association, 3 Turner House, Erasmus Street, London SW1P 4DZ, UK. Email:> />
Further to: The Order of the Supreme Court of 13 Aug 2012 (attached) and authority of Elzbieta Rudewicz (attached) under Articles 8, 9 and 34 and Protocol 12

Dear Sirs/Madams of the European Court of Human Rights

The writer, presenting the complaint on behalf of E.Rudewicz, the Appellant, is a former pupil of Fr. Jozef Jarzebowski, deceased. The Appellant is the nearest surviving relative of the deceased and has objected to the proposed exhumation of Fr.J.Jarzebowski, buried at Fawley Court, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire. The Appellant has exhausted all national remedies having made representations to the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. She complains that the law (Burial Act 1857) has been interpreted by the English Courts in a discriminatory way as follows:

Section 25 of the Burial Act 1857:

‘Except in the cases where a body is removed from one consecrated place of burial to another by faculty granted by the ordinary for that purpose, it shall not be lawful to remove any body, or the remains of any body, which have been interred in any place of burial, without licence under the hand of one of Her Majesty’s Principal Secretaries of State …’

In this Act the Courts interpret “consecrated place of burial” as meaning consecrated by the rites of the Church of England and in such cases the matter goes before a Consistory Court which in exceptional cases awards a faculty for an exhumation. It is a fact that “consecration” is exclusively a Christian concept, historically adopted by the Church of England during the Reformation from the Catholic Church despite many protests. It is also a fact that the grave of Fr.J.Jarzebowski was consecrated by Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow who later became Pope (as per the Homily of Cardinal S. Wyszynski of Poland). Thus the Appellant is aggrieved that the UK courts have refused to consider the grave to be in consecrated ground and have applied a discriminatory procedure upholding an exhumation licence issued by the Secretary of State for Justice despite several thousand letters of protest and complaint from the Polish community resident in the UK sent to the Ministry of Justice prior to the issuing of the original licence in 2010, which was blocked by the Appellant’s injunction till now.

The Ministry of Justice justified their issuing of an exhumation licence by reference to a guide compiled by a civil servant from the Home Office, Eaglestone, which is not statute and recommends heads of religious orders in place of the next of kin. The applicants, the Marian Fathers, stated next of kin on their application. Unfortunately the Marian Fathers are not an order, as was stated in the courts, but a congregation. The difference is that orders are usually monastic and have unbreakable vows. The Congregation of Marian Fathers does not have unbreakable vows, as illustrated by the Rev. W.Duda, who re-registered the Marian Fathers as a charity in the UK and deleted the previous registration. He is no longer with the Marian Fathers and no longer a priest, and works in North London. It became clear in the courts that the judiciary wished to uphold the decisions of the civil servants made in the name of the Secretary of State for Justice, although they did not take into account religious considerations. Indeed, at the Judicial Review stage in the High Court, Lady Justice Hallett considered that permanence of burial was not a tenet of the Roman Catholic faith. This point was proved to the contrary in the Court of Appeal; however the leading Judge did not perceive manifestations of religious beliefs in considering whether Article 9 of the ECHR applied.

The Catholic community with its variants (Orthodox, Roman and others) firmly believes in the permanence of burial. Respect for the dear departed is passed to new generations through the family and through church teaching. As a former pupil of Fr.J.Jarzebowski I can state that this is what I received in knowledge and passed on to my child. It is traditional to visit graves and pray on the departed’s date of birth and on All Souls Day. After the sale of Fawley Court in 2011, the Chair of the Polish Heritage Society attended Fr.J.Jarzebowski’s grave and lit a torch there, on behalf of the family and the community. Prior to the sale and before restrictions of entry, a number of visits took place where members of the Polish RC community travelled to the grave and prayed there, as there was a danger of exhumation. The prayers included a plea of preservation of His grave. The actions of the family and the community were physical manifestations of religious belief. In this the five Marian Fathers who were trustees of the new charity were found wanting. When they removed the large cross that marked the grave, the community provided a makeshift wooden cross in its place. The Marian Fathers argued in court that there was no harm in removing the body. The community was outraged by this and by their removal of the Chapel at Fawley Court, their deconsecration of the Church of St Anne’s next to which Fr.J.Jarzebowski is buried and by their reduction of the Holy Grotto in the grounds to rubble. The Marian Fathers had, and still have, a financial incentive for the exhumation. They have applied for and obtained an exhumation licence. We are mindful that their Superior, the Rev. W.Jasinski, had been arrested and kept on bail for another exhumation without a licence, and that his case was dropped the day before the listed hearing as apparently not in the public interest. Their sale of Fawley Court was legally challenged in the High Court. The matter has not progressed as the main applicant, Mrs.S.Kuszyk, President of the Polish Action Group, died during the proceedings. The modern Marian Fathers are not considered representative of the Catholic community.

It is a fundamental right to cherish the memory of a dead person. For Catholic Poles, it is a part of a tradition and within the doctrines of the faith matters of burial are associated with the central tenet of this religion, the Paschal Mystery, that is suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of the Son of God. It is the basic human right of the Appellant to be true to and to manifest these beliefs and she should be protected from interference motivated by financial considerations of the Marian Fathers. If her relative, Fr.J.Jarzebowski is exhumed contrary to her stated wishes, a serious breach of her human rights will take place. In a much smaller measure this will apply also to his former pupils within our Association, and to the wider community of the faithful which comprises some 1.5 million Poles permanently resident in the UK and their Catholic friends of other nationalities.

Fr. J. Jarzebowski died in 1964 and was given a state funeral at Fawley Court in the place he chose having applied and received planning permission for a private burial ground there. In 1970, Prince Stanislaw Albrecht Radziwill erected the Church of St Anne’s upon this ground and is himself buried in its crypt with his son, Prince Antoni Radziwill. Thus Fr.J.Jarzebowski is now said to be buried within the grounds of this church, his grave being a metre away from the church wall. The church is a listed Grade 2 building and forms a cultural whole with its grave.

The writer undertakes to supply the European Court with documents as required to support the statements made including the judgments from the High Court and the Court of Appeal, pleadings, application to the Supreme Court and letters from interested parties in support. The writer was adjoined at the Court of Appeal stage as the Third Interested Party for Elzbieta Rudewicz. The other parties were: The Save Fawley Court Heritage Committee, First Interested Party, for Elzbieta Rudewicz, and the Marian Fathers Charitable Trust, Second Interested Party, for the Secretary of State for Justice.

Yours faithfully

K.Jastrzembski, Secretary, Fawley Court Old Boys Association

 Komitet Obrony Dziedzictwa Narodowego Fawley Court, , e-mail:
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