Bishop urges Catholics not to donate to bell fund
A Charlottetown bishop is trying to quash a community group's campaign to restore the bells at St. Dunstan's Basilica because engineers say they add too much stress to the church's tower.
Catherine Hennessey says she remembers feeling proud when she heard St. Dunstan's bells ringing.
"The bells are a cultural resource of extraordinary dimension for this community," she said.
Hennessey has been fighting for years to get the bells reinstalled and is collecting donations to pay for their restoration.
"They'd add jubilation to Great George Street, great jubilation."
The bells were taken down in the 1970s.
"We simply can't put the bells back because it will jeopardize the integrity of the building, we can't do that," said Bishop Richard Grecco.
He is now telling Island Catholics to not to donate to Hennessey's group.
"I didn't authorize it and we can't put the bells back," he said.
For whom the bell tolls
Hennessey said she's heard the diocese's concerns, but she's not convinced.
She's looking for a second opinion.
"I've talked to the bell people, they have put bells in towers, they've taken them out, they've put them back in. The possibility, in my heart, is that it's possible."
Hennessey said even if the church won't re-install the bells, they should be restored and displayed to the public.
The bishop says the basilica has bigger problems to worry about, including making the front steps more accessible, and repairing the roof.
"We can't start going in that direction until these other priorities are addressed," he said.
Hennessey said she's confident donations to the fund to restore the bells will continue to roll in, despite the bishop's comments.
"The bells will ring again, and they'll be addressed properly, I'm sure. The community will speak to that."