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An Easter Message from The Archbishop of Canterbury

My dear Clergy & People,

I am writing to you from the cellar in Lambeth Palace.

Easter is the most sacred time in the Christian Year and normally I would be writing to you about the most serious and solemn parts of our faith and practice. I mean of course climate change, the urgent need to reduce your carbon footprint, rising sea levels and the Antarctic icecap which is melting catastrophically. In normal times I would have been asking you to pray for God’s faithful servants in Extinction Rebellion as they go about their vocation and ministry by defacing public buildings and holding up the traffic. I would be asking you to give heartfelt thanks for the witness of the Blessed Virgin St Greta. But saving the planet – though it is the Church’s primary duty – is not our only concern. For we live in an unequal society, so I would have asked Archbishop “Chippy” Sentamu to say a few seasonal words about diversity and race-hate crimes

But these are not normal times. We are beset by the coronavirus. But this is not the time to panic. However, I have taken care to discuss the matter with members of the Archbishop’s Council, and they will tell you precisely when it’s time to panic. In these challenging times, we must remember those comforting words which are the very heart of our faith: “Come unto me all ye that travail and are heavy-laden, and I will give you a hand-sanitizer.”

And, especially at Eastertide, we must remember our responsibility towards our neighbour. For it is written, “Let him that hath ten loo rolls give two of them to him (or her) that hath not.” And if a man (or a woman) should ask you to walk one mile with them, make sure you walk no further than one mile and keep social distancing to the space of six cubits and a span.

Remember also where the Good Book says, “When two or three are gathered together in my name…” But I say unto you, that is far too many. Eastertide is surely a time for self-isolation, as Jesus quarantined himself those forty days and forty nights in the wilderness

Again, it is written, “My house shall be a house of prayer.” But this, along with so many other things, has changed. And so I say to all Vicars and Curates: lock the church doors; do not even enter therein by thyself

Sadly, the days are past when there might be the feeding of 5000 and other feasting. It is written, “Go ye into all nations and make men (and women) my disciples.” This has now been amended by the House of Bishops into the firm instruction, “Keep well clear of everybody!”

No longer, “Take eat…drink this in remembrance of me.” This is not a time for remembrance. We are commanded to forget all about it. For the Church of England verily hath resigned

Finally, and above all things, remember the example set for us by St Pontius Pilate who, when he was challenged as we are now challenged, washed his hands!

I wish you all a sanitized and self-isolated Easter!

Justin Cantuar

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Charles Moore

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Witness to the truth

Charles Moore strenuously defends the reputation of the former Bishop of Chichester— who dared to criticise the carpet-bombing of Germany, and may have been unjustly accused of child abuse

Witness to the truth<img class=”ResponsiveImage2-module__real-image ResponsiveImage2-module__real-image–fit-crop ResponsiveImage2-module__real-image–loaded” style=”box-sizing: inherit; opacity: 1; width: 936px; height: 526.5px; object-fit: cover; z-index: 1;” src=”data:;base64,” alt=”Witness to the truth” />
George Bell, Bishop of Chichester: Church, State and Resistance in the Age of Dictatorship

Andrew Chandler

Eerdmans, pp. 224, £

George Bell (1883–1958) was, in many respects, a typical Anglican prelate of his era. He went to Westminster and Christ Church, and passed his career in the C of E’s fast stream. Never a parish priest, he became, first, chaplain (and later, biographer) of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Randall Davidson; next, Dean of Canterbury; finally, Bishop of Chichester. He was not an intellectual or a contemplative. He was an effective, energetic leader, strongly interested in public affairs, a natural candidate to end up as an archbishop of the established church.

This did not happen, probably because Bell opposed ‘area’ Allied bombing of Germany in the second world war. Such carpet-bombing threatened ‘the roots of civilisation’, he said. The British war cabinet, by permitting the indiscriminate devastation of civilian populations, was ‘blind to the harvest’.

Given the titanic nature of the struggle against Hitler, it is not surprising that many, from Winston Churchill downwards, were angry with Bell. When Bell’s office requested transport for him to visit an RAF station in his diocese, an officer there retorted: ‘Let the bugger bike.’ But Bell was not a pacifist, and he was someone who, against the trend, had always warned against the Nazis. In the 1930s and even — when contacts were minimal — in the 1940s, Bell did everything he could to support Christian resistance in Germany. Close to many of the July plotters against Hitler in 1944, he was probably the only senior English clergyman to work actively with those trying to overthrow the regime. He sought unsuccessfully to persuade the British government to back them.

This commitment explains why the last message of Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, before he was murdered by the SS in April 1945, was to Bell. The principle of ‘universal Christian brotherhood which rises above all national hatreds’, Bonhoeffer said in that message, means that ‘our victory is certain’.

‘Universal Christian brotherhood’ can sound platitudinous, but the spectacle of Christians killing one another in vast numbers twice in the 20th century showed that it is all too easily forgotten. To Bell (and Bonhoeffer), it meant everything. That is why he absolutely resisted writing off all Germans. His striking way of putting it was ‘Germany was the first country in Europe to be occupied by the Nazis.’

Round this, as Andrew Chandler sets out in this learned and thoughtful book, Bell organised his thought and action: his help for Jewish refugees and persecuted ‘non-Aryan’ Christians; for all the German churches which refused to enter the stooge ‘Reichkirche’; for those detained as ‘enemy aliens’ on the Isle of Man; for a negotiated peace if Hitler were overthrown; and for those trying to rebuild Germany after its defeat.

Bell lacked political skill. As the historian Owen Chadwick put it, he was ‘the most Christian bishop of his age, but had little idea how to commend the points he wanted to press’, so most of his causes — the ecumenical movement is the great exception — did not prevail. His importance lies in his witness to the truth as he saw it. T.S. Eliot, whom Bell encouraged to write Murder in the Cathedral, described him as ‘a lovable man’. Bell had, said Eliot, ‘dauntless integrity’, and ‘no fear of the consequences’ of speaking out: ‘With this went understanding and simplicity of manner, the outward signs, I believe, of inward humility.’

Fifty-seven years after George Bell’s death, his own diocese, supported by the national Church authorities, announced that Bell had sexually abused a child between 1949 and 1953. They gave no details, and paid compensation. (The complainant later revealed herself to have been a five-year-old girl when the alleged abuse began.) The Church said it had decided against Bell ‘on the balance of probabilities’. No other such accusations — or even rumours — have ever been heard against Bell. His name was removed from buildings and institutions named after him.

A recent detailed review of the case showed that no effort had been made by the Church to consider the evidence for Bell: his voluminous papers and diaries had not been consulted, nor had living people who worked with him at that time (including one domestic chaplain, Adrian Carey, now aged 94, who spent virtually every waking moment with Bell for more than two of the years in which the abuse supposedly happened). His cause was given no legal advocate. Instead, in a process still kept secret, the ‘victim’ was believed. The normal burden of proof was reversed and so it was considered wicked to doubt her veracity.

As Chandler puts it, ‘We are asked to invest an entire authority in one testimony and to dismiss all the materials by which we have come to know the historical George Bell as mere figments of reputation.’ Of course, if Bell was guilty, his high reputation should not protect him. But we have not been given the chance to establish fairly whether he was. Jesus, of course, also suffered from unjust process. When the Church forgets this, it is not — as it claims — rejecting the dreadful child-abuse cover-ups of the past. It is dishonouring the example of its founder.

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Bishop George Bell


University of Chichester, Bishop George Bell lecture

Saturday 4th October 2008

A lecture by the Archbishop of Canterbury given at the University of Chichester, 4 October 2008, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Bishop George Bell, Bishop of Chichester 1929—58.

The Archbishop answered questions at the end of the lecture – click here to go directly to the question & answer section, or read it at the end of the lecture.

A Church of the nation or a Church for the nation?  Bishop George Bell and the Church of England

In the first of a series of commemorative lectures earlier this year, Dr Andrew Chandler spoke with great insight about Bell as a man whose greatest commitments seem to have been doomed to failure. His steady belief in negotiation and arbitration in international conflict, his consistent refusal to allow that modern technological warfare might dispense with traditional moral boundaries – we could add too his passionate optimism about the possible convergence of the Christian faith with the artist’s imagination, and his lifelong devotion to ecumenism: all this surely represents a set of aspirations that now look to many people sadly unrealistic, overtaken by the onset not only of a Cold War but of a sort of ice age in corporate social vision or imagination.

My aim will not be to argue against this judgement, though Dr Anthony Harvey’s excellent tracing (in a later lecture this year) of the growth of some sort of organised moral and institutional awareness of the claims of international law might well be set in the balance against a superficial verdict of failure overall. It is rather to ask some questions about the motivation of such commitments as rooted in a particular sense of what the Church in general, and the Church of England in particular, might be. Bell was a politically active and experienced man, but not a pure politician; so we shouldn’t assume for a moment that practical failure would have made very much difference to what he thought worth working for. I want to suggest that his beliefs about the Church of England, as revealed in his actual priorities, offer an account of what might still be a reasonable ground for identifying the moral priorities of any Christian community, ice age or no ice age; and that therefore the celebration of Bell’s memory is by no means a wistful exercise.

I shall be focusing on two areas of Bell’s varied and tireless labours – his sponsorship of the arts in a Christian context and his interventions in public debate about the conduct of war. And what I hope to draw out is Bell’s acceptance of Christian witness as shaped by a twofold responsibility – responsibility to the culture in which the Christian community is located and responsibility for it. On the one hand, Christians are ‘answerable’ to the ambient culture in the sense that they are there not to dictate but to serve; the Church is not a body that arbitrarily sets the agenda for society at large, but seeks to discern what needs it must meet. It therefore has to develop a degree of attention to the culture in which it lives, if only so that it doesn’t find itself (as has often been said) answering questions that no-one is asking. On the other hand, with the Jewish prophetic tradition much in mind and the New Testament imagery of the believing community as salt, leaven and light, Christians are answerable to God for the integrity and justice of their society; they may not be setting an agenda but they are discerning what is destructive and warning against it – and the refusal to utter such a warning leaves the believer exposed to judgement.

The balance is a difficult one, and very few individuals or particular Churches get it right for long. Answerability to the culture can produce a lack of confidence within the Church in its own distinctive gifts, and at worst an uncritical reproduction of the culture’s attitudes with a faint pious gloss. Answerability for the culture can generate obsessional confrontation, something like paranoia about cultural and moral decline and a weddedness to the luxuries of a permanent minority position which allows criticism without practical engagement. What is impressive about Bell is not only his ability to hold the tension, with an apparent lack of self-consciousness that is remarkable, but also the way in which the two concerns appear in his biography as intricately interwoven. A supreme ‘insider’, in both ecclesiastical and social terms, Bell uses the rather ambivalent authority of his position both to serve and to re-shape his environment.

Bell and the Imagination of Society

Kenneth Pickering, in his delightful book, Drama in the Cathedral,[i] has chronicled the history of the plays performed in Canterbury Cathedral in the twenties and thirties of the twentieth century; and Bell’s role in prompting this history is fully acknowledged. It was he who, as Dean of Canterbury, invited John Masefield to write The Coming of Christ for performance in the Cathedral nave in 1928 and who commissioned music from Holst and designs from Ricketts for this historic event. Pickering stresses [ii] Bell’s refusal to censor Masefield’s text, despite the strong political meat contained in some of the shepherds’ speeches, where the experiences of the Great War and the General Strike are given pretty explicit voice: ‘Bell was prepared to face the consequences of the anti-war sentiments expressed in the play.’ [iii] And if we recall the coolness or even hostility towards the entire project from some in the Cathedral establishment in Canterbury and the lukewarmness of the Archbishop, it is clear that Bell’s distinctive but undramatic moral courage was already in evidence. For most modern readers, Masefield is an unadventurous poet, and quite a lot of the text of this particular drama does now sounds the flat and artificial note of the mere pageant; but it is important that the moments where something much more passionate and challenging is allowed to come through are among the parts that Bell most wanted to preserve.

In other words, Bell’s welcoming attitude to the arts of his day was not simply a matter of encouraging decorative uplift: Masefield, Holst and Ricketts were none of them at the time uncontroversial figures, or indeed conventionally religious ones (Charles Ricketts was a robust unbeliever, much amused by the invitation to design a nativity play in a cathedral.) If the history of the Canterbury plays now seems less exciting in terms of engagement with the more complex areas of modern literary development than seemed to be the case at the time, we should make due allowance for the advantages of hindsight. Bell’s personal taste was largely (not exclusively) conservative, but in comparison with most of his ecclesiastical contemporaries he was notably adventurous, and, above all, he was determined to allow artists themselves to set the standards of excellence and acceptability. In this alone, his stature is evident. The later evolution of the Canterbury plays, the involvement of Martin Browne, the recruitment of T S Eliot to the project and the formation in 1930 of the Religious Drama Society with Bell as President, all this is quite well-known. Although Bell left Canterbury in 1929, his personal imprint on this notable rediscovery of the possibilities of religious drama continued undiluted. Eliot could even dream of every cathedral having its own drama company, [iv] not as an aspect of ‘religious revival’ but as a way of the Church meeting people’s appetite for serious theatre. And Bell himself, as his approach to Masefield’s text suggests, looked to drama to address the major public issues of the day; in 1932, he enthusiastically supported a play on disarmament as setting an agenda for the Geneva Conference of that year.

In fact, the more one looks at Bell’s involvement with the religious drama revival, the more the connections with the rest of his concerns become clear. Being ‘answerable’ to the culture meant, in this context, something like ‘giving permission’ – as we’d now say – to the artist to raise issues, to give room for voices that might otherwise be suppressed. Answerability is not about giving a generic blessing to the culture and its corporate imagination, not even about trying to identify in it some encouraging echoes of Christian aspirations; it is helping the properly critical voice of art to find an audience. It is, we could say, serving the seriousness of society, not accepting its own account of what entertains or reassures it. Masefield’s Coming of Christ is, of course, a mediaeval pastiche, lapsing constantly into sententious poeticism; yet it was doing something quite fresh, and that freshness could not have been there without Bell. It was using the cathedral as a platform for public seriousness, not bound to but still grounded in the confession of faith.

The language of ‘seriousness’ may recall Philip Larkin’s famous ‘Churchgoing’ poem; but I think there is a difference between Larkin’s seriousness, essentially a mood of rather sombre individual reflection strongly connected with the remembrance of death, and the seriousness of an art that invites its culture to self-examination and a degree of shared productive discomfort. Bell clearly believed that if the Church was going to be responsive to the arts, it had to let them be what they would. In another of this year’s commemorative lectures, Christopher Frayling expertly dissected some of Bell’s assumptions about aesthetics and identified the residual presence of Ruskin and other Victorians (Bell was in so many ways very much a belated Victorian) in shaping what we are bound to see as an overoptimistic sense of convergence between creativity and faith. Indeed; yet his practice is, in this as in other areas, perhaps more complex and nuanced than his actual words. The world of the visual arts has been much disenchanted since Bell’s heyday, and Professor Frayling lays out authoritatively why re-enchantment is a long job, if it is possible at all. We have no common iconographical vocabulary, no symbols we all recognise even if we are doing new or subversive things with them. To imagine a simple convergence of visual art and theological understanding is fantasy. Yet, if my reading of Bell’s engagement with drama is right, there is a little more to be said: even in an artistic atmosphere dominated by individualism or abstract formalism, where the whole notion of a ‘commission’ from an institution like the Church is suspect, is it still true that art can work for public seriousness? And if so, is it still possible for the Church to assist in letting such voices be heard or images be seen?

I hope that by now it will be clear that what I’ve called answerability to the culture was not, for Bell, any kind of easy compliance: it was an attentive and sometimes risky strategy of seeking to give a hearing to those voices in the corporate imagination that were pushing the boundaries of what made obvious sense, that were moving beyond a simple consensus, whether of taste or of ethical sensitivity. It would have been relatively simple in 1928 for a religious drama to elide the painful realities of war and economic privation; Bell refused that simplicity and enabled at least some of the later Canterbury plays to address some of these same realities, and the related ethical knots of propaganda, complicity and raison d’état, the political rationalisation of violence, that surface in the most famous of all the Canterbury dramas – Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral, in whose commissioning Bell had played a part. More generally, though, what is implied here about the Church overall is of great significance. Bell had written in 1930, in his Brief Sketch of the Church of England, [v] that a national church was one in which ‘everybody has an interest of some kind’; [vi] and on its own, this could have been the recipe for a bland and narrowly pastoral account of the Church’s service to the society around. Bell’s practice suggests, in contrast, that a national church is one which can help to orchestrate a fuller argument in and about society than might otherwise happen, partly by offering a platform for certain otherwise inaudible or unwelcome voices. Precisely in its careful attention to what is actually being said and imagined in the creative arts, it becomes more than a pious mirror for one or another kind of dominant discourse. It helps to sustain within the nation’s culture a critical distance from the practices of power.

Bell and the Morality of Society

Hence the interweaving of Bell’s involvement with art and culture and his advocacy for those without voice in the international as well as the national context. It was an advocacy conducted unashamedly within the geography of the English establishment; Bell was out to persuade national decision-makers to decide differently, and he acted accordingly, in the Lords, in the correspondence columns of the mainstream press and by navigating that complex delta of mingling private relationships and affinities that composed the governing class of the interwar years. He was not a grandstanding prophet, unconcerned with how national decisions are made; his extraordinary network of personal contacts across Europe, largely born out of his ecumenical labours, meant that too many situations in the Europe of the thirties were of direct personal concern for him ever to be content with generalities. He wanted to save particular lives, not only to secure better outcomes for large numbers.

And this meant creating routes into the establishment for those with no obvious leverage or access. It is eternally to his credit that he – unlike rather too many of his colleagues in the Church of England – recognised almost instantly the nature of the threat posed by the Third Reich to Christian and civilised tradition, and the scope of the much more crude and direct threat to the Jewish people. (Among the English bishops of the day, only the proverbially brave and independent Henson of Durham fully shared this clarity.) When the mixture of covert anti-Semitism and a presupposition in favour of order and the combat with Bolshevism had blinded even relatively liberal and compassionate public commentators and politicians in Britain, he seems to have had no doubts of where the demands of truth lay. And this clarity was evident not only in Britain but in the wider ecumenical scene. In April 1934, Bonhoeffer, still at that point a pastor in the German church in Sydenham, wrote to Bell, quoting a letter from a friend in Germany about the crisis in the church there: ‘in the present moment there depends everything, absolutely everything on the attitude of the Bishop of Chichester’.[vii] An extravagant testimony, but one that shows how completely Bell was relied upon as the voice of the European Christian conscience, through his position in the Council for Life and Work; as the most important force in animating solidarity for a persecuted Christian minority in Germany, convinced (not without reason) that Christians elsewhere had only the dimmest notion of what was at stake for them.

It was the start of a long and costly involvement for Bell in the protection of all the victims of the Third Reich – increasingly in his pressure for the British Government to act on behalf of Jewish refugees, in his practical support for famine relief in Europe in the early years of the war, and, in a different register, in his consistent opposition to the pattern bombing of German cities – recognising that German civilians too were victims of the Reich, hostages of the Reich, and that the indiscriminate slaughter of such people was to adopt some of the enemy’s own callousness towards their own people. But both before and during the Second World War, there is a consistency also in what Bell wanted for the nation to which he belonged. In pressing for a responsible and moral stance towards refugees and in condemning methods in warfare that compromised the claim to be fighting ‘justly’, he was reminding his fellow-countrymen that the nation is not an entity whose interests can be thought about in isolation from an ethic extending across national boundaries. What is good for the United Kingdom cannot be defined in abstraction from what is good for those who look to the United Kingdom for generosity and integrity. We cannot call ourselves good if we betray what others expect from us in the light of that claim. A moral society is one that is strong enough to expose itself to the judgement of others, to hold itself accountable to more than its own immediate interests. Significantly, it was a point that Bell was still making in the 1950s, when the presenting issue was economic justice for the poorer nations and continents.

So we could say that responsibility ‘for’ the nation was something to do with the belief that the nation needed itself to be reminded of its own responsibility, its answerability to what is expected of it in a global moral context. Like many another tormented patriot in the modern age, Bell attacked an immoral consensus in his own society not out of a lack of commitment to the nation and its interests but out of a depth of commitment to the ‘imagined nation’ evoked in the most serious (to use the word again) elements in that nation’s traditional self-descriptions. The question Bell puts is essentially one which all public moralists must sooner or later, in one form of words or another, articulate: ‘Do we as a society actually want what we say we want?’

A national church in which everybody has an interest: standing alone, that is a potentially complacent account of what Bell believed about the Established Church; but in the context of his actions, it’s a definition that provokes deeper questions. Bell acted as though the Church were in some sense the guardian of the ‘interests’ of the nation insofar as the nation was a morally coherent society. It is not so much that society at large looks after the interest of the Church, but that society recognises that in the absence of the Church its own interests are gravely compromised. That recognition requires the nation to believe that its interests are not served by automatic self-defensiveness; that its flourishing may be in its exemplifying better some of the elements that its national mythology prizes – legal equity, the welcome of strangers, the willingness to take risks for a wider good (as, for example, in the abolition of the slave trade). The analogy with the prophet in ancient Israel here acquires some force: here is a voice that recalls the community to its basic self-images and self-understandings – assuming that the national community does indeed have a ‘myth’ about itself rather than just a commitment to its collective self-interest.

So Bell’s twofold witness comes to be essentially about challenging the society in which he works as to whether it has any shared sense of its worth, of what it is that its social forms and practices communicate about its vision of human flourishing. For Bell, as, again, for any public moralist, what matters about this or that society is whether it has anything to say about what’s good, interesting, life-giving for human beings in general, not just for this society or nation in isolation. This is never to reduce the particularities of a nation to moral generalities, variations on a cultural Esperanto whose local expressions are of no substantive concern. And it is precisely at this point that the specifics of a local culture come into play – the history and heritage of creativity in a particular language and ethos. Part of the Church’s responsibility to and for the nation at large is discharged by its readiness to nurture and support voices of questioning within the culture, voices that themselves challenge a society about what it considers to be of worth and meaning. Certainly, we are in a situation where even the residual optimism of Bell about the possible convergence of artist and churchman (and yes, I do mean churchman in this context) is not available. Yet this doesn’t mean that the Church today is spared the task of approaching the art of its day ready to listen and discern, and to try and see where it speaks to and at the level of seriousness that will pose the necessary questions for society. Bell’s engagement with the arts, whatever its limitations in retrospect, was emphatically of a piece with his later challenges to the moral self-image of Britain in a darkening Europe and a destructive war.

Bell and the Church in Society

For Bell himself, this was all undoubtedly bound up with his understanding of what an established church should be doing. Yet at the same time as his perspectives on these matters were maturing so impressively, the Established Church was going through a crisis of unprecedented severity. The year before Bell became a bishop, Parliament had for the second time rejected the Revised Prayer Book. Bell himself is one of the most punctilious chroniclers of the crisis in his biography of Archbishop Davidson; and his critical friend and intermittent ally, Hensley Henson, had, as a result of the Prayer Book debacle, abandoned his commitment to establishment. Were Bell’s own convictions shaken? It seems not; in 1930 he joined a Commission on Church and State (along with William Temple) set up by the bishops, which was more or less designed to sidetrack any talk of disestablishment.[viii] But to understand exactly what was involved at this moment, we need to grasp that what the Prayer Book crisis did for some was not to precipitate them into the arms of the disestablishers but to reinforce a sense that establishment needed to be sharply distinguished from subjection to state authority. As Matthew Grimley notes in his excellent monograph, a deep division had opened up between those like Bell and Temple who valued establishment as a vehicle for the kind of critical moral debate we have been reflecting on, and those in both the Modernist and the Conservative Evangelical camps at the time who looked to the authority of the state to protect them from both superstition and ecclesiastical hierarchy.[ix]

The salient point is that, as Grimley puts it,[x] ‘Most Evangelicals and modernists denied that the Church had an inherent right, as an association or as a divine society, to settle its own doctrine.’ This was completely antithetical to what Bell believed. If the Evangelical/Modernist position were to be accepted, there would never really be grounds for the Church, as a body of people committed to a specific revelation, to question what the state determines about ‘the orientation of the religious life of the nation’ (the phrase comes from the Evangelical paper, the Record, in 1927). And this was, of course, to be the issue at the heart of the German Church Struggle; Bell could not have spoken or acted as he did in regard to Germany if he had not been clear about the principles and limits of establishment in England. The Modernists and Evangelicals of 1927/8 cannot, of course, be blamed for not foreseeing where the German situation would end up within a few years, and some made due amends; likewise, we should have to acknowledge that some of the most embarrassing examples of collusion with the Nazi-influenced German Christian programme came from British churchmen with a quite different background (Hoskyns and Headlam, for example). But the central issue of 1927/8 must have done something to shape Bell’s thinking, not least as it was the painful nemesis of his patron and lodestar, Archbishop Randall Davidson.[xi]

For an established church to do its work on Bell’s presuppositions, it has to be more than just an established church; it has to have a theology that guarantees a wider horizon than the national. This, of course, has a great deal to do with the perspective Bell acquired through the ecumenical movement, but it is not simply an appeal to an international instead of a national Christian consensus. Bell evidently believed that the Church has to be able to give an account of why it is there at all, as a community that is not simply identical with the political community, however deeply it sees the destiny and health of that community as linked with its own life. The Church has to be able to propound and defend a view of what is due to human beings as such that is independent of a merely local or national loyalty or even of an international ideological loyalty. In short, the Church exercises its responsibility to and for the nation and its culture precisely by being itself responsible to more than the nation and its culture. In other words, Bell’s twofold concern with the arts and the political morality of government illustrates not the virtues of a Church embedded in its cultural environment in the most obvious way, but the essential importance of both transnational and theologically grounded interests in its life. The Church is ‘serious’ because it is in some degree strange to its environment as well as committed to understand and serve that environment. And an openness to the life of the imagination is simply one way in which that strangeness can be refreshed and strengthened: the culture of a nation is not a matter of repetition and self-reinforcement but of that ‘continuity of conflict’ that Alasdair Macintyre has identified as central to the vitality of any tradition. The Church has no business being less strange and challenging than the best of the artistic life of its society.

A Church whose roots lie in the event of the Incarnation cannot be other than strange to its society. It embodies the conviction that the uncontainable creative energy that undergirds all reality is uniquely and uninterruptedly at work in a human life at a particular juncture in history, so that this human life communicates possibilities that human history left to itself could never generate. Among those possibilities, crucially, is the vision of an interdependent and universal human fellowship, living by mutual gift rather than mutual rivalry. And in any imaginable human situation, this will produce tensions with the specific loyalties and priorities that are assumed by fellow-citizens or kinsfolk. At a time when it is easy to be weighed down with anxiety about the degree to which we are satisfactorily adjusted to our cultural context, it does no harm to have a reminder that the ‘legitimacy’ of the Church is not based on the permission of a social authority: it answers to something other than the dominant structures of the day.

Yet, it is the same incarnational theology that reminds us that God has spoken in a particular dialect and a particular body, and not in generalities or abstract principles. The Church speaks the languages of its environment, and one of its most distinctive features – to pick up a point developed elsewhere[xii] – is that it assumes its Scriptures can and must be translated, over and over again. It is heavily invested in the deeper discovery of what is given to it in revelation through the encounter with new and diverse contexts. It may be strange, but it cannot be simply alien and incomprehensible; it is always seeking to understand itself in the endlessly varied exchanges of cultural life within and between societies.

What I have been arguing is simply that Bell instinctively understood this essential duality in the character of the Church (and in the character of a Christ described in the orthodox formulations as complete in both his unfathomable divinity and his familiar humanity). And if there is a vital role to be played these days by what is fashionably called ‘narrative theology’ (granted all the reservations and criticisms that may be made, criticisms brilliantly developed in Francesca Murphy’s recent book on the subject), we could reasonably say that telling Bell’s story is one way of elucidating what might have seemed abstract doctrinal statements about the nature of Christ and his Church. Stories that present the Church as struggling to hold the tension between the two responsibilities I sketched at the beginning of this lecture are an essential tool for maintaining the Church in a proper and critical self-awareness. Neglecting theology may be an attractive course for the practically-minded, but some at least of the narratives of the twentieth century present rather sharply the practically disastrous results of this, when the absence of a clear self-understanding on the part of the Church leads to an abrogation of responsibility. Laying out the narrative becomes part of the theological education we need – which is, once again, why remembering Bell is not an exercise in nostalgia.

He does not give us a simple answer to the conundrum of how to understand and work with the residue of establishment in England today; but in gently pushing us towards a recognition of the critical possibilities in this historical situation, he also reminds us that what there is of moral and spiritual substance in our legacy is not primarily about any power to direct and control the social process or about a guaranteed security for the privileges of a particular ecclesial organisation. It is something to do with the opportunities of engaging with some very tough and complex questions about how a society scrutinises itself in the light of what lies beyond its political fashions and immediate interests. And it will do that most honestly, of course, if it is itself ready to confront its own reality, its weaknesses and its gifts, with clarity.

Establishment can be the nurse of an over-ambitious sense of what ‘the Church’ means in society. In a very characteristic passage, the late Donald MacKinnon sets Bell’s descriptions of Archbishop Davidson at work alongside the contemporary struggles, the passionate quarrels and plottings of those who were forging a revolutionary future in Russia – Lenin and his friends and enemies. The conjunction is almost, but not quite, comical – not quite when you consider the scale and cost of what emerged from the latter. ‘No one,’ writes MacKinnon, ‘can read Bell’s great life of that most considerable of twentieth-century primates [Davidson], without being made aware that here was a man of great wisdom and unquestionable goodness, who saw his role in part at least as that of being the very effective instrument of an informed Christian presence at the heart and centre of British life in the very heyday of Britain’s imperial power’.[xiii] Yet where were the forces that in fact were moulding the greatest social changes of the world in the first decades of the last century? Not in the well-mannered corridors of power familiar to Davidson. Establishment, MacKinnon goes on, is defended because it ‘assures that a Christian voice is heard in the places where great decisions are made. But what places are these?’[xiv]

Bell’s dual sensitivity to art and politics constituted one factor which kept him from settling down with a merely conventional answer to that devastating question; one factor which made him in some ways a greater man than Davidson. If my reading of certain aspects of Bell’s life here has been at all accurate, he retained a rare capacity to see the Church’s responsibility as related to those whose voices did not find an easy hearing in the ‘heart and centre of British life’ as normally conceived, and to understand that the calling of an established church had something to do with this. An established church can only do what it is meant to if it is a great deal more than an established church; if it is coherently aware both of the larger global context in which its national society lives, and, above all, of the ultimate context of the Church’s existence in the initiative of the strange and transcendent God. Peter Ackroyd, in his biography of Eliot, describes a weekend in December 1930 at the Palace in Chichester where Eliot read ‘Ash Wednesday’ to a mixed group of guests, receiving a somewhat baffled reception. Ackroyd comments that Eliot’s ‘was not the kind of religion at home in bishops’ palaces’.[xv] You can see his point; but it is actually a slightly off-key observation about this particular bishop’s palace. Bell, rather like Temple, can give the impression of someone whose Anglican and Christian identity was fundamentally untroubled, despite the apocalyptic character of the events through which he lived; but, if my reading is correct, then, whatever Bell’s private state of feeling, he (more than Temple?) knew that cultural or political cosiness was a temptation to be strenuously resisted as the most insidious temptation for an ‘insider’ in the British establishment; and he knew that if the insider failed to use his patronage and leverage for the voices that the establishment as not eager to hear, then there was a serious moral issue about that established status. For that knowledge alone, Bell deserves to be heard and rediscovered by Anglicans and, no doubt, by other British Christians, generation by generation.

© Rowan Williams 2008



[i] Second edition (Colwall, 2001)

 [ii] p.91; c.f. pp.134—6

[iii] p.93

[iv] Pickering, pp.110f

[v] (London, 1930)

[vi] p.120

[vii] Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works – London, 1933—1935 (Minneapolis, 2007), vol. xiii, p.128

[viii] See Matthew Grimley: Citizenship, Community and the Church of England (Oxford, 2004), pp.148f

[ix] Grimley, pp.147—151

[x] p.150

[xi] Archbishop of Canterbury 1903—28, whom Bell served as chaplain 1914—24

[xii] In a sermon at St Paul’s Cathedral during a Thanksgiving Service on 8 March 2004 to celebrate the Bicentenary of the British and Foreign Bible Society: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/1171

[xiii] Explorations in Theology (London 1979), p.19

[xiv] p.20

[xv] Peter Ackroyd: T S Eliot (London, 1984), p.181


The Archbishop received a large number of written questions after his University of Chichester lecture, which he grouped and answered as follows:


‘If Bell were alive today what do you think his reaction would have been to the selection of a German as Pope?’ and ‘Would it have been a good thing if Bishop George Bell had become archbishop?’


I think Bell would have been rather delighted by the election of a German Pope. I think it would have vindicated his very clear sense that Germany was not a monolithic ‘lump’ of evil in the European heartland, that Germany was a mixed, complex society in which people struggle to find ways of living with integrity (as anywhere else). He consistently refused to demonise Germany overall. I think he would have been very interested in the present Pope’s European vision. I think they would have had a lot to talk to each other about.

And ‘Would it have been a good thing if George Bell had become Archbishop?’ Opinion is divided, but actually I still think it would. I think that Bell would have been far less competent an administrator than Geoffrey Fisher, and we would have had to wait a little bit longer for the Church of England’s Canon Law, which was Fisher’s great enterprise. But then I suspect that that might not have been absolutely the first priority in terms of the Kingdom of God, during the late Forties and Fifties! So yes, I rather think so, but then that’s partly because Donald McKinnon was one of my teachers and I believed most of what he said, and he certainly thought that.


How does the Church avoid being drawn into ideological propaganda? The more the Church engages in the issues of the day, isn’t there a risk that the Church may find itself voicing the propaganda or interest of some section or issue group?


I think the only answer to that is that the Church needs constantly to pray, to be faithful to what makes it distinctive: constantly to be reflecting on itself and its own integrity in terms of its foundation documents and its basic practices. I think a Church whose unity and focus is simply ideals, especially ideals of justice and progress and so forth, that’s fine: but if they’re not rooted in the ‘strangeness’ of revelation, then I think it all dries up, and the Church does become easily just another voice in the ideological debate. And as the questioner notes, there have been some rather unpleasant examples of that in the twentieth century: and as Bell knew very well indeed, the Church could be very effectively conscripted into the service of the ideology of Nazism.


How in today’s Church may we continue to maintain the dialogue about Niebuhr’s insights: Christ above culture, within culture, against culture and beyond culture?


For those who don’t know Reinhold Niebuhr’s great book on Christ and Culture: those are the categories that this very distinguished German-American theologian proposes for understanding the relations between Christ and culture: the Church can work from within, it can work against, it can have an oppositional minority stance, it can seek to penetrate the structures of its society. And as chance would have it, I’ve just been reading a very interesting American book which questions the whole basis on which Niebuhr’s analysis works and says that it’s too artificial and slanted towards Niebuhr’s own preferred conclusions, unsurprisingly. So I think that we probably need to step back a bit from too many generalizations about it and say that it’s not so much about Christ and culture, it’s about the community of Christ in its distinctiveness and worshipping practice and its study of the Bible, Eucharist and Baptism: that kind of community, relating to a variety of cultural institutions, with no such thing as culture in general, but cultures, with the question always in the Church’s mind, ‘How does our engagement with this particular context , this kind of politics, this kind of art, advance the Kingdom of God in some ways?’ How do we in our encounter with whatever our society throws at us, seek to set forward that kind of humanity which God wills as his purpose for us all?


Representations of religion are still a significant part of the ‘heritage’ business. Is this a valuable commodity or potentially damaging?


The answer I think, is both. You can end up with the impression that religion is one of those quaint things that people ‘used to do’ and you can – as frequently happens in fiction and drama these days – paint amazingly unreal pictures of religious practice and language in other ages, because you’ve no sense of how it really worked. Although it would be invidious to mention any one instance, there is that recent, astonishing television series on ‘The Tudors’ (so called): a very marked example of a kind of breathtaking illiteracy about the past. The past becomes twenty-first century soap opera in fancy dress, and religion goes with it. You know you’ve got to have it because ‘there were archbishops in the sixteenth century, weren’t there?’ so you’ve got to have them around: but how they worked, what they thought, what they felt, what it was like? There’s no interest at all! So, I’m wary about the heritage industry and the presence of a kind of ‘soft-focus’ and rather inaccurate version of religion within that. On the other hand, anything that does remind us that once there were archbishops of Canterbury and ‘where have they all gone?’ isn’t a bad point just to start a conversation going in the twenty-first century! So there are opportunities there. And I think what we’ve discovered in the last ten years, is that the presence and impact of churches and cathedrals within the heritage world and tourism isn’t necessarily trivial. People find that these are places where you can ‘put the bits of your humanity that won’t go anywhere else’. And the Dean in his sermon last night in the Cathedral said some very powerful things about how that plays out here in Chichester Cathedral: where do people go with certain sorts of experience or crisis? And the presence of Christian images and places in the heritage world is just a reminder that there is somewhere where these things can be taken: that’s not trivial.


Thinkers tend to be marginalized in our society. What happens about leading academics at the heart of our society?


I wouldn’t necessarily consign the government of this country to academics, but I do worry occasionally that, while the appetite in many quarters for serious debate about what matters for human beings is there, we’re pushing up hill rather, against a very short-term mentality, a very quick-fix mentality, and a mentality that doesn’t much like the reality of continuing debate. It’s as if people want to say ‘That’s it, now we move on’. So insofar as the Church is part of what the great Raymond Williams called ‘the long revolution’ of keeping the thinking going, critically, then the Church’s voice is not going to be all that popular or welcome in that environment. And we just have a hard job, and I don’t think that anything I say is going to make that easier.


But it’s related to a number of these other questions about what’s happening at the moment: how does the established Church respond to the prophetic voice and present-day secular society? And here’s a question about what ethical guidance can be credibly given to the financial community at the moment.


On the economic crisis at the moment: I think the Church has got to be incredibly modest about offering specific solutions. A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of having dinner with a very significant and sophisticated financial journalist who said he had twelve points he was recommending the government to adopt to solve the financial crisis. And I thought, ‘Well, I’m glad somebody has, but actually that’s not the Church’s job and twelve points arriving from Lambeth Palace on the Chancellor’s desk to solve the financial crisis would, quite rightly, be written off! But the Church can keep ‘needling’ at some of the fundamental attitudes (just how did we get here, to a situation in which the unreality of a lot of our financial life simply spirals out of control?) How did we get to a situation where we no longer ask some basic questions about trust? Now, that doesn’t provide the instant answer to the specific critical question: it does say that everyone involved in this (and that means all of us as investors) needs some scrutiny of themselves, and in so many contexts what the Church has to say is, ‘Look at yourself, and take the time that needs’.

And responding to the prophetic voice: the catch about prophecy is that on the whole you don’t know that this is prophecy at the moment. Somebody gets up in a social situation and says, ‘The judgement of God on this society is X, Y and Z’. Now, do you believe them? Well you may or may not and later on you may find that they were right and you were wrong. You may hitch your wagon to it and say, ‘This is right’, and feel a complete fool the other way round, but that’s prophecy. Even in the Old Testament it’s quite clear that when prophets get up and speak, it’s very seldom the case that everybody then says, ‘How true’. The only case of that recorded in the Old Testament is in the book of Jonah. Jonah walks into the middle of Nineveh and says, ‘Forty days and Nineveh will be destroyed: repent!’ And the Ninevites say with one voice, ‘Oh, alright then!’ Which is why—a little-known fact—Jonah is the comic masterpiece of the Old Testament: a very deliberate fantasy on prophetic themes meant to remind us that sometimes the people who are absolutely outside the Covenant, the complete outsiders who inhabit Nineveh, are more likely to respond to the word of God than some of the people who ought to! But on the whole prophecy doesn’t work like that and that’s why discernment is so hard and protracted a job. Trying to listen into the heart of what’s said to find God in it or not, knowing the risk of it and knowing that either a yes or a no can be very problematic in the long run. But when you hear a voice which is prophetic in the sense of being very fundamentally critical of you, of the society or the Church – the first question is not to ask how to get this tiresome person out of sight and sound, it’s to ask if God is saying something to me that I have got to hear for my health. Start there and see what follows: talk to your friends: pray.


And sort of apropos really, here’s a question about Philip Pullman’s work; asking if it is an important contemporary expression of what Bell mean by public seriousness?


Absolutely: I think Philip Pullman is globally and dramatically wrong about God and the Universe, and on his way to that ‘global wrongness’ he says so many things that are so interesting and so engaging and challenging that it would be a fool that would write him off as ‘just another atheist’. Work through, see what he has and hasn’t understood about Christianity. Just let your mind be enlarged by the beautiful, imaginative world he takes you into. But don’t lose your head either. Keep asking the questions. And Pullman is just one example of a number of very different writers who, by portraying a very different world from the one Christians usually inhabit, have the capacity to enlarge and deepen. When I think of very professedly anti-religious writers (an example I sometimes use is Ian McEwan, when you’ve read one of his novels, again you might think that it’s not quite the world you inhabit) I’m grateful for having been taken there, and there’s something more that emerges at the end of it all. I think that’s how we should constantly be approaching the arts.


If Bell were alive today what issues would he be pursuing?


I think on the basis of what we know of him, he would have been profoundly concerned about how we treat asylum-seekers and detainees in this country. He would have known, as we all know that it’s not a simple question to sort it out. He would have known also that there are some aspects of that system, especially as it affects children and young people, which are intolerable. He would have focused quite a bit on that. I ask myself where he would have been on the question of the Iraq war and I don’t know that I’m sure of the answer. Bell wasn’t a pacifist: he believed that sometimes force was a necessary evil in international affairs and he believed, actually, that the Second World War was a just war. But precisely for that reason of course, he believed that taking it forward unjustly undermined your own initial case, and he might have said ‘Well let’s see how the war in Iraq was actually prosecuted,’ what the scale of civilian casualties actually was and how far it could be explained away. I’m not sure he’d have come to a terribly positive conclusion about that, but it’s an open question to me.


How does the Church present a coherent voice when individual bishops and priests say such different things?


Well, in the Church — because its leaders are fallible and sinful men (and occasionally women) just like everybody else – it’s actually rather unusual for the Church to speak with one voice on certain matters. Sometimes when bishops are in conflict over what seem to be rather major or fundamental matters, it can be an embarrassment. But it’s the kind of embarrassment that can only be avoided if you only have one voice for the Church. And I think not even the most orthodox Roman Catholic would believe you ought to have just one voice for the Church. So it’s a risk that you run. The discernment always has to be: testing what any bishop or what anyone else says in the light of that bishop’s place in the whole scheme of Christian tradition and understanding. It can’t be just how I feel or how the vicar feels or how my best friend feels or the fact that I don’t like the bishop’s face on television or whatever: just put what’s being said into that wider context; test it with other Christians; work at it.


How can the Church manage its task of serving and reshaping culture, given the violence and immorality in populist drama, without the Church being denounced for liberalism or being dismissed as a modern-day Mary Whitehouse?


For anybody in the public life of the Church there is a level at which you just have to admit that you’re going to look stupid quite a lot of the time. Because in our world of celebrity and saturation communication part of the interest of all that keeps that going is to make public figures look silly a lot of the time. Sometimes they are silly; sometimes they’re not so silly (and naturally I think I’m never silly!) but it’s one of the prices that have to be paid. It’s quite important to realize that the place where the difference is made may not be the House of Lords but it may not be the editorial conference of a newspaper either. The differences are still made by the face-to-face relations of people, by bishop or a church leader actually being there with their people; actually communicating directly – and that, remarkably, does survive a good deal of media distortion. The Church is fundamentally committed to the face-to-face: which is its weakness and its strength. In a media-obsessed culture it can feel like a weakness: in the long term, it’s a strength. It means that the vision, the priorities, the sense of value in the Church moves not just according to fashion or what people tell you to think, but steadily through the relations of actual human beings worshipping together, thinking together and listening together. So I don’t worry too much about that.


Here is a question about Bell and the visual arts.


I read Prof Christopher Frayling’s earlier lecture on this and it is a spectacularly interesting account of Bell’s work with the visual arts. I think again his taste was often conservative, but he encouraged risk and the role of Walter Hussey, under Bell’s encouragement and patronage (here in Chichester as Dean) is part of a very interesting and good story about the Church and the arts.


A couple of quick answers to general questions: Do you agree with Thomas Carlyle that wonder is the basis of worship? If so, do atheists lack a sense of wonder and thus imagination?


I do agree with Thomas Carlyle on this at least. And one of the interesting things of course is that an atheist like Philip Pullman quite clearly can evoke a sense of wonder and deliver an imaginative world of huge richness. It’s connecting that wonder to love that’s the particular Christian extra – not just that I wonder at the glory and splendour and mystery of the world, but that that wonder first leads me into the sense of being the recipient of a loving gift and then that gift being drawn out of myself in a relationship. That’s where worship is – not only wonder (though it can’t happen without it); and where the atheist who has a great sense of wonder is I believe still be losing out on something.


A question about public seriousness: is it possible? And is it possible when the strangeness is factored in?


Well, I don’t know but I think it’s worth working for. I said at the beginning of the lecture that Bell had been described as someone whose many commitments didn’t succeed, but even if he’d known this, he’d still have got on with them. Public seriousness is something that’s worth fighting for whether or not we manage to deliver it.


A question from someone writing a PhD on the future of the Church in Southampton: What compelling aspiration do you hope that the deanery should achieve over the next five to ten years?


The aspiration of any deanery or local church ought to be twofold. It ought to be constantly re-shaping itself as a learning church, a church that believes it’s possible to grow into the understanding of God; and it ought to be seeking always to be credible and to have integrity and plausibility in the eyes of its neighbours, through what it does with them and for them.


Why do you believe in Christianity and not any other religion? Have you ever had times of not believing in God?


I don’t think I’ve ever had a time of not believing in God. As I said in a recent interview, there have been times when I’m not at all sure what I’ve been believing in when I’ve been believing in God and I can’t see my way at all clearly. But I’ve never felt the bottom has completely dropped out of that.

But why do I stick to Christianity (having been brought up in it) and not any other religion? (It’s not as if one ever comes to religions as a shelf full of products.) Because I believe that Christianity in its commitment to the absolute centrality of relation within God and gift: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, bestowing-life into each other, eternally. That is an absolutely unique revolutionary insight which transforms how we see personal reality, being itself, and the possibilities for this world. I don’t think any other faith has that vision at the heart of it and that’s the vision I want to give my allegiance to.

© Rowan Williams 2008

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The George Bell-Gerhard Leibholz Correspondence, edited by Gerhard Ringshausen and Andrew Chandler

12 JULY 2019


John Arnold reviews letters that shed light on George Bell’s life

THEY were an unlikely pair — the English bishop and the German Christian-Jewish constitutional lawyer — but they were linked by the fact that Bell shared a birthday with Leibholz’s wife, Sabine, and thus with her twin brother, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who is present, off-stage, throughout the book. It was the Bonhoeffer connection that made it natural for Leibholz to turn to Bell for help, when he and his family escaped from Nazi Germany in 1938. Practical help in finding food and shelter, work and income, and in dealing with intractable bureaucracies, dominates the early phase of the correspondence and recurs throughout.

Leibholz was only one of many whom Bell was aiding, before, during, and after the war, with advocacy and practical Christianity. In 1945, Bell was supporting Dietrich’s youngest sister, Susanne, in getting members of her husband’s congregation in Berlin to put slices of bread in the collection plate for starving children. He does all this and more, while fulfilling, even over-fulfilling, the duties of his daytime job as Bishop of Chichester. He is unfailingly kind, thoughtful, practical, and effective, making full use of his position at the heart of the Ecumenical Movement and of the Establishment with easy access to politicians, publishers, universities, and, above all, the House of Lords, which gave him a platform for his prophetic ministry to the nation and beyond.

This is the core of the book, in which Leibholz’s mastery of jurisprudence and knowledge of Germany inform Bell’s passion for justice. Their chief concern was the Christian and democratic future of Germany and of Europe. They were strongly opposed to both Fascism and Communism, but feared that British and Allied vindictive attitudes (typified by Robert Vansittart) and the policy of unconditional surrender failed to distinguish between Nazis and Germans, deprived the resistance of hope, and prolonged the war.




They were deeply critical of the agreements reached in Casablanca, Yalta, and Potsdam, and, while wanting a unified Germany, feared that it could be only a communist one. After three years of political stagnation, 1945-48, they rejoiced to see the beginnings of the Marshall Plan and the establishment of the Federal Republic, though at the cost of a separate German Democratic Republic. Leibholz was restored to his Professorship at Göttingen, and became a leading member of the Federal Constitutional Court. He is regarded as one of the founders of the modern German State.

The exchange of letters is a delight. However intimate and affectionate the contents, they consistently address each other as “Dear Leibholz” and “My Lordbishop” (sic). Leibholz is expressing himself in a second language; so there are inevitable infelicities. Bell writes with unfailing clarity and charity, compassion and care. In a letter of 1945, he lets us into the secret: “I don’t want to say things that are unnecessary or untrue, and I want to remember the minds of the reader into whose hands such [letters] might fall. I want to say no word that cannot be substantiated.”

Readers should include all who care for truth and right, justice and mercy, German and church history, and Bonhoeffer studies. The book is beautifully produced with an introduction, real footnotes, extensive bibliography and index, and two appendices: Gerhard’s perceptive and appreciative review of Bell’s Christianity and World Order, and Sabine’s wide-eyed memoir of the family’s first visit to Chichester in January 1939.

Leibholz died, crowned with years and honours, in 1982, and Bell in 1958, after chairing a meeting of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches and attending the Lambeth Conference. As Leibholz and his wife wrote to his widow: “What made him unique was that he put into action the spirit which moved him and commanded his conscience. The World has become poorer by a really great man. . . We have to thank him for having granted us the privilege of setting up a bond of friendship which shall last forever and which death cannot destroy.”

The Very Revd Dr John Arnold is a former Dean of Durham.


The George Bell-Gerhard Leibholz Correspondence: In the long shadow of the Third Reich, 1934-1958
Gerhard Ringshausen and Andrew Chandler, editors 

Bloomsbury £85
Church Times Bookshop £76.

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Listening for God’s eternal ‘Yes’

27 MARCH 2020


Now 93, Jürgen Moltmann sits down with Natalie Watson and looks back at a theology of hope




Professor Moltmann delivers the 2020 Gore Lecture at Westminster Abbey, this month

BORN in 1926, in the same year as the Queen, Jürgen Moltmann has become something of a household name, or even an icon, of the theology of the 20th and early 21st century. There is hardly a reading list for theology students on which the name of this German theologian does not feature prominently.

And Britain features prominently in the life of the 93-year-old, who, at the beginning of this month, delivered the Gore Lecture at Westminster Abbey. The topic was “hope”, and his book Theology of Hope (SCM Press, 1967) was what put him on the theological map of the world. In the English-speaking world, this is by no means his best-known book: his later works The Crucified God and Trinity and the Kingdom of God (theology students will remember the “social doctrine” of the Trinity) are classics.

Moltmann was born in Hamburg, north Germany’s largest city. It was the time of the Weimar Republic — pre-war Germany’s short-lived and ill-fated attempt at democracy — and religion had almost no place in the life of the family of teachers into which he was born. His grandfather was a freemason and grandmaster of a lodge.

By the time he was sent to take instruction in preparation for confirmation — the rite of passage into adulthood at age 14 — the Nazis were in power, and the pastor who instructed him and his peers was a German-Christian sympathiser who told the boys that Jesus was an Aryan, really. There was no indication that the young Jürgen would become one of his country’s most celebrated theologians. He was planning to study mathematics.

His childhood and youth were, in many ways, typical of his generation. Their world was secular, and was interrupted only when war broke out in 1939. In 1943, Moltmann received his call-up papers, and, in July of that year, he experienced the firestorm: the destruction of Hamburg, an important port and industrial centre. One of his closest friends was killed by a bomb that spared him, and the question on his mind was “Why?”

“That was the first time I called out to God,” he tells me as we sit in the bar of a central London hotel. What follows is a story that has been told many times, not least in his memoirs, A Broad Place: An autobiography (SCM Press), published in English in 2007. In the last months of the war, Germany was already in chaos: the war was lost, and allied troops were on German territory. Moltmann’s unit had been dispersed, and he was straying through a forest on his own when he encountered a British-Canadian unit. Having learnt English at school, he called out: “I surrender!” “They didn’t shoot me.”

Moltmann was duly taken prisoner, and, as he relayed to the audience at Westminster Abbey, the next morning one of the soldiers brought him a mess tin of baked beans. “Since then, I have loved baked beans. For me, they taste of life.”

After six months in a prisoner-of-war (POW) camp in Ostende, in Belgium, the prisoners were loaded on a ship. The war in Europe had ended, and they assumed that they were on their way back to their home cities in Germany, Hamburg, or Bremerhaven, perhaps. In the morning, they were allowed to go on deck, and, to their surprise and perhaps shock, what they saw was Tower Bridge. From London, they were taken to a POW camp in Scotland, and Moltmann and his comrades were sent to work building roads near Kilmarnock.

Moltmann has often spoken about how he and his fellow prisoners — former enemies, after all — experienced the hospitality of the local populace as incredibly kind and yet deeply shaming. Altogether he would spend three years in Britain. As the Cold War began, and the attitudes of the Western Allies towards Germany changed, education programmes for young Germans were set up. Young German POWs were able to complete their schooling and to qualify for university entrance.

PICTURE PARTNERSHIP/WESTMINSTER ABBEYProfessor Moltmann delivers the 2020 Gore Lecture at Westminster Abbey, this month. The Abbey’s Canon Theologian, the Revd Dr Jamie Hawkey, chaired the event

Watched by an armed British officer, Moltmann was taken south to Nottinghamshire, to a camp near Mansfield. He later described the time spent at Camp Norton as the most intellectually intense and rich time of his life. Here, he studied his first semester of theology before eventually returning to Germany in April 1948.


The George Bell-Gerhard Leibholz Correspondence, edited by Gerhard Ringshausen and Andrew Chandler#


John Arnold reviews letters that shed light on George Bell’s life

In the autumn of 1948, he took up his studies in Göttingen, completing them in 1952, with both the examinations qualifying him for service in the Church, and a theological doctorate under his belt. On many occasions, he has ascribed the latter to the fact that, on a journey with fellow students to Copenhagen, he had met a young theology student, Elisabeth Wendel, well known in her own right as a theologian and one of the pioneers of feminist theology. “So I asked Otto Weber [her doctoral supervisor] for a thesis topic, so I could get to know her.”

The couple married in 1952, and, until Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel’s death in 2016, their theological working lives were closely intertwined. I told Moltmann that the final question in a Church Times interview is always: “With whom would you like to be locked in a church?” He hesitates, and then says: “With my wife.” And, after a moment, “and my friend Hans Küng.”

The former is certainly no surprise: Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, like her husband, was an ambassador of theology from other parts of the world to Germany. In her case, it was the work of the North American feminist theologians, and, as I reminisced about Moltmann’s work with other audience members in Westminster Abbey, one of them mentioned their joint book God His and Hers. Moltmann said that he owes to her the ability to speak subjectively, to say “I” in theology: “As a man, I had learnt to say ‘God is love’, but I should also be able to say ‘I experience God as loving.’”


THE ability to speak for oneself in theology, for many different voices to be heard, and to be heard authentically has been a constant in the many theological conversations that he has been involved in over the years. His political theology of hope inspired the liberation theologians of the 1970s and ’80s.

In 1976, he famously responded to the critique of his work by liberation theologians, in an open letter to the Argentine Protestant theologian José Míguez Bonino. In the letter, he warned against the provincialisation of theology, but also criticised liberation theologians for relying too much on the voices of their European antecedents (reminding them that Karl Marx had, after all, been born in Trier) rather than speaking with an authentically Latin American voice and remembering to “turn to the people”.

Thinking and speaking for oneself is still important to the nonagenarian. What would he say to young people now, perhaps those setting out to study theology? “Process your own experiences. Seek adventures in other countries, and work through them theologically.


Take the earphone plugs out of your ears and sing, yourselves; switch off your smartphones and start to think for yourselves.”


He speaks of his great respect for the young generation and their engagement in political and environmental matters, and then adds, wistfully, “I would love to be young again.”


FOR most of his professional life, his home was the University of Tübingen, in south Germany — perhaps in some ways an unlikely place for a northerner. Here, he worked as an ordinary professor for systematic theology from 1967 until his official retirement in 1994.

In many ways, Moltmann is a very German theologian, steeped in the tradition of “systematic theology” — Reformed rather than Lutheran — and in dialogue with the German intellectual and cultural tradition.

The focus of his Gore Lecture this year was a quotation from the 19th-century German poet and philosopher Friedrich Hölderlin: “Where there is danger, salvation grows also.” There were also references to Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s play Nathan the Wise (1779), and the idealist philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

Yet, even after a career as a professor at several German universities, spanning five decades, Moltmann’s work is much better known and has had a much deeper impact beyond its borders. Once again, perhaps the prophet is not without honour, save in his own country.

Long before his contemporaries, he was aware of, and entered into dialogue with, theologians from other parts of the world. He was the first to introduce German Protestant theologians to the political theologies of Asia and Latin America. I ask him where this journey began, and he talks about his regular visits to Korea, beginning in 1975. Nine of the most eminent theologians of that country undertook their doctoral studies with Moltmann in Tübingen. He also mentions Nicaragua, where he helped to found the first Protestant university, in Managua.

In the English-speaking world, the Croatian-American theologian Miroslav Volf, the author of works such as Exclusion and Embrace, undertook his doctoral studies with Moltmann in Tübingen. Increasingly, Moltmann’s theological work opened out into multiple conversations rooted and grounded in God’s active presence in the world, perhaps best evident in his second book on Christology, The Way of Jesus Christ (SCM Press, 1989), where — still somewhat unusually for a German systematic theologian — he engages with the political theologies of Africa and Latin America, and also with feminist and disability theologians.

But, in the beginning, there was the “theology of hope”. While his work in the early years of his career had largely been historical, and focused on theology in the Dutch and German Reformed tradition, by the 1960s he was becoming increasingly interested in developing a theology that engaged with the questions of the present day.

For him, this meant returning to Christian theology, and also to the People of God, its authentic hope for the future, to restore to the Christian message a strong emphasis on God’s eternal “yes”, given in God’s promise proclaimed by the prophets of the Old Testament, in the hope for the resurrection of the dead promised in the raising of the crucified Christ, and in understanding human history as the mission of the Kingdom of God.

But it was an encounter with the Jewish Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch, the author of The Principle of Hope, that sparked what was to become an epoch-making theological work — a departure that gave Moltmann his own voice and continues to be his subject today. It marked a new beginning for a theology that was public and political, confident and credible, in calling people together to work for the common good.


THEOLOGY OF HOPE (SCM Press, 1967) struck a chord not only among theologians; it made it on to the front pages of Newsweek and Time — and also on to the index of forbidden books of the East German Stasi.

Where the United States, full of the optimism of the Kennedy era, saw cause for hope that new beginnings were possible, even in the Church, the Stasi sensed danger.

“A distribution of the book in the GDR [German Democratic Republic] would encourage a Christian attitude which, in contrast to the socialist reality, looks for this reality to be surmounted in the future, and is oriented towards a future Christian society,” the Stasi censor wrote in 1966.

The book was duly banned, and Moltmann was barred from lecturing in the GDR for the next ten years. But the rest, as they say, is history; and, among the readers of copies of Theology of Hope smuggled behind the Iron Curtain were the pastors whose invitations to open conversations about the future of the planet and prayers for peace sparked the peaceful revolution of 1989.

In the 1960s, Moltmann was writing for a world that had lost its innocence: in Germany, through the experience of the Nazi dictatorship and the Holocaust — for Moltmann, as for most of his generation, this is still very present; and for the world, through the possibility of a nuclear holocaust. The human race had entered its own endtime.

PICTURE PARTNERSHIP/WESTMINSTER ABBEYProfessor Moltmann delivers the 2020 Gore Lecture at Westminster Abbey, this month. The Abbey’s Canon Theologian, the Revd Dr Jamie Hawkey, chaired the event

Theology of Hope is a book of its time, but it is certainly not a baptised version of Bloch’s philosophy, as Karl Barth alleged. At its heart is not Marxism, but messianic hope.

In his Gore Lecture, Moltmann spoke of the dangers of our time: the poison of hatred (citing Camus’s observation that Europe no longer loved life); the rising new nationalism after the end of the Cold War; nuclear rearmament and the possibility of a nuclear suicide of the world; and, of course, the impeding ecological catastrophe.

“It is too late for pessimism,” he said. “We must act as if the future depended on us, and trust that our children will survive.”

Life, for Moltmann, is not an accident of nature, and, therefore, he holds that we must create a culture that recognises the common life of humankind. This, for him, is not merely Christian brotherhood, but is to be extended to all people. Human life not only implies the gift of life, but also the responsibility of being human. Life must be lived both privately and publicly.

He speaks of the importance of human rights, of democracy, and, in answer to a question from the audience about what should replace the word “power”, he replies “Solidarity.”

I ask him who his conversation partners would be now, after the end of the Cold War and the discreditation of Marxism. He replies: “The Chinese,” and calls for the nations to work together in the face of impending dangers, be it the coronavirus, climate change, or carbon poisoning.


DURING a conference about the Theology of Hope at Duke University, Durham, in North Carolina, the news broke of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.: an event that became the catalyst for writing The Crucified God, first published in German in 1972 and in English in 1975, and, most recently, reissued by the SCM Press in 2015.

Beyond Germany, this is, perhaps, the book that has had the most profound impact. Moltmann told me that, even now, more than 40 years after its publication, he receives at least one letter a month from somewhere around the world telling him about how this book has changed the reader’s life.

The Crucified God was an attempt to speak about God in the wake of Auschwitz, after the death of God. In the preface to the 40th-anniversary edition, he tells of a letter that he received in 1990 from the American theologian Robert McAfee Brown, about the murder of six Jesuit priests and their housekeeper and her daughter in San Salvador.


Lives Reclaimed: A story of rescue and resistance in Nazi Germany, by Mark Roseman

William Whyte on anti-Nazi efforts in Germany

One of the soldiers who had dragged the bodies of the martyrs through the Jesuit study house at the University of Central America, in San Salvador, had knocked a book off the shelf in the study of Jon Sobrino, the only surviving member of the community because he was out of the country at the time of the massacre. The book, stained with the blood of one of the slain priests, Juan Moreno, and now under glass at the memorial, was El Dios Crucificado.

The reality of violence and cruelty demanded an answer. Moltmann writes about not being interested in the simple question how a good and loving God could allow such evil to happen; another question is far more essential: “Was God present in the inferno of those burning nights I remembered, or was he untouched by them, in the heaven of a complacent blessedness? Where is God?”

In his memoirs, he writes: “In these years my theological interest shifted from the resurrection of the crucified Christ, and the horizon of hope which it throws open, to the cross of the risen Christ and the spaces of remembrance of the experience of absolute death. The Crucified God was intended to be the other side of the ‘God of hope.’”

The statement that God was in Auschwitz, suffering and dying with the millions that perished there, whose lives are etched deeply into God’s own life, was bold at the time and remains so today.


MOLTMANN is a Protestant theologian, deeply rooted in the tradition of the Reformed Church, which he chose over the Lutheran tradition of his native Hamburg — not least because of the clearer stance of Reformed theologians such as Barth, in the Barmen Declaration, which voiced the Confessing Church’s opposition to Nazism.

But it is in his encounters with theologians from the wider Christian Church, in the ecumenical movement, that much of his theology was shaped.

Among his collaborators and friends are many Roman Catholics, most notably his fellow political theologian Johannes Baptist Metz, and his Tübingen colleague Hans Küng. For many years, Küng and he worked on the ecumenical section of the international periodical Concilium, the English edition of which is still published by the SCM Press.

By now, several generations of students have studied Moltmann’s books, most of them published in the US by Fortress Press, and in the UK by the SCM Press. Nearly all of them were translated into English by Margaret Kohl, who made a substantial contribution in her own right by enabling consistency of language and terminology.

As a theologian, this German professor is a citizen of the world, and yet Britain retains a special place in his life and in his heart. More than 70 years later, he still speaks warmly about the hospitality of the farmers of Kilmarnock.

There is his 1981 joint lecture with Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, “Becoming Human in a New Community of Women and Men”, presented at an ecumenical conference in Sheffield in 1981, and also one of the key moments of his life as a theologian, as well as his 1985 Gifford Lectures, published as God in Creation (SCM Press, 1985).

When asked by the chair of his Gore Lecture if there could ever be a good nationalism, he replied: “British nationalism”. In his view, it retained an innocence that his home country lost in the face of the atrocities of the Second World War and the Holocaust. Maybe this was the polite answer of a guest, although when I asked him about his impression of Britain today, he mentioned ever greater divides within society and the threat that the Union could break up. None the less, this guest has gained a firm place in the theological canon of his former captors, and his theology of hope still strikes a chord.


Dr Natalie K. Watson is a theologian and writer based in Peterborough. She studied with Jürgen Moltmann in Tübingen in the early 1990s, and was Senior Commissioning Editor of the SCM Press from 2007 to 2015.



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“Christ Church dean accused of mishandling child sexual assault case” – Cherwell – March 5 2020

“Christ Church Governing Body criticised for its attacks on the Dean” – Thinking Anglicans

Christ Church Governing Body criticised for its attacks on the Dean



Christ Church Oxford

Christ Church dean accused of mishandling child sexual assault case

Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, has been accused of failing to correctly report the sexual assault of a minor.

Percy, embroiled in a long dispute with his own college, has denied the allegations in a statement to The Guardian.

On the 4th March, a statement on Christ Church’s website was posted, entitled “Update on Safeguarding”. It read: “On 7 February 2020, we received a media enquiry regarding the two Employment Tribunal claims, which the Dean has lodged against Christ Church.”

“This included an allegation that a former student had been sexually assaulted during their time at Christ Church, whilst still a minor. Upon further investigation, it is apparent that this allegation was disclosed to the Dean, but never reported by him to the police, the local authority designated officer, Christ Church’s safeguarding officers, or the Church of England’s safeguarding officer.

“This allegation has now been reported to the police. Internal investigations have subsequently raised serious concerns about the Dean’s handling of four separate matters reported to him. All relate to allegations of sexual abuse or assault, two involving a minor. On legal advice, we have also made a report to the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Office, and they have opened an investigation.

“There is no implication whatsoever that the Dean himself has been involved in any form of sexual misconduct.

“Protecting our students, pupils, staff, and all those who live, work, or study at Christ Church is our highest priority. We are assisting the Church of England and the police in their enquiries, and we are putting in place measures to ensure that our safeguarding obligations continue to be met.

“Christ Church’s Governing Body is fully committed to safeguarding and has robust policies and processes in place. Our thoughts are with any survivors of abuse affected by this news. If anyone requires immediate support, they should contact Christ Church or the police.”

Speaking to Cherwell, the Dean issued the following statement: “The statement on the College website will give rise to unfortunate speculation. For the avoidance of doubt, the Dean dealt correctly with three historic cases of reported sexual assault in the Academic year ​​20​16-​17, and the information on these were shared with the appropriate college officers at the time. One of these individuals had already made a report to the police, which was already known ​to​the college officers concerned. A fourth historic disclosure was made by an individual who had never reported the matter to the police, and only agreed to talk about the ​alleged assault ​on the condition that there was no further disclosure. Their position of this individual has not changed. No person making a disclosure was still a minor – all were over 21.

“Three of the cases took place before 2014, prior to the Dean taking up office. None of alleged perpetrators posed a safeguarding risk. None of the alleged perpetrators was a current employee of Christ Church at the time of these disclosures.

“The Dean raised concerns that college officers in 2017, and who should have had responsibility for safeguarding​,​ did not ​in fact ​know this, and had not been properly trained. ​ ​The Dean raised this as a matter of concern with the three individuals with the most responsibility for the legal compliance of the college. (i.e. statutory, welfare, etc.).  The job descriptions for the relevant college officers were changed in January 2018 to take account of the concerns raised by the instigation of the Dean. The college and cathedral regularly review their safeguarding practice, and are compliant with their statutory obligations, and our safeguarding leads are all properly trained.

The Police made a statement on this matter some weeks ago (20-02-20). This is what they said to me in writing: “We received a third party report of a rape on 13 February this year relating to an alleged incident at Christchurch sometime between 2010 and 2017. However, the alleged victim has never reported such an incident to police, and as such there is no line of enquiry and no current investigation. Due to Home Office guidelines, we have recorded the offence as reported, but the matter has been filed.”

In addition, the Dean told The Guardian he had “dealt correctly with three historic cases of reported sexual assault in the academic year 2016-17, and the information on these were shared with the appropriate college officers at the time.

“A fourth historic disclosure was made by an individual who had never reported the matter to the police, and only agreed to talk about the alleged assault on the condition that there was no further disclosure. Their position has not changed.”

In a comprehensive response to the Dean’s statement, Christ Church issued the following rebuttal:

“1. “For the avoidance of doubt, the Dean dealt correctly with three historic cases of reported sexual assault in the aca­demic year 2016-17, and the infor­ma­tion on these were shared with the appropriate college officers at the time.”

The Dean has told Christ Church that four historic cases were reported to him in the calendar year of 2017. Christ Church’s Safeguarding Officers were not informed by the Dean at the time about three of these reports of sexual assault – nor was any other college officer.

“2. “One of these individuals had already made a report to the police, which was already known to the college officers concerned.”

No college officer was informed by the Dean about any police report at the time, with regard to any of these four disclosures.

“3. “A fourth historic disclosure was made by an individual who had never reported the matter to the police, and only agreed to talk about the alleged assault on the condition that there was no further disclosure. Their position of this individual has not changed.”

A fourth case was mentioned, regarding a former student, to a Safeguarding Officer, but with no indication that it involved an individual who was a minor at the time of the alleged assault.

“4. “No person making a disclosure was a minor — all were over 21.”

According to what the Dean has told us, two of the survivors were minors at the time of the alleged abuse/assault.

“5.  “Three of the cases took place before 2014, prior to the Dean taking up office.”

Four cases were disclosed to the Dean, according to his own account, in the calendar year of 2017.

“6. “None of alleged perpetrators posed a safeguarding risk.”

Apart from the Dean, we are not aware of anyone at Christ Church who has any information about any of the alleged perpetrators, and therefore we are unable to assess whether there is any safeguarding risk.

“7. “The Christ Church statement omits to note that the police have reported that no investigation is being pursued.”

Thames Valley Police has asked the Dean for more information with regard to the perpetrator of the recently-reported alleged assault against a minor. Christ Church is not aware that the Dean has responded to this request.

This is the latest instalment in the continuing clash between Martyn Percy and his colleagues. The origins of the dispute are contentious, with the Dean claiming a hostile response to this efforts to modernise the college. His opponents in the ongoing battle cite a request for a pay rise.

After a suspension in 2018, Martyn Percy was reinstated following an internal tribunal, in August of last year. His case will be heard in an Employment Tribunal in 2021.

  • IICSA Transcript – Day 1 – Monday – July 23 2018 – Fiona Scolding QC


    Page 90

    MR GIFFIN: Chair, members of the panel, the Archbishops’ Council is grateful for this opportunity to make some brief opening remarks….In 2015, after Ball, as you have heard, pleaded guilty to offences and was sentenced for them, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, wrote to individuals known to have been abused by Ball to offer his apologies and the church made a public statement, including these words, which bear repeating. Shall I pause?

    FIONA SCOLDING QC: I’m terribly sorry. I don’t know what is
    going on. I will ask Mr Fulbrook to go and see if
    whatever is happening can be desisted from immediately.
    MR GIFFIN: Shall I continue, chair? I will, if I may,
    repeat my previous words….

    Page 171 & 172

    REVD GRAHAM SAWYER: Let me make this very clear. The sexual abuse that was
    perpetrated upon me by Bishop Peter Ball pales into
    insignificance when compared to the enduringly cruel and
    sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by
    officials, both lay and ordained, in the
    Church of England, and I know from the testimony of
    other people who have got in touch with me over the last
    five or ten years that what I have experienced is not
    dissimilar to the experience of so many others, and
    I use those words “cruel and sadistic”, because I think
    that’s how they behave.

    FIONA SCOLDING QC: How much of that do you attribute to the lingering
    effect, shall we say, of Peter Ball, because the events
    you describe sort of postdated Peter Ball’s caution and

    REVD GRAHAM SAWYER: Well, there’s an expression used in Australia to refer
    to the bench of bishops, they don’t refer to the bench
    of bishops, but they refer to the “purple circle”,
    and the purple circle exists pretty much in every national
    church within Anglicanism. It no doubt exists in other
    episcopally-led churches. They support one another in
    a sort of club-like way.
    If anyone attacks one of them, they will, as
    a group, as a sort of collective conscience and in
    action, seek to destroy the person who is making
    complaints about one individual.
    Now, don’t take my testimony alone from this. There
    is former — in fact, the recently retired bishop of
    Newcastle in NSW, Australia, who was a victim of sexual
    abuse there, and he described his treatment — he said
    it is like an ecclesiastical protection racket. That is
    the culture within Anglicanism and no doubt within other
    episcopally-led church. It is an ecclesiastical
    protection racket, and anyone who seeks in any way to
    threaten the reputation of the church as an institution
    has to be destroyed. That is the primary thing, and
    that is the culture within Anglicanism.


  • March 12 2020 – From The Archives [July 24 2019 – Luther Pendragon – “‘Professional Bullies’ and the Church of England” – ‘The Bell Society’ – Richard W. Symonds]



    March 13 2020 – From The Archives [July 23 2108 – Transcript – Day 1 – Monday – July 23 2018]

    • Excerpts – Fiona Scolding QC
    • This case study will seek answers to the following
      (1) why did Bishop Peter Ball escape detection as an
      abuser, despite, as it has now emerged, the fact that he
      made sexual advances to a significant number of young
      men who came within his ambit of influence?
      (2) how did the church permit him to run a scheme
      25 where young people came to stay with him for extended
      periods of time in his home without any supervision or
      oversight and without any real sense of what was
      happening or who was there over a more than ten-year
      period whilst he was a suffragan bishop?
      (3) why was he given a caution, rather than
      prosecuted, for the offending that the police
      investigated in 1992/1993 in respect of Neil Todd and
      others? Why were other complaints brought at that time
      not prosecuted or subject to any form of disposal at
      that time?
      (4) why was Peter Ball represented by a lawyer
      during the criminal proceedings in 1992 who was also the
      diocesan registrar, that is, an official lawyer for the
      diocese in religious matters? This individual discussed
      the case and Peter Ball’s defence with various senior
      members of the church during the course of
      the investigation. Why was this potential conflict of
      interest not identified or acted upon?
      (5) was it wrong for the church to become involved
      in seeking to defend Peter Ball by employing a private
      detective on his behalf?
      (6) were the church, police or prosecution put under
      undue and improper pressure by individuals who held
      positions of power and influence within society to try
      and quash the criminal allegations made against
      Peter Ball and return him to ministry?
      (7) should a caution ever have been administered?
      (8) why was he not subject to any disciplinary
      action by the church until 2015? Were the disciplinary
      powers of the church at the time in question, 1992
      through to 2015, fit for purpose to manage the sorts of
      allegations that this case study raises? Why, given the
      frustrations expressed by senior individuals within
      Lambeth Palace about Peter Ball’s lack of insight into
      his own offending behaviour was no risk assessment
      process undertaken of him until 2009?
      (9) why was he allowed to return to public ministry
      and even granted permission to visit schools and
      undertake confirmations in the light of what was known
      about his offending behaviour within the church at the
      (10) why didn’t the church refer letters received
      from various individuals which made allegations similar
      to those that Neil Todd had made to the police
      in December 1992 and why in fact did it take until 2010
      for the majority of those letters to be passed to the
      (11) was the internal investigation conducted by the
      Church of England in 1992/1993 adequate?
      (12) why did the prosecution decide to accept the
      guilty pleas entered into by Peter Ball in 2015 and why
      were other offences not pursued to trial?
      (13) would the church approach a similar matter
      concerning a senior member of its ranks in a like manner
      today and, if not, what steps have been nut in place to
      create a consistent approach to dealing with such
      (14) what steps does the church, police, Crown
      Prosecution Service and society need to undertake to
      overcome the problems that this case study may
      We have sought and obtained evidence from Peter Ball
      himself. He has provided two witness statements to the
      inquiry. We have received medical evidence that he is
      too unwell to give us evidence either in person or by
      way of videolink. Both his witness statements will be
      placed upon the website. He has provided an apology in
      the second of those witness statements and has
      identified that he has neither been open nor shown
      penitence in the past. He also identifies that
      previously he has not had the courage to be forthright
      about his sexuality that maybe he should have had…….

    Page 90

    MR GIFFIN: Chair, members of the panel, the
    Archbishops’ Council is grateful for this opportunity to
    make some brief opening remarks. The inquiry of course
    heard longer submissions from us at the start and finish
    of the Chichester case study, and we also filed detailed
    written submissions at the close of the Chichester
    hearings, and all of those are publicly available and
    I needn’t repeat any of the detail of them now.
    Rather, I shall confine myself to three matters.
    The first and foremost is to say, clearly, that the
    church is sorry and ashamed. At the Chichester
    hearings, the Archbishops’ Council offered an
    unqualified apology to those vulnerable people, children
    and others, whose lives have been damaged by abuse, and
    who were not cared for and protected by the church as
    they should have been. We repeat that apology now,
    specifically to those who suffered abuse at the hands of
    Peter Ball, and the families and others who have been
    affected by that abuse.
    In 2015, after Ball, as you have heard, pleadedguilty to offences and was sentenced for them, the
    Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, wrote to
    individuals known to have been abused by Ball to offer
    his apologies and the church made a public statement,
    including these words, which bear repeating. Shall
    I pause?
    MS SCOLDING: I’m terribly sorry. I don’t know what is
    going on. I will ask Mr Fulbrook to go and see if
    whatever is happening can be desisted from immediately.
    MR GIFFIN: Shall I continue, chair? I will, if I may,
    repeat my previous words….

    Page 99

    Mr Bourne

    Now, this does not excuse the error of not passing
    on the letters, but the inquiry will see that the police
    back then had abundant evidence of a wider picture of
    Peter Ball’s abusive activity and the inquiry can be
    reassured that the addition of one further allegation
    would not have altered that picture in any significant
    25 way.
    My second comment on Dame Moira’s report is that, on
    three key points, it will benefit from some
    clarification. Unfortunately, those key points have
    attracted as much attention as anything else in the
    report. They are the references to collusion, cover-up
    and deliberate concealment.
    In fairness to Dame Moira, her report is actually
    expressed in very measured terms; so measured, in fact,
    that any conclusions drawn about collusion, cover-up or
    deliberate concealment are not easy to pin down. The
    problem, however, is that the report’s use of those
    words has already had serious consequences, and that’s
    not surprising because there is a crucial difference
    between mistakes, however blameworthy, and
    conspiratorial acts carried out for a guilty purpose.
    We have no doubt that this inquiry will wish to
    distinguish carefully between those two things.
    There are, therefore, questions for Dame Moira Gibb
    about those specific areas. All I will add now in
    opening is that Lord Carey’s hope is that this week’s
    hearing will make some important matters clearer for
    everyone. The clearest possible understanding is, of
    course, for the benefit of all of the public and
    especially for victims and survivors.
    Chair, thank you…….

    Reverend Graham Sawyer

    Page 171/172

    A. Let me make this very clear. The sexual abuse that was
    perpetrated upon me by Bishop Peter Ball pales into
    insignificance when compared to the enduringly cruel and
    sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by
    officials, both lay and ordained, in the
    Church of England, and I know from the testimony of
    other people who have got in touch with me over the last
    five or ten years that what I have experienced is not
    dissimilar to the experience of so many others, and
    I use those words “cruel and sadistic”, because I think
    that’s how they behave.

    Q. How much of that do you attribute to the lingering
    effect, shall we say, of Peter Ball, because the events
    you describe sort of postdated Peter Ball’s caution and

    A. Well, there’s an expression used in Australia to refer
    to the bench of bishops, they don’t refer to the bench
    of bishops, but they refer to the “purple circle”, and the purple circle exists pretty much in every national
    church within Anglicanism. It no doubt exists in other
    episcopally-led churches. They support one another in
    a sort of club-like way.
    If anyone attacks one of them, they will, as
    a group, as a sort of collective conscience and in
    action, seek to destroy the person who is making
    complaints about one individual.
    Now, don’t take my testimony alone from this. There
    is former — in fact, the recently retired bishop of
    Newcastle in NSW, Australia, who was a victim of sexual
    abuse there, and he described his treatment — he said
    it is like an ecclesiastical protection racket. That is
    the culture within Anglicanism and no doubt within other
    episcopally-led church. It is an ecclesiastical
    protection racket, and anyone who seeks in any way to
    threaten the reputation of the church as an institution
    has to be destroyed. That is the primary thing, and
    that is the culture within Anglicanism.


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Feb 28 2020 – Jimmy Savile and the Royals



Replying to


And Buckingham Palace remained silent as the Church of England – whose Supreme Head is Her Majesty The Queen – continued to trash the name of its great wartime Bishop of Chichester, George Bell – despite two legal rulings clearing him of a posthumous paedophilia accusation.

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So the Archbishops of Canterbury and York “have issued a rare joint apology” for the Church of England’s misguided declaration that those in civil partnerships should not have sex. (“Archbishops ‘very sorry’ for sex advice”, Jan 31).  This, they now acknowledge, “has jeopardised trust” among the general public.

Apologies from clergy, especially senior ones, are rare indeed in my experience.

The Archbishops have one further apology to make while they are in the mood – to admirers and relatives of Bishop George Bell of Chichester (died 1958).  The saintly bishop was accused a few years ago of paedophilia on extremely uncertain grounds given his previously entirely blameless reputation.  Against all reason Archbishop Welby still considers Bell to be ‘under a cloud’.  This unjustified slur has been long overdue for removal, and the present moment would be a good time to achieve that.

Tim Hudson

West Sussex,

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Dear Editor

Following the 75th Anniversary of the Dresden bombing, we must remember that the wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell was outspoken in his opposition to the Obliteration Policy of German cities.

Lord Bishop Bell, who was anti-Nazi but not anti-German, questioned the morality of bombing civilians. Most of his fellow Bishops in the House of Lords did not openly support him, and his moral stand in what he believed to be right made him few friends, especially in the higher echelons of power.

But this brave Bishop, who was considered a future Archbishop, was revered by many. George Bell House, at the Cathedral’s 4 Canon Lane was dedicated in his honour – and there is a ‘Dresden Room’ within that building. 

Shameful, but discredited, attempts have been made to tarnish his reputation in recent times. Official apology has not been forthcoming.

Bishop Bell’s courage, bravery and integrity must not be forgotten

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society




By John D. Alexander

On February 4, 1944, a prominent Anglican bishop addressed Britain’s House of Lords. He deplored the devastation wrought by the Royal Air Force (RAF) in nighttime raids on dozens of German cities: Lübeck, Rostock, Cologne, Hamburg, and Berlin, among others.  His name was George Kennedy Allen Bell of Chichester.

Bishop Bell warned that not just military and industrial targets, but museums, libraries, churches, hospitals, schools, and architectural monuments were being destroyed indiscriminately along with residential areas. While apartment blocks could be rebuilt, cultural treasures were being lost forever that would be needed for the Germans’ cultural renewal after the war.

He mentioned cities that had not yet been bombed: “Dresden, Augsburg, Munich are among the larger towns….” He hoped that RAF Bomber Command would restrict future attacks to the military installations and arms factories generally situated in such cities’ outskirts, while avoiding town centers full of cultural monuments.

Biblical scholars remind us that “prophecy” involves much more than just foretelling the future. But Bell was speaking prophetically at multiple levels. All the cities he mentioned were eventually subject to devastating air raids before war’s end. Dresden’s bombing, in a series of attacks on February 13-15, 1945, has become infamous.

Bell was neither a pacifist nor a sentimentalist. He had been a committed anti-Nazi since the early 1930s. He fully supported the Allied war against Hitler even as his extensive ecumenical friendships with Germans such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer made him draw a crucial distinction between the Nazi regime and the German people.

Nor was Bell militarily naïve. In preparing his speech he relied on the advice and assistance of his friend Captain B. F. Liddell Hart, the noted military historian and strategist. Bell accepted the necessity of air raids on Germany, provided that they were directed at targets like military bases, airfields, arms factories, railroad yards, naval docks, radio stations, radar installations, and oil refineries.

However, in 1942, responding to effective German air defenses and limitations in navigation and targeting technology, Bomber Command adopted a policy of “area” or “obliteration” bombing. Instead of aiming at specific targets, the strategy was to mass as many bombers as possible over an urban area by night and to drop as many bombs as possible. The hope was that at least some assets of military, industrial, or administrative significance would be engulfed in the general devastation below. The violence was indiscriminate. In each raid, vast residential areas were destroyed, and thousands of civilians were killed.

Bell understood that this policy violated the Christian just war tradition’s jus in bello norms of discrimination, noncombatant immunity, and proportionality. He granted that unintended civilian casualties were inescapable in necessary raids against military targets. But the sheer extent of noncombatant suffering and death caused by area bombing was entirely out of proportion.

“I fully realize,” Bell declared, “that in attacks on centers of war industry and transport the killing of civilians when it is the result of bona-fide military activity is inevitable. But there must be a fair balance between the means employed and the purpose achieved. To obliterate a whole town because certain portions contain military and industrial establishments is to reject the balance.”

By early 1944, technological innovations and Allied air supremacy could have made a switch to “precision bombing” feasible. But under Sir Arthur (“Bomber”) Harris’ obstinate leadership, the RAF continued area bombing through the war’s end. Bell’s speech had not the slightest effect on military policy. But some suggest it cost him any prospect of becoming Archbishop of Canterbury when William Temple died suddenly eight months later.

The speech’s real value lay in putting a statement of prophetic Christian witness on record. Future generations could look back to see a clear voice of conscience raised to protest this immoral strategy.

The bombing’s 75th anniversary raises the question of why the name “Dresden” has taken on iconic significance. Using the same strategy, Bomber Command undertook similar attacks over a four-year period against dozens and dozens of enemy cities.

True, the Dresden raid was horrific. Swollen with refugees fleeing advancing Soviet armies on the Eastern Front 80 miles away, the city was largely undefended, with inadequate air-raid shelters. The RAF’s aiming point was the town center, where the ancient timbers of medieval buildings quickly caught fire when pummeled by high-explosive “blockbuster” bombs and a rain of incendiary devices. The resulting firestorm killed an estimated 25,000 civilians.

It was, however, neither the first, last, nor deadliest raid of the war. The British bombing of Hamburg on July 27, 1943 caused a similar firestorm, killing about 42,000 civilians. Less than a month after Dresden, the American firebombing of Tokyo (March 9, 1945), killed about 100,000 and left over a million homeless. It was the single most destructive bombing raid in human history. Then came the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

What may be special about Dresden, however, is that it was the first city whose destruction awakened significant numbers of consciences on the Allied side. The Nazi propaganda machine disseminated hundreds of photographs documenting the carnage, which soon appeared in British and American newspapers.

Public revulsion ensued, heightened by Dresden’s cultural significance as home to a vast collection of artistic treasures, and led to widespread questioning of the city bombing. Bishop Bell’s House of Lords speech of a year earlier may have sown seeds of conscientious doubt that began to blossom.

The questioning reached the highest levels of government. In a memo of March 28, 1945, Prime Minister Winston Churchill wrote: “It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall come into possession of an utterly ruined land. … The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing.” After vehement RAF objections to the word “terror” as the bombing’s objective, Churchill removed the offending phrase in a revised draft. By then, however, the point was moot with the European war almost over.

Historians and ethicists continue to debate whether the Dresden raid was militarily and morally justified. Some defend it as a legitimate attack against a vital center of administration, communications, transportation, and industry crucial to the enemy’s efforts to resupply the Eastern Front. Others condemn it as a moral outrage that killed tens of thousands of civilians for negligible military gains.

In the years since, the Dresden bombing has become something of a political football. Until 1989, the city was located in Communist East Germany, whose government pointed to the city’s destruction as an instance of Anglo-American terrorism. Since German reunification, far-right and neo-Nazi groups have appropriated that rhetoric, using the controversial and offensive term Bombenholocaust (holocaust by bombing) to describe the conflagration. At the opposite end of the political spectrum, German Antifa groups annually celebrate Bomber Harris for killing hundreds of thousands of Germans that they regard as complicit in Nazi crimes.

In today’s polarized political discourse, the memory of Dresden all too easily becomes a symbol and catalyst of division. A more hopeful and ultimately Christian approach looks instead to its potential as a signpost of reconciliation.

One of the most beautiful buildings destroyed in the Dresden firestorm was the baroque Frauenkirche — the Lutheran Church of Our Lady. For 60 years following 1945, its ruins stood in silent witness to the war’s devastation. But in 2005 it was painstakingly reconstructed and returned to service as a home for a worshiping community.

The gold orb and cross on the church’s dome were forged by Alan Smith, a London goldsmith whose father participated in the RAF raid on Dresden. On the main altar stands a cross of nails given by Coventry Cathedral in England — itself destroyed by the Luftwaffe on November 14, 1940 and rebuilt after the war. In the past 15 years, the Dresden Frauenkirche has become a center of worldwide ecumenical pilgrimage, hosting, among others, Catholic groups from neighboring Czech Republic and Poland, early victims of German wartime aggression.

Such symbolic gestures of repentance, reconciliation, and forgiveness testify to shared hope for a future free from such mass atrocities. In a world where war itself is unlikely to be abolished anytime soon, the urgent work continues of trying to limit noncombatant suffering and death as far as possible. Bishop Bell would approve.

The Rev. John D. Alexander, a priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, is writing a book on the Church of England in the Second World War.

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“Dresden: The World War Two bombing 75 years on” – BBC News [Toby Luckhurst]


Dresden: The World War Two bombing 75 years on

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Dresden after the bombing, as seen from the top of the town hallImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
The bombing of Dresden created a firestorm that destroyed the centre of the city

“The firestorm is incredible… Insane fear grips me and from then on I repeat one simple sentence to myself continuously: ‘I don’t want to burn to death’. I do not know how many people I fell over. I know only one thing: that I must not burn.”

On 13 February 1945, British aircraft launched an attack on the eastern German city of Dresden. In the days that followed, they and their US allies would drop nearly 4,000 tons of bombs in the assault.

The ensuing firestorm killed 25,000 people, ravaging the city centre, sucking the oxygen from the air and suffocating people trying to escape the flames.

Dresden was not unique. Allied bombers killed tens of thousands and destroyed large areas with attacks on Cologne, Hamburg and Berlin, and the Japanese cities of Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

But the bombing has become one of the most controversial Allied acts of World War Two. Some have questioned the military value of Dresden. Even British Prime Minister Winston Churchill expressed doubts immediately after the attack.

“It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed,” he wrote in a memo.

“The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing.”

This story contains graphic images.

Short presentational grey line

Dresden is the capital of the state of Saxony. Before the bombing it was referred to as the Florence on the Elbe or the Jewel Box, for its climate and its architecture.

Image of Dresden from 1900Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
A colour image of Dresden from 1900, showing a number of monuments which were later heavily damaged in the bombing

By February 1945, Dresden was only about 250km (155 miles) from the Eastern Front, where Nazi Germany was defending against the advancing armies of the Soviet Union in the final months of the war.

The city was a major industrial and transportation hub. Scores of factories provided munitions, aircraft parts and other supplies for the Nazi war effort. Troops, tanks and artillery travelled through Dresden by train and by road. Hundreds of thousands of German refugees fleeing the fighting had also arrived in the city.

At the time, the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) said it was the largest German city yet to be bombed. Air chiefs decided an attack on Dresden could help their Soviet allies – by stopping Nazi troop movements but also by disrupting the German evacuations from the east.

An RAF bomber over Hamburg, 1943Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
RAF bombers dropped incendiary bombs as well as explosive weapons on German cities to maximise damage

RAF bomber raids on German cities had increased in size and power after more than five years of war.

Planes carried a mix of high explosive and incendiary bombs: the explosives would blast buildings apart, while the incendiaries would set the remains on fire, causing further destruction.

Previous attacks had annihilated entire German cities. In July 1943, hundreds of RAF bombers took part in a mission against Hamburg, named Operation Gomorrah. The resulting assault and unusually dry and hot weather caused a firestorm – a blaze so great it creates its own weather system, sucking winds in to feed the flames – which destroyed almost the whole city.

Dresden after the bombing in 1945Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Most of Dresden was destroyed after the British and US attack

The attack on Dresden began on 13 February 1945. Close to 800 RAF aircraft – led by pathfinders, who dropped flares marking out the bombing area centred on the Ostragehege sports stadium – flew to Dresden that night. In the space of just 25 minutes, British planes dropped more than 1,800 tons of bombs.

As was common practice during the war, US aircraft followed up the attack with day-time raids. More than 520 USAAF bombers flew to Dresden over two days, aiming for the city’s railway marshalling yards but in reality hitting a large area across the city.

Bodies lie in the streets after the attack on DresdenImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Tens of thousands died, many suffocated in the firestorm
Dresden after the bombing in 1945Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Major landmarks in the city were gutted

On the ground, civilians cowered under the onslaught. Many had fled to shelters after air raid sirens warned of the incoming bombers.

But the first wave of aircraft knocked out the electricity. Some came out of hiding just as the second wave arrived above the city.

People fell dead as they ran from the flames, the air sucked from their lungs by the fire storm. Eyewitness Margaret Freyer described a woman with her baby: “She runs, she falls, and the child flies in an arc into the fire… The woman remains lying on the ground, completely still”.

Kurt Vonnegut survived the bombing as a prisoner of war in Dresden.

“Dresden was one big flame. The one flame ate everything organic, everything that would burn,” he wrote in his work Slaughterhouse-Five.

He described the city after the attack as “like the moon now, nothing but minerals. The stones were hot. Everybody else in the neighbourhood was dead.”

In total, the British lost six bombers in the attack, three to planes accidentally hitting each other with bombs. The US lost one.

People taking a tram in Dresden amid the wreckage, 1946Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
The city was a wreck for years afterwards, as seen here, when city dwellers take trams through the ruins in 1946
A shot of Dresden in 1946 showing the effect of the bombingImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
It took years to clean up the damage
Dresden castle photographed in East Germany in 1969Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Many parts of Dresden remained as ruins throughout its time as part of East Germany

Nazi Germany immediately used the bombing to attack the Allies. The Propaganda Ministry claimed Dresden had no war industry and was only a city of culture. Though local officials said about 25,000 people had died – a figure historians agree with now – the Nazis claimed 200,000 civilians were killed.

In the UK, Dresden was known as a tourist destination, and some MPs and public figures questioned the value of the attack. A story at the time published by the Associated Press news agency said the Allies were conducting terror bombing, spreading further alarm.

US and UK military planners, however, insisted the attack was strategically justified, in the same way as attacks on other cities – by disrupting industry, destroying workers’ homes and crippling transport in Germany.

A crane lifts a cupola on top of Dresden cathedral in 2004Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Dresden’s Frauenkirche was rebuilt with the help of donations from the UK and the US after serving as a war memorial for decades
Dresden in 2015, largely recovered after the warImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionDresden has recovered since the war, although it still bears the scars

A 1953 US report on the bombing concluded that the attack destroyed or severely damaged 23% of the city’s industrial buildings, and at least 50% of its residential buildings. But Dresden was “a legitimate military target”, the report said, and the attack was no different “from established bombing policies”.

The debate about the Allied bombing campaign, and about the attack on Dresden, continues to this day. Historians question if destruction of German cities hindered the Nazi war effort, or simply caused civilian deaths – especially towards the end of the conflict. Unlike an invasion like D-Day, it is harder to quantify how much these attacks helped win the war.

Some argue it is a moral failing for the Allies, or even a war crime. But defenders say it was a necessary part of the total war to defeat Nazi Germany.

It has even become a symbol for conspiracy theorists and some far-right activists – including Holocaust deniers and extremist parties – who have quoted Nazi casualty figures as fact and have commemorated the bombing.

Seventy-five years later, the bombing of Dresden remains a controversial act.

Media caption The 100-year-old survivor of Dresden tells BBC Newsday of the ‘stupidity of war’


More on this story

  • When the UK was bombed nightly for eight months in a row
    10 July 2015
  • World War II bombs ‘felt in space’
    26 September 2018
  • UK World War Two bombing sites revealed in online map
    16 October 2019
  • The Coventry Blitz: ‘Hysteria, terror and neurosis’
    13 November 2015
  • Yalta: World War Two summit that reshaped the world
    4 February 2020
  • Video UK WW2 Veteran says Dresden bombings were a ‘war crime’
    11 February 2019



    The troubling question of the bombing of Dresden is raised in your columns by Sinclair McKay and A.N. Wilson under the heading ‘Was the Bombing of Dresden a War Crime?’ (The Spectator, 8 February 2020, pp.20-22). It is written with the luxury of knowing that Nazi Germany was defeated in 1939-1945, a knowledge denied to those with the awesome responsibility of winning the war. In many respects the contributions are self-indulgent and imbued with an arrogant sense of moral and even aesthetic superiority.

    How to defeat Nazi German in 1939-1945 (no simple task)? Germany did not surrender after the liberation of Paris on 25 August 1944, although a civilised nation might have done so. 
    Sadly Arnhem (17-26 September 1944) was a tragic failure, leaving Holland to the cruelty of German occupation throughout the winter of 1944-1945. Probably Boy Browning (Eton) was as much to blame for this failure as anyone else, but the British blamed the Poles under Sosabowski, who indeed wanted to fight on once Operation Market Garden had been undertaken. 
    So far from surrendering the Germans invaded the Ardennes on 16 December 1944  to 25 January 1945 and in defeating them the Americans lost some 85,000 men. No small price to pay. I remain loath to criticise those who fought and won the war even in the wake of Arnhem. And, as if the Poles had not suffered enough, thanks to continuing German resistance the Soviet offensive in Poland was launched on 12 January 1945.
    I have greater admiration for George Bell, Bishop of Chichester (1929-1958), for he opposed area bombing in the midst of the war when it took great moral courage to do so. Unsurprisingly his words of wisdom were not heeded at that time. Since then his reputation has been trashed by the present Archbishop of Canterbury (yet another Old Etonian).
    And what lessons have we drawn about the bombing of civilian populations since 1945? In March 2003 the messianic Tony Blair, supported by countless Labour and Tory MPs (including Theresa May) unleashed with the Americans a bombing campaign on Iraq. 
    In the 1960s Harold Wilson and the Labour Party expelled the Chagos Islanders from their home in the Indian Ocean to make way for an American bombing base at Diego Garcia.
    How easy it is to convict Sir Arthur Harris and Mr Winston Churchill of war crimes  in their absence. 
    Perhaps we can at least restore the reputation of the Bishop of Chichester by according him the presumption of innocence.
    Kind regards,
    Gerald Morgan, FTCD (Leader: English Parliamentary Party, 2001)


    Dr Gerald Morgan, FTCD (1993)
    Lydbrook School (1946-1953),
    Monmouth School (1953-1961),
    Meyricke Exhibitioner, Jesus College, Oxford (1961-1964),
    D.Phil. (Oxon.), 1973
    Director:The Chaucer Hub.
    Tel.: 086 456 56 60

    The Revd Dr Barry A. Orford



    The Editor

    The Daily Telegraph


    SW1W 0DT

    February 13th, 2020


    The article by Sinclair McKay (February 13th) on the 1945 bombing of Dresden was timely and welcome. What a pity, though, that he did not mention the most prominent wartime challenge to the British policy of Obliteration Bombing, which came from Bishop George Bell of Chichester.

    In 1944, when Hamburg had been devastated the previous year and Dresden was still to suffer, Bishop Bell, a fervent anti-Nazi, questioned in the House of Lords the morality of such bombing of targets which were not primarily military. Few of his fellow bishops supported him, and he earned himself both widespread abuse but also agreement. The bravery of his stand is undeniable.

    Recently, there have been shameful (and now discredited) attempts in Bell’s diocese to tarnish his reputation. Since an apology for this behaviour is still not forthcoming, it is more than ever necessary that we are reminded of George Bell’s courage and integrity, both in wartime and beyond it.

    Barry A. Orford

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“Exposed: The Church’s Darkest Secret” – BBC 2 – 9pm to 10pm – Monday Jan 13 and Tuesday Jan 14 2020


Exposed: The Church’s Darkest Secret

Exposed: The Church's Darkest Secret

Today 9pm – 10pm BBC Two


by David Butcher

A two-part documentary explores a scandal in the Church of England that reaches back decades. In 2015 the former bishop of Gloucester, Peter Ball, received a three-year prison sentence after admitting to the sexual abuse of 18 young men, aged 17 to 25. “For him, religion was a cloak behind which he hid in order to satisfy his sexual interest in those who trusted him,” said the prosecuting QC at his trial.

But reports of Ball’s abuse had surfaced much earlier, in 1993, when he was cautioned by police. So how did a known abuser, a friend to Prince Charles and other establishment figures, escape justice and continue to work as a priest for so long? Concludes tomorrow.


Part one of two. The story of the decades-long pursuit of former bishop Peter Ball by those brave individuals determined to bring him to justice for sexual abuse, and the cover-up that went to the highest levels of the Church of England. Using powerful testimony from victims, police and church officials, and dramatic reconstruction, this programme charts the story of those who fought for many years to bring a prosecution against Ball.


Director Ben Steele
Executive Producer Darren Kemp
Producer Esther McWatters









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Dec 20 2019 – Andrew Brown on Archbishop Welby – Church Times


Archbishop Justin Welby

An extract from Andrew Brown’s column in the Church Times 20 December 2019 about Archbishop Welby:

‘…But then he was asked about Prince Andrew — and this was after the Maitlis interview. Although he tried to avoid particulars, he did say: “I am not commenting on any member of the royal family except to say that I am astonished at what a gift they are to this country.

“They do serve in a way that is extraordinary in what is literally, for them, a life sentence. I think to ask that they be superhuman saints is not what we should do because nobody is like that. Everybody makes mistakes, everybody is human.”

This is remarkably tone deaf, even if mostly true. Obviously you could defend most other members of the Royal Family in those terms, but not Andrew, who, if he has been a gift to any country, has been one only to places like Kazakhstan.

Nor is it the way in which the Archbishop reacted to the apparently much less credible allegations about Bishop George Bell.

The Mail made it a front-page splash, under the headline “Welby: don’t expect royals to be saints”.

I think that this was one of the rare moments in which Archbishop Welby’s poshness and instinctive sympathy for the people among whom he grew up really handicaps him for the job. One of the things that the clergy and the monarchy have in common is the experience of a sense of duty, or of calling. It makes for a bond of sympathy which must be inexplicable if you haven’t ever felt it yourself. This is a culture that takes self-invention for granted, and is hostile to the idea that you don’t have any real choice about how you are, only how well you are going to be that person.

So, it’s easy to forget just how inexplicable the concept of service seems when summoned to the defence of someone such as Prince Andrew, who appeared to have few royal duties to fulfil, and now has none. Still, like every other row in the papers, it will all be over by Christmas.

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Jan 24 2019 – “Archbishop of Canterbury apologises ‘unreservedly’ for Church of England’s ‘mistakes’ in handling Bishop Bell allegations” – Daily Telegraph – Robert Mendick


Archbishop of Canterbury apologises ‘unreservedly’ for CoE’s ‘mistakes’ in handling Bishop Bell allegations

Archbishop of Canterbury (pictured) apologises 'unreservedly' for CoE's 'mistakes' in handling Bishop Bell allegations

The Archbishop of Canterbury was accused yesterday of persisting with a “malign” attack on Bishop George Bell after he refused to exonerate him following a “copycat” allegation of historic child sex abuse.

An official report published yesterday concluded that a 70-year-old allegation against Bishop Bell was unfounded. It found that the evidence of the complainant – a woman named only as “Alison” – was “unreliable” and “inconsistent”.

Alison had written to the Church of England, claiming she had been sexually assaulted by the bishop in 1949 when she was aged nine.

The letter was sent a week after the Church of England was found to have wrongly besmirched Bishop Bell in its handling of a previous complaint brought by a woman known only as “Carol”.

The latest report suggested that Carol’s allegation had “prompted a false recollection in Alison’s mind”.

Yesterday, the Most Rev Justin Welby “apologised unreservedly for the mistakes” in the handling of the complaint made by Carol. But he declined to publicly clear the former Bishop of Chichester of any wrongdoing or retract a statement that he had a “significant cloud … over his name” and that he had been accused of “great wickedness”.

In a private letter, however, sent to Bishop Bell’s closest surviving relative, his niece Barbara Whitley, he wrote: “Once again I offer my sincerest apologies both personally and on behalf of the Church. We did wrong to you and before God.”

Bishop Bell, one of the towering figures of the Church in the 20th century, has been unable to defend himself, having died in 1958. But his supporters urged the Church to restore his reputation after two reports exonerated him.

Ms Whitley, 94, said yesterday: “I would like to see my uncle’s name cleared before I die.”

Desmond Browne QC, a leading barrister who acted for the bishop’s family and who was christened by him in 1949, said: “What is now clear is that the investigations by two experienced lawyers [have established] George Bell’s innocence. But not once [has] the Archbishop of Canterbury offered Bell the presumption of innocence.”

Alison had alleged that Bell, the former bishop of Chichester, had sat her on his lap and “fondled her”.

But the report by Timothy Briden, an ecclesiastical lawyer and vicar general of Canterbury, concluded that in her oral evidence “her attempts to repeat what had been written in the letter displayed, however, a disturbing degree of inconsistency”.

Alison had alleged in the letter the abuse had taken place indoors in front of her mother but in oral testimony thought she had been assaulted outdoors. He concluded that her claim was “unfounded”.

The existence of Alison’s complaint made in December 2017 was made public by the Church of England at a time when it was facing increasing criticism for its handling of the earlier allegation by Carol. Alison’s claim was passed in January 2018 to police, who then dropped the case.


Bishop George Bell

Mr Briden also investigated a separate complaint made by an 80-year-old witness – known only as K in the report – that his mother had told him that she had seen Bishop Bell “carrying out a sexual act with a man over his Rolls-Royce” in 1967. 

Bishop Bell died in 1958 and did not have a Rolls-Royce. The report said: “The longer that the statement from K’s mother is analysed, the more implausible it appears.”

Lord Carlile, the QC who carried out the damning inquiry into the handling of Carol’s claim, was scathing of the Church of England’s decision to make public the police inquiry into Alison’s complaint.

Lord Carlile said: “I am astonished that the Church [made] public the further complaint against Bishop Bell and the error has been proved by the conclusion of this latest inquiry.”

Prof Andrew Chandler, Bishop Bell’s biographer and spokesman for the George Bell Group, said “the claim by Alison appeared a copycat of Carol’s complaint”. Carol was paid £15,000 compensation in a legal settlement in October 2015.

In his statement yesterday, Archbishop Welby described Bishop Bell as a “remarkable role model”, adding: “I apologise unreservedly for the mistakes made in the process surrounding the handling of the original allegation against Bishop George Bell.” 

But he went on: “It is still the case that there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation … and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet.”

The current Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, also declined yesterday to exonerate his predecessor. But he accepted that a public statement he made signifying Bishop Bell’s guilt and released in 2015 after Carol’s claim was settled was probably now an error. 

“Knowing what we now do [we] would want to re-examine that and I don’t think we would [make that statement].”

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Dec 22 2019 – “Church Safeguarding – Not a prayer” – Private Eye

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Church House Westminster


Update on Safe Spaces following media report

The Church of England issued the press release below today. It appears to be in response to an article in Private Eye which was tweeted here yesterday.

Update on Safe Spaces following media report

A spokesperson for the National Safeguarding Team said: “Safe Spaces is planned as a vital support service for survivors of church-related abuse across the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

“The delay in progressing the support service, first officially discussed in 2014, is a matter of regret which the Church of England acknowledges and apologises for. But since the appointment of a project manager and the creation of the Safe Spaces Management Board last year eight survivor representatives from across both Churches are involved in ensuring we find the right organisation to deliver the project.

“Their knowledge, skill and personal experience in shaping the model for Safe Spaces alongside their commitment and support for the procurement process is integral to finding the right organisation to deliver the project.

“All grant money from both churches and ATL has been ring fenced for the project and no money from the £592,000 grant has been spent to date, and no new company has been set up. Pre set-up costs, procurement, project management and development are separate to this and the cost is being shared across both Churches.

“Following an initial procurement process, the Board has agreed that it would not be recommending the appointment of a preferred supplier to deliver the project; this decision was taken in partnership with the survivor representatives.

“Over the coming weeks the Board in partnership with survivors will agree the next steps and the best way forward. Survivor voices remain central to any future success of this new service and their welfare and support is an absolute priority for the Church in its continuing safeguarding work.

“Both churches are committed to supporting survivors of church-related abuse and providing an independent national service for survivors of any form of church-related abuse.”

Janet Fife

‘since the appointment of a project manager and the creation of the Safe Spaces Management Board last year eight survivor representatives from across both Churches are involved in ensuring we find the right organisation to deliver the project.’ I’m glad they are involving survivors in this, although I suspect they aren’t asking some who have been most vocal. I’m sure Matt Ineson would have something to say – and until the Church is ready to hear him, and Gilo, and “Graham’, and others, it won’t get very far. But as the project manager and board were appointed ‘last year’ –… Read more »

Martin Sewell

The Church seems to have lost the plot on this. One cannot hear of the delay and the associated costs without a rising sense of anger. Questions must be asked and more importantly – answered. This is not said in a vindictive sense but simply to seek an answer to the plainest of questions. “ How did the main thing cease to be the main thing?” The need was there, the victims known, the resource was available. It ought to have been possible to scope and deliver something for survivors within a year, by any team of competent managers. If… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley

Presumably when she was the Chief Nurse the Bishop of London must have overseen projects far bigger than this one. Why has everyone involved been so inept, had no sense of urgency given their rhetoric on safeguarding. Old school politicians such as Lord Carrington resigned when there were serious failings such as this; why haven’t senior bishops resigned over this pitiful episode? Thank God for Private Eye and a free press!

This doesn’t look good. Depressing really. Am I a fool to be surprised at the prevarication, the EIG involvement and the procurement story, especially 2buy2. “They talk of vanity every one with his neighbour: they do but flatter with their lips, and dissemble in their double heart.” Why not let the survivors run the project completely? OK, I know why not.

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Dec 15 2019 – “Does Archbishop Welby’s pride matter more than an elderly lady’s pain?” – Peter Hitchens – Denton Daily


Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Mrs Barbara Whitley

PETER HITCHENS: Does Archbishop Welby‘s pride matter more than an elderly lady‘s pain? 

PETER HITCHENS: Does Archbishop Welby‘s pride matter more than an elderly lady‘s pain? 

This Christmas I would like you to think of the plight of a 94-year-old woman, who has been atrociously mistreated by the Archbishop of Canterbury 

This I would like you to think of the plight of a 94-year-old woman, who has been atrociously mistreated by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Her name is Mrs Barbara Whitley. More than three years ago, the Church of England publicly accused her beloved long-dead uncle of the filthy crime of child sex abuse.

The charge was based on the word of a single accuser, more than half a century after the supposed offence. The Church had presumed his guilt and made no serious effort to discover the truth. Key living witnesses were neither sought, found nor interviewed. A senior bishop admitted soon afterwards that they were actually not convinced the claim was true. Yet by some mysterious process, a number of newspapers and stations, all on the same day, felt safe in confidently pronouncing that Barbara’s uncle had been a disgusting paedophile. No ifs or buts. Who told them?

A later inquiry would show that this miserable episode was based on nothing more than a chaotic, sloppy kangaroo court. One of this country’s most distinguished lawyers, Lord Carlile, tore the case against Barbara’s uncle to shreds. He said there would have been no chance of a conviction on the evidence available, and made mincemeat of the shambolic committee that had published the original allegation.

After delaying the release of this inquiry for weeks, Justin Welby’s church eventually published it. But did it admit its mistake and restore the reputation of Barbara Whitley’s wrongly defamed uncle?

Nope. Mr Welby, in defiance of all the rules of British justice, sulkily insisted that a ‘significant cloud’ still hung over the name of Barbara’s uncle. Thus, just as she might have been able to rejoice that her relative’s name had at last been cleared, the Head of the Established Church made it his personal business to prevent this.

And then, a few weeks later, another supposed allegation against her uncle was said to have been made. Why then? What was it? Who had made it? Nobody would say, but it served to stifle potential criticism of Mr Welby at the General Synod of the Church of England, which was about to begin. Details of the second allegation remain a secret. After nearly a year, Mr Welby’s church (which has a bad record of sitting on reports that it doesn’t like) still hasn’t come up with its conclusions. Yet Sussex Police, given the same information, dropped their investigations into the matter after a few short weeks.

It all looks a bit as if someone is trying to save someone’s face. But the cruelty to Barbara Whitley, who was 91 when this horrible saga began, is appalling. Who cares about some prelate’s pride (a sin in any case) when Mrs Whitley could be spared any more pain?

Because the cruelty to Mrs Whitley seems to me to be so shocking in a supposedly Christian organisation, I have deliberately left till last that the object of these accusations is the late Bishop of Chichester, George Bell. Bell was, as people who knew him have told me, a kind, scrupulously honest, courageous man. He was, most notably, a beloved friend of the German Christians who fought against Hitler and a brave critic of the cruelty of war. I sometimes wonder if modern bishops and archbishops are afraid of being compared with him. They have reason to be. In the meantime, Mr Welby’s church should end Mrs Whitley’s agony.

Does anyone really doubt that, if the archbishop wanted to, he could end the whole business today?

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David Hopkinson RIP


David Hopkinson

It is saddening to note the General Election has overshadowed the recent Memorial Service to David Hopkinson at Chichester Cathedral.

It is hoped Chichester Observer will right this wrong by writing a special feature about him after the Election.

It is important to remember this man’s huge contribution, not just to this Cathedral City but also to this county and this country.


Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

December 2019


Last week’s CHICHESTER OBSERVER was an interesting read, but I was disappointed that no mention was made of the Thanksgiving Service for David Hopkinson, which took the form of Choral Evensong last Tuesday at Chichester Cathedral.

David Hopkinson, CBE, was long, and closely connected with the Cathedral – more of this below. However, nationally he was a former Clerk to the House of Commons; served on the Bank of England Advisory Committee, and for nine years was a highly successful Managing Director of M & G Investment House.

Locally, he served as Chair of Pallant House Art Gallery, and was a Deputy Lord Lieutenant. The University of Chichester bestowed on him an honorary degree, in recognition of the contribution he made to life in Sussex.

Back to his years of devoted work for Chichester Cathedral, which benefited from his acquired financial skills. A founder member of Chichester Cathedral Restoration and Development Trust, providing substantial sums of money for the preservation of the Cathedral’s fabric, he also contributed, as a Church Commissioner, to the life of the national church.

Recent coverage in the national press have recalled David’s major role in the establishment of George Bell House. (Movingly, the first hymn in David’s Memorial Service, was ‘Christ is the King! O friends rejoice’, written by the former Bishop of Chichester himself.)

George Bell, as Episcopal Visitor to the Community of the Servants of the Cross, was in close contact with the remaining Anglican Sisters of the Community of the Servants of the Cross. They gave their blessing to David, as Chairman of the Community’s Trust, to use their finances to establish George Bell House as a Conference Centre. David was, as one who knew him, commented to us, ‘the moving spirit for all the negotiations’.

In my study, sits a brass plaque, which I had designed and made. It reads:


“No nation, no church, no individual is guiltless

 Without repentance and without forgiveness

 There can be no regeneration.”

 Bishop George Bell 1883-1958

It is the earnest wish of the many of us, locally and globally, who have been fighting since 2016 for the restoration of Bishop Bell’s good name,  as one of the greatest of Chichester’s Bishops, and a shining light in the ecumenical movement, to have this plaque affixed to the door of what has been temporarily named 4 Canon Lane.


Sandra Saer                                                                                     

The Bell Society

November 2019



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“If Bishop Bell did not abuse ‘Carol’, who did – and who framed Bishop Bell?”


Bishop George Bell

In his Memoirs “Shy But Not Retiring”, Bishop Eric Kemp describes various letters to him from Robin Bryans with accusations about ‘goings-on’ in Rottingdean and elsewhere.




“The key to the activities of this particular group lies with Robin Bryans, a Northern Ireland born author who wrote prolifically under the pseudonym Robin Harbinson. He is a cousin of John Bryans, the leading figure in the Orange Order who became the Grand Master of Ireland, who was McGrath’s bible study teacher at the North Belfast Mission in the York Street area and who later attended prayer meetings and British Israelite meetings in McGrath’s home.”

Chris Moore, p.88

The role of John Bryans Justice of the Peace, Grand Master of Ireland’s Heritage Lodge of the Orangemen 1970 is  key to explaining why William McGrath, a sadistic abuser at Kincora chooses the name TARA for his paramilitary Loyalist organisation in 1966.





As noted by Paul Foot in his 1989 book ‘Who framed Colin Wallace?’ TARA was “an unusual choice of title for a Loyalist paramilitary group.” Unusual because the Hill of Tara was a symbol traditionally associated with Celtic pre-Christian Ireland and the Kings of Ireland, not for example, King William of Orange as inspiration to the loyalty of the Orangemen.

The choice of name becomes even more strange when you learn the Hill of Tara had traditionally been a symbol and place of protest and rebellion AGAINST British rule:

“In more recent history, Tara has been the site of important political events, indicating its continuing significance for the Irish people. In 1798, rebels of the Irish revolution fought British troops on the Hill of Tara, and in 1843, a peaceful demonstration of some 750,000 people protested against Ireland’s union with Britain.” [http://www.sacred-destinations.com/ireland/hill-of-tara]

However, Chris Moore identified 18 years ago this was actually a very apposite name in the context of a deep heritage provided by the British Israelite belief system/myth McGrath which subscribed to with a specific twist for Protestant Evangelism that had grown up in the Orange Lodges of the time. This is just one of the many subjects Robin Bryans/Harbinson tries to address in The Dust Has Never Settled as relevant to understanding some of the reasons for why the abuse and prostitution of boys at Kincora and Lisburn locations was taking place. Chris Moore interviewed Robin Bryans in 1990 to discover Anthony Blunt’s association with the man he called ‘Hellfire Jack’  –  the same Rev. John Bryans Justice of the Peace, who later became International Head of the Orangemen and someone who could be said to be one of McGrath’s mentors.

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On 28 June 1970 Ireland’s Heritage Orange Lodge was formed.

“The Grand Master of the Orange Order, the Rev. John Bryans, who was also a British Israelite…helped to inaugurate the lodge.” (Paul Foot, p.121)

Four years previously McGrath had siezed control of a group and renamed it ‘Tara’ with the slogan “We hold Ulster that Ireland might be saved and Britain reborn.” He’d been holding British Israelite meetings at his house at Wellington Park where Rev. John Bryans would attend.

 “Tara was to be the vehicle by which the undercover elements of the British establishment would lift McGrath’s star into the political ascendancy.” (Chris Moore)

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Past Grand Master John Bryans, 1974 http://www.sneps.net/research-interests/orangeism/orange-photos

Bryans relates that John Bryans turned 100 in 1985 and there was a little ceremony with the Superintendent of the North Belfast Mission and appears to wish to draw attention to the fact that John Bryans had taken his mother’s surname and the fact that John Bryans fiery dedication to the British Israelite cause had in part crystallised when he said as a 12 year old he made 2,000 bricks a day. This enabled Bryans to preach with conviction when comparing himself with the Children of Israel in Egyptian bondage.

“I’m sure that as your knowledge of the Old Testament grew it must have struck a chord with you to note that the Israelites for whom you have a special admiration had to make bricks when they were under the heel of the Pharoah, and yet they came through.” (Robin Bryans, p.139)

Robin Bryans, p.139


Robin Bryans, The Dust Has Never Settled  (1992) p.55


In 1992 Robin Bryans (1928 – 2005) published his autobiography The Dust Has Never Settled. The excerpt to the left details the history of the Belfast Central Mission (1889-1989) a Methodist Church founded in 1889 by Rev Crawford Johnson.

He wrote : “Others have linked my name with the cover-up of sex scandals at Kincora Boys’ Home and my appeals for action about the abuses which were ignored by Cabinet Ministers.”

From robinbryans.net a biography:

“Robin Bryans was born on 24 April 1928, into a Protestant working-class family in the east of Belfast, Northern Ireland. He had an adventurous and colourful life which included working as a cabin boy on a Belfast Lough dredger, shepherding in the Western Highlands of Scotland, studying at Barry Religious College in South Wales, teaching in north Devon, working as a missionary in Canada, diamond prospecting in Canada and South America, hunting and trapping with the Blackfoot and Stony tribes in Canada, working in the theatre, lecturing in Venezuela, travelling to the Windward Islands, Copenhagen, Zurich and Asia, and being chased from Grenada by a hurricane.

As explained in Bryans’ fourth autobiography, The Protégé, the aristocracy took him under their wing. This new role suited him admirably, transforming him from a Belfast backstreet boy into a ‘lifelike toff’.

His twelve travel books included Gateway to the Khyber and Summer Saga: A Journey In Iceland, works full of detail, humour and fascinating anecdotes. For his later travel writing, he specialised in destinations influenced by Portuguese culture, as in Madeira, Pearl of the AtlanticThe Azores and Fanfare for Brazil.

In the sixties his attention turned to his native Northern Ireland and Ulster: A Journey Through The Six Counties revels in the local art and architecture, great country houses with their landscaped gardens, all of which he also pursued in many television programmes, for instance with Ulster Television, which became very popular.

Bryans’ view on life was refreshingly different from that of any other author, and, combined with his wide-ranging geographic knowledge, and skill at drawing out the characters of the people he met, made his work a treasure trove of human documentary.

Classical musicians featured in Bryans’ later life – he worked as an opera librettist and created a music school to encourage the work of composers, conductors and instrumentalists.

Bryans died on 11 June 2005, after a long illness, but in 2006, his writing was celebrated by no less than seventeen entries in The Ulster Anthology (Blackstaff Press, Belfast).”

Robin Harbinson, The Dust Has Never Settled, p.21

Bryans grew up  at 130, Donegall Avenue (“the house was an evangelical stronghold” until his family had moved in), in 1930s Belfast from a family of well-connected staunch Orangemen.  From his grandfather Dick Bryans who was a staunch Orangeman to his father Richard, a committed bandsman for the parades to  father’s cousin John Bryans, or ‘Hellfire Jack’ as he became known, (later reaching the heights of Head of the International Order of Orangemen before his death in 1988), Robin was always keenly aware of his heritage rich in British Israelite infused evangelical protestanism.

Robin called himself Harbinson as a nom de plume due to his closeness to the Harbinson family whose place backed onto his father’s window cleaning business on the Lisburn Road.

At the North Belfast Mission on York Road John Bryans or ‘Hellfire Jack’ (Blunt’s nickname according to Robin Bryans as reported by Chris Moore) had managed to carve himself a niche as a powerful fire and brimstone style proselytiser by taking his place outside the old Custom House in Belfast every Sunday afternoon and letting rip.

20 – 30 years prior to Robin Bryans’ recollections of growing up knowing his father’s cousin Hellfire Jack as a rising force in Belfast’s Orange Ulster community and a rousing example of evaangelical British Israelism to be reckoned with, a 1908 translation of Geoffrey Keating’s account of the History of Ireland (c. 1570-1644) tracing the lineage of the Irish as a lost tribe of Israel via Scythia had added further fuel to the maturing British-israelite theory and a fervent interest in tracing Irish genealogies, specifically of those who could show they had “colonised Ulster”:

“By the nineteenth century, with the development of British-Israel theory, Ireland came to have a significant role. According to some, the royal house of Ireland could be traced back to King David. One British-Israel writer opined, ‘There is evidence that the tribe of Dan fled by the sea from their captors and colonised Ulster in Ireland and Denmark…’” (Parfitt, The Lost Tribes of Israel: The History of the Myth, 2002, p. 43-44)

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The Hill of Tara in Northern Ireland is currently being threatened by an extension of the M3 running close by here, possibly requiring some excavations nearby – see http://www.sacred-sites.org for further info on the sacredness of the site and protests about the M3 extension.  The last time any digging took place on or near this ancient ceremonial mound in  Northern Ireland was during a period of four years at the end of the previous century, 2-3 years before Queen Victoria’s death and slightly into the reign of Edward VII and reading the book review for sounds like a very bizarre episode indeed. Presumably this time around any excavations will involve planning permission as opposed to a lone man wielding a rifle.

In 2002 Tudor Parfitt published his Lost Tribes of Israel: the History of a Myth, more on which here. His theme is that the creation of Israelite and Jewish identities throughout the world, from the Americas to Papua New Guinea, was an innate feature of colonial discourse. At a public lecture at Harvard in 2011, he modified this perspective, suggesting that the creation of such identities was also the result of what he called racialised religious manifestations. These were based on nineteenth-century racial theory.

The frenzy of speculation amongst the British-Israelites (Parfitt gives a figure of 2 million strong in 1900) by the end of the century may have been fuelled by millennial prophecies attached to various interpretations of the myth. By this point in time those British Israelites of the Celtic-Druidic-Hebraic strand are convinced Tara Hill as the pre-Celtic coronation spot of the old Kings of Ireland held the Ark of the Covenant and so they started digging despite protests by WB Yeats, George Moore and interestingly Douglas Hyde (not the author, an Irish scholar of the Irish language who later became the first President of Ireland and a leader of the Gaelic revival in Ireland).

In 2003, Mairead Carew wrote a book on ‘Tara and the  Ark of the Covenant’    describing the dig:

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“This book covers a search for the Ark of the Covenant by British-Israelites on the Hill of Tara (1899-1902). A group known as the British-Israelites dug the Hill of Tara in their quest to find the Ark of the Covenant between the years 1899 and 1902. What were their reasons for doing so, and were they successful? And what was the “Great Irish-Hebraic-cryptogramic hieroglyph” and the Freemason connection?

Arthur Griffith campaigned against the British-Israelite explorations and what he saw as the destruction of a national monument (the first of its kind). He protested on Tara in the company of William Butler Yeats, George Moore and Douglas Hyde, despite being ordered off the site by a man wielding a rifle. Maud Gonne made her colourful protest against the explorations by lighting a bonfire on Tara and singing “A nation once again”, much to the consternation of the landlord and the police.

This book describes the story of the British-Israelite excavations on Tara and places them in their archaelogical, historical, cultural and political context.”

For more on the Savile family’s preoccupation with Egyptian mythology, (Savile being persuaded to buy his elder sister Marjorie a house in Cairo) and Robin Bryan’s description of the Belfast Mission’s expansion sending British Israelite missionaries to Egypt to establish Shebeen Hospital at the turn of the 20th century.

















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Nov 29 2019 – “Church apology for historical antisemitism” – Times Letters by Bishop Gavin Ashenden [published] + Richard W. Symonds (unpublished)

Dear Editor

Bishop Gavin Ashenden’s reference to Bishop George Bell’s “confrontation” in the 1930’s (‘Church’s apology for historical antisemitism’, letters, Nov 22), reminds me of the latter’s September 1939 article in Fortnightly Review: ‘The Church’s Function in War-time’:

“The Church ought to declare what is just. It has a right to prophesy, to analyse the issues which lie behind a particular conflict, and to rebuke the aggressor…”

No mention of apology – just repentance.


Yours sincerely


Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society


The summary of the report by the Church of England into ‘Christian anti-Semitism dating back centuries’ gives immediate cause for concern on at least two counts.  First, it is staggering to read that hymns that ‘convey the teaching of contempt for Jews’ include Charles Wesley’s renowned Advent hymn ‘Lo, He comes with clouds descending’.  The reference in that hymn to Christ’s crucifixion cannot be interpreted as in any way anti-Semitic.  For one thing, it was the Romans, not the Jews, who crucified Jesus; and for another, it is meant to imply that all of us – who, like the multitudes who heralded His entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday – could like them turn against Him at a moment’s notice, especially if being seen to follow Him might place us in any danger ourselves.  We are all, especially at this time of year, waiting to see the ‘true Messiah’, who we believe will indeed one day return (as Revelation 1 states) in clouds of glory.  Or are we to take from this report that Revelation itself is anti-Semitic?

Secondly, it would appear from this summary that there is no mention in the report of those Church members, including senior clergy, who spoke out in this country against the persecution of Jews under the Third Reich during the 1930s and 1940s.  Such individuals rank among their numbers the late Bishop George Bell of Chichester, who personally supported many Jews and non-Aryan Christians to come to this country, including my own father. Bell had a difficult time persuading politicians and Church colleagues alike that not all Germans were Nazis, and it is likely that his stance cost him the most senior post that the Church had to offer.  It would be an act of true Christianity if more of the present-day Church of England leaders were to follow his  self-sacrificing example.

Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson


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Nov 29 2019 – ‘Guidebook’ Letter – Chichester Observer (unpublished) – Tim Hudson of Chichester


New Chichester Cathedral Guidebook

Friends and admirers of Bishop George Bell (who died in 1958) were appalled three years ago when a new guidebook to Chichester Cathedral was published.

A paragraph about the Bishop on page 37 accepted his identification (from a single accusation) as probably a paedophile, stating that the allegations, though never tested in a court of law, were ‘nonetheless plausible’.

An extra twist of the knife was the slightly unnecessary contention that ‘as Bell himself recognized, … supporting victims is always the right thing to do’.

The resulting outcry, in view of Bell’s previous blameless reputation, caused the Cathedral to withdraw the guidebook from its shop in the Cloisters, so that until recently the only guidebooks displayed were in French and German.

The 2016 revision could be sold to visitors who specifically requested it, but was kept under the counter as if it contained offensive material – as in a sense it did.

Now a newly revised version has silently appeared in the Cloisters shop.  In this the ‘outing’ of Bell has been removed, to be replaced by a longer account of his friendship with the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, executed by the Nazis in 1945.

It’s reassuring to see this evident change of view at the Cathedral over the character of one of Chichester’s greatest bishops.

Is it perhaps time now to commission for a site somewhere in or near the building a statue of this remarkable man?


Hawthorn  Close, Chichester

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Sept 2 2019 – “Sad Times in the Church of England” – Geoffrey Sampson



Geoffrey Sampson


Sad Times in the Church of England

For most of my life I have been an active member of the Church of England, and felt fortunate to be so. Suddenly I no longer feel that way. Since Justin Welby became Archbishop of Canterbury in 2013, the Church has been changing its nature and ceasing to be the organization I used to know.

My chief reason for saying this is the scandal relating to George Bell (1883–1958), who was bishop of Chichester from 1929 to his death. Bell is a man who would have been recognized as a saint, if the Church of England went in for saint-making. In the early 1930s he was active in support of workers harmed by the economic depression of that period. Then from 1934 on he became the leading voice outside Germany publicizing and protesting against Nazi anti-Semitic measures, supporting the section of the German Evangelical Church which opposed the Nazis, and helping Jewish refugees from Nazism. After World War II was under way, Bell was one of the very few public figures who condemned and used his role in Parliament to try to change the Allied policy of area bombing of civilian populations. Since the war it has been widely recognized that the bombing campaign was a barbaric stain on the British historical conscience, but at the time Bell’s stand attracted hostility, including from fellow church leaders. Bell tried to organize help for the anti-Nazi resistance within Germany, but was rebuffed by the British government – Bell believed that our government could have helped the July 1944 Hitler assassination plot to succeed, but instead chose to act in a way which ensured its failure. After the war, Bell was a leading proponent of magnanimity in victory, protesting for instance at the ethnic cleansing of Germans from Eastern European countries.

In 2013, when Bell had been dead more than half a century, one woman, “Carol”, complained to the new Archbishop that between the ages of five and nine she had been sexually abused by Bell. This was a period of public moral panic about sexual abuse of children. A number of appalling cases had come to light, involving people such as a recently-deceased show business personality, a still-living bishop, and a number of men from Muslim immigrant families who treated naive young white girls as meat to be passed round from bed to bed. As a result people, including the police, seemed disposed to take seriously even the flimsiest and most implausibly lurid allegations against public figures.

In the case of Bishop Bell, the Church rushed to accept “Carol’s” story with no apparent willingness to consider that the allegations might be false (although everyone by then could see that there was money to be made from false accusations). After holding an enquiry at which George Bell’s living relatives were not allowed to appoint a lawyer to defend Bell, the Church declared that it accepted the allegations, and paid “Carol” a substantial sum in compensation. A church school named after Bishop Bell was given a new name, and other similar moves were made to blot out the memory of Bell as a great man.

Many individual voices within the Church protested at this travesty of normal standards of justice and due process, but they were ignored, until in 2016 the Church asked the senior lawyer Lord Carlile to review the way it had dealt with “Carol’s” allegations. His conclusion was that the Church had “rushed to judgement” and “failed to follow a process that was fair and equitable to both sides”; but this led to no change of heart on the part of the Church authorities. In January 2018 they claimed that they had “fresh evidence” against Bell (a statement which Lord Carlile said ought not to have been made public when the details were not revealed and so could not be tested).

Obviously the worry, for those of us who feel shocked by all this, has been that if we were privy to whatever confidential information the Archbishop has, perhaps we would realize that the allegations were well-founded. But in March 2018 the man who had been “safeguarding officer” for Chichester diocese when the Church accepted the allegations made a statement which appeared to imply that the real reason for that acceptance had been, not conviction of their probable truth, but a desire to mitigate an uninsured financial risk in case of further similar allegations. (See p. 9 of The Spectator for 24 Mar 2018 – and see also a hard-hitting letter to the editor of the Daily Telegraph on the same date from Dr Ruth Grayson.)

This is not what we expect from the Church. What authority can it have to preach to us that care for other people should take precedence over our selfish financial interests, if it throws one of its great men to the wolves as soon as its own finances are threatened?

Justin Welby came to ministry unusually late, after an early career in the oil industry. The behaviour of the Church in the Bell case seems to reflect norms of the commercial world, where a firm will routinely trim its sails to shifts in public opinion so as to avoid any conflict which might threaten profits. From the Church we expect higher standards, and before the tenure of the current archbishop we got them.

A second episode which has reinforced my doubts about the Church today also relates to the current panic about “safeguarding children and vulnerable adults”. Our Deanery encouraged us to attend a training session on this subject, organized by our Diocese, at which most of the talking was by a woman who used to be in the police but has now been appointed by the diocese to improve safeguarding standards. The tiny congregation in our parish doesn’t really have children or vulnerable adults, but I dutifully went along. After a chunk of bureaucratic guff of interest only to administrators, the bulk of the session revolved round a series of hypothetical scenarios which we were invited to consider and decide whether they warranted reporting to the police. We were told “Say what you think – there are no right or wrong answers.” But when a couple of us ventured to put an alternative to the speaker’s point of view (in one case in particular, relating to money rather than sex, it seemed very easy to imagine that rushing to the police could do more harm than good), the shutters immediately came down. The speaker’s view was right, we were wrong, no discussion. From comments in the national press it appeared that churchgoers all over the country were having similar experiences.

Again this is not the Church of England I thought I knew. One of the strong points of our national church has been that (in contrast to the Roman Catholic church) it is not intellectually authoritarian. It has not, in recent centuries, presumed to impose a single correct point of view in areas where in reality truth is grey and debatable. For a policewoman it is natural to see the world in crudely legalistic black and white terms, that is their déformation professionelle. But one looks to the Church for a more nuanced and tentative (and hence more morally realistic) attitude.

On the other hand it is clearly true that in the current climate of public opinion, informing on one’s neighbour whenever one thinks one might have detected any vague hint of impropriety is the “safe” thing to do, never mind whether it might be a recipe for an unhealthy society.

What does an ordinary man in the pew do in this situation? Living where I do it would be difficult to transfer allegiance to one of the nonconformist churches, even supposing their current standards were better, and at the parish level I am very happy with my church. Furthermore Welby will not be Archbishop for ever. So I suppose I will struggle on in the Church of England for the immediate future at least. But my enthusiasm is severely dimmed. If I were not a member already, I would not feel tempted to join.

— I wrote the above in April 2018. Two months later, Welby did it again! That June he made a public speech in which he described the European Union as “the greatest dream realized for human beings” since the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century. I am not sure how dreamy the Roman Empire was, but more to the point: in terms of political wisdom shown by different people co-operating to create lasting structures which succeed in reconciling the conflicting interests and ideals of numerous individual inhabitants, both the gradual evolution of the Swiss Confederation since the thirteenth century, and the creation of the USA in the eighteenth, knock spots off the EU. Quite a lot even of those who voted Remain in our referendum would agree, I believe. I didn’t get the impression that they mostly voted in a spirit of “Isn’t the EU great!” Some may have, and Welby was evidently one of them, but there was a great deal of “Safer to stick with what we’ve got, getting out might prove even worse”.

Is Welby on a one-man campaign to ensure that thinking people want nothing to do with the Anglican Communion in future? In August 2019 he announced that he was chairing a group whose aim is apparently to frustrate our current Prime Minister’s attempts finally to get Britain out of the EU. It astonishes me that the head (under the Queen) of the national Church can think it appropriate to act as a partisan in a matter of political controversy in this way. (Does he think that those of us who warmly support Boris Johnson’s approach are for that reason bad Christians?) A view which seems much more appropriate for a man of God was expressed in early 2019 by Jonathan Sacks, until 2013 the Chief Rabbi of the UK, who said in effect (I haven’t got his words in front of me) that the principle of government in a democracy being subordinate to the wishes of the population is so important that, even if our rulers were thoroughly convinced that Britain leaving the EU would be a serious mistake, once the referendum was held in 2016 and the majority was for Leave, they must ensure that we leave.

Early in 2019, the Bell story took a new turn. A further official report by Timothy Briden, an ecclesiastical lawyer and the Vicar General of Canterbury, found that the accusations against Bishop Bell were “inconsistent” and “unreliable”. One 80-year-old witness had said that his mother had told him that she had seen Bishop Bell “carrying out a sexual act with a man over his Rolls-Royce” back in 1967. Bishop Bell never had a Rolls. It was obvious that this and the rest of the salacious tittle-tattle was the product of warped, attention-seeking imaginations. Yet the Archbishop still refused publicly to exonerate Bell. He accepted that the original inquiry was mishandled, but said “It is still the case that there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation … and this cannot be ignored” (Daily Telegraph, 25 Jan 2019). Bell’s successor as current Bishop of Chichester took the same line. The Bell family’s barrister, Desmond Browne QC, commented: “the investigations by two experienced lawyers [have established] George Bell’s innocence. But not once [has] the Archbishop of Canterbury offered Bell the presumption of innocence.”

The authorities in charge of the Archbishop’s own cathedral, Canterbury, announced that they plan to install a statue of Bishop Bell in one of the niches in the west wall, which typically contain figures of saints. Remarkably, the Archbishop responded that this would be a fine idea. I think that is called running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. It seems obvious that the Archbishop knows perfectly well that Bishop Bell was innocent of the charges against him, but he won’t come out and say so, because he is terrified that there might be some legal or financial come-back for the institution he is running.

This is the man whose job it is to inspire the population to be soldiers for Christ?

Also in 2019, other unwelcome features of the new-look Church of England emerged. In January it appointed a new national adviser for income generation, Jonathan de Bernhardt Wood, who had published a book on the subject (promoted on several Church websites) recommending the “target[ing of] those most vulnerable to our fundraising message”, namely “single, elderly, poor females”, and advocating signing church members up to bank standing orders, which he saw as “God’s special gift to fundraisers” partly because people often forget to stop them. “Fundraising through forgetfulness may not seem particularly noble or principled, but it is pragmatic, and in fundraising pragmatism is king … In my book … the ends justify the means.” (Reported in the Daily Telegraph, 25 March 2019.)

Then in August we heard that the beautiful 11th–12th century cathedral at Norwich had installed a large helter-skelter in its nave, with rides costing £2 a time. Some of us who see churches as important buildings think of them as places for contemplating serious, sometimes grim topics – ones that adults must sometimes face, and where better than in a church? They are not intended as indoor funfairs.

Why is it that when organizations like churches – or universities, in which I made my own career – decide that they ought to act like businesses, they always seem to choose the shabbiest, fly-by-night type of businesses as models?


Geoffrey Sampson

last changed 2 Sep 2019

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Feb 2 2018 – Church Times Letters – “How should a line be drawn under the Bell affair” [Revd Alan Fraser + Revd Dr Barry Orford]

Letters to the Editor


How should a line be drawn under the Bell affair?

From the Revd Alan Fraser

Sir, — It is clear that some people have been angered by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement last week concerning the allegations against the late George Bell (News, 26 January). I must confess myself simply confused.

Having looked through the Carlile review, I suppose I had expected the half-apology to the relatives of Bishop Bell for the distress the Church’s investigative failures caused to them. I then expected a grudging acknowledgement that, without casting doubt on “Carol’s” testimony, the presumption of innocence would have to be applied to Bishop Bell unless and until any corroborating evidence came to light.

But no. With admirable clarity, the Archbishop said that he could not “with integrity” clear Bishop Bell’s name, and further, that the substance of “Carol’s” complaint was probably true. Given that the rest of us are not able to review the evidence against Bishop Bell, I think we are obliged to take at face value the Archbishop’s statements, and have reluctantly to conclude that Bishop Bell sexually abused a young girl.

But the Archbishop then goes on to say that this “does not diminish the importance of his [Bell’s] great achievements, and he is one of the great Anglican heroes of the 20th century”. With respect, I don’t see how these two statements can possibly both be true at the same time. If Bishop Bell sexually abused “Carol” repeatedly over a period of four years, it emphatically does diminish his achievements.

At the very least, the Church of England should suspend forthwith Bishop Bell’s commemoration on 3 October (as the Episcopal Church in the United States has already done) with a view to removing it from the liturgical calendar entirely. It would also seem advisable that Bishop Bell’s name be removed from any church institution or building in order to send the clearest of messages that paedophiles are not to be celebrated. And, if the Archbishop genuinely believes Bell to be an abuser, he should stop describing him as a “hero”, as it is clearly wholly inappropriate.

But it seems unlikely that any of these things will ever happen, because almost no one else who has reviewed the case against Bishop Bell appears to believe him guilty, even on the balance of probabilities. And, indeed, many of them loudly continue to declare him innocent. Meanwhile, the liturgical calendar ticks slowly on and clergy are left wondering “What should we do on 3 October? Whom are we to believe?”

It seems to me that the only possible way to break this unfortunate impasse is for the Church to commission the one thing that Archbishop Welby seems keen, inexplicably, to avoid at all costs: an independent review of the evidence against Bishop Bell which declares authoritatively on his guilt, or otherwise. I am at a loss to understand why this was not included within the remit of the Carlile review, as it would have avoided the current confusion. But we cannot continue to be asked to believe both that Bell was a paedophile and that he continues to be an Anglican hero, as though sexual abuse of a five-year old is no more than an unfortunate character flaw that can be discreetly overlooked in the face of ecclesial achievements. It most definitely is not.

41 Hobhouse Close
Great Barr
Birmingham B42 1HB

From the Revd Dr Barry Orford

Sir, — Amid the widespread dismay and anger at Archbishop Justin Welby’s statements concerning Bishop George Bell, a disturbing fact must not be overlooked. But for the concerned individuals who banded together to demand justice for Bishop Bell, the official presumption of his guilt would have been generally accepted, and his reputation wrecked at the hands of a now discredited committee for which the Bishop of Chichester must accept final responsibility. This is shocking in itself, and in what it suggests about the Church of England’s approach to questions of truth.

The only acceptable resolution of this miserable affair is for the Archbishop and Bishop to express contrition and declare that no shadow remains over Bishop Bell’s name. Perhaps this might best be done during a service in Chichester Cathedral celebrating the life and achievements of George Bell.

That the claimant in the case was abused as a child is credible. There has been no convincing evidence presented for believing that she was abused by Bishop Bell. Why is it so difficult for Archbishop Welby and Dr Warner to admit this?

Flat B, 8 Hampstead Square
London NW3 1AB

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Matthew Ineson and the “Review of Trevor Devamanikkam case” – ‘Thinking Anglicans’

Review of Trevor Devamanikkam case

Matthew Ineson
I was called yesterday afternoon by the NST and the Statement read to me. I disagreed with it and pointed out the untruths in it. I was told my points would be raised with Melissa Caslake. This was not done and the statement was published virtually straight away.

I have NEVER said I will give aural or documentary evidence to the church’s proposed ‘reviewer’, in fact I have categorically said I will not (as the ‘review’ is currently proposed). The reviewer will not get sight of all documents cos she wont get mine until a genuine independent review is agreed. The statement is misleading and contains untruths.
My position remains the same as it always has. This review is a review into how the church handled my disclosures both before and during the police investigation plus events after Devamanikkam’s death. It is wrong, therefore, that the church appoint the person who is going to investigate their actions, write a terms of reference into the investigation (no terms of reference have yet been drawn up anyway) and control the whole investigation into themselves. We have repeatedly asked the church to work with us to have a totally independent review, which they have refused.
The church have appointed their proposed ‘reviewer’ on their own terms and I was told only yesterday by Melissa Caslake that no one from the church has contacted Mr Devamanikkam’s family or representatives to ask if they would like to be involved.
The church are steamrollering ahead, trying to control an investigation into themselves. This is open to corruption.
I would work 100% with a genuinely independent review. This is not it and while the church still try to ride roughshod over victims of abuse like myself (as they have with the publication of this statement) I will not be cooperating and have never agreed to.
Why is the church afraid of a truly independent review?
If, for example, a policeman was facing an investigation into his conduct he would not be the one interviewing and appointing the investigator nor would he be writing the terms of reference. So why should the church in this case?
And what does the proposed ‘reviewer’ actually think she is going to be doing as no terms of reference have yet been drawn up? Who would agree to such a job without knowing what they will be doing?
This is a sham. It is open to corruption. It is bullying again.

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Mistaken Identity. So, who abused ‘Carol’ at Chichester Cathedral in the late 1940’s/early 1950’s – Charles Monk or Eric Banks?

austin a125 sheerline 004_7199

Black Chauffeur car similar to that shared by the Bishop of Chichester and the Town Clerk [NOT a Rolls Royce]

Chauffeur Charles Monk or Town Clerk’s son Eric Banks?



1949 – ‘Rolls Royce’ Chauffeur Charles Monk

https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2019-01/briden_decision_open_final.pdf – Section D

“The other name mentioned is that of Charles Monk, who was the bishop’s chauffeur, and lived in one of the cottages between the Old Kitchen of the Palace, and the gatehouse into the Palace grounds. His daughter possibly knew Carol; she would have been about the same age. Further, I have been told that, post Chichester, he went to prison for sexual offences, though I have never checked up on this. It might be no more than local gossip” – Noel Osborne


1980’s – 1990’s – Peter Ball offences


1970’s to 2001 – Eric Banks son, Terence, convicted.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-28211057 – 2014

Terence Banks – Chichester/Hammersmith


2001 – Dean Treadgold’s bonfire



2016 – Identity of Abuser questioned



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Nov 24 2019 -“Chichester Cathedral moves to restore Bishop George Bell” – ‘Archbishop Cranmer’ – Martin Sewell

Chichester Cathedral moves to restore Bishop George Bell


Chichester Cathedral


  • Well in the case of Bishop Bell daylight should have been allowed into this long ago. I firmly believe if you want to accuse you do so in the light of common day, not in the shadows of anonymity. And nor do I believe that the Church, nor anyone else for that matter, should be sending fat cheques for allegations which have not been proved beyond reasonable doubt.

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      This was a civil proceeding and claim, not a criminal case. Out of court settlements happen all the time without acceptance of culpability or liability. The error in this instance was not the payment (which was small given the nature of the allegations) but the Church of England accepting the claims were credible and that George Bell was guilty. There was no need for Welby to say he could not, with integrity, clear Bell’s name.

      To be honest, having been in similar situations, Jack has some empathy with Welby’s statement:

      “We have to treat both Bishop Bell, his reputation — we have to hold that as something really precious and valuable. But the person who has brought the complaint is not an inconvenience to be overlooked: they are a human being of immense value and dignity, to be treated equally importantly. And it is very difficult to square that circle.”

    • Reply

        I agree. For many reasons the CoE made a grotesque mess of its handling of this case, but it is worth asking what should have been done that wasn’t. In my view, (1) ‘Carol’ should have been told: “We are not pre-judging anything but we need to cross-examine you, because someone who has genuinely been abused and a golddigger would say the same thing, and cross-examination will give us more information to distinguish. Can you see why we require that?” And (2) That reporter who said others had been abused in a local newspaper should have been followed up by the enquiry, no matter how many phone calls had gone unreturned.

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          What should have been done ? That is patently obvious: ‘Carol’s’ story should have been rigorously examined and she should have been made to make her accusations in the light of common day, not in this hole in corner manner. Bishop Bell deserved far better than this nonsense. I think the lessons of ‘Nick’ should be heeded and those who claim to have been abused in 1892 or whenever should not be believed without their story being tested properly. And the last thing that ought to be done is sending fat cheques. Time to derail the compensation gravy train.

        • Reply

          Any decent qualified child protection expert assessing this woman’s allegations, would have tested her account. “Cross examination” is an adversarial process intended to discredit and undermine. Truth and justice isn’t always the outcome. For victims of abuse, this can be harmful and traumatic. This matter was settled and didn’t go to court – civil or criminal. If it had gone to a civil court, given that George Bell was dead and the action would have been against the Church of England, it would have been the Church who would have been “cross examining” the claimant and seeking to undermine her testimony. As Jack said, he empathises with Welby in this situation.

        • Reply

            I mean the same by “cross examination” as you mean by “testing her account”. I agree with the words of Welby you have quoted, but overall I believe he grotesquely mispresided over the matter.

          • Reply

              In going public with George Bell’s name? He argued that when the details eventually became public at the inquiry, the Church would have been accused of a cover-up. And he was right in this. His error was in stating (or implying) that he believed Bell was guilty when there was no clear evidence for this.

            • Reply

    At IICSA Justin Welby said “We’ve got to learn to put actions behind the words because ‘sorry’ is pretty cheap.”
    He also said that he had apologised to me in person at lambeth palace in November 2016. He did not. Neither my solicitor or myself remember an apology and the minutes for the meeting, taken by a member of the nst, record no apology. This meeting was 7 months before Devamanikkam was even charged (and nobody knew if he would be). Was Justin Welby so convinced of Devamanikkams guilt that he apologised to me 7 months in advance of charges? This is not likely.
    Further an internal memo (obtained through a subject access request) from the same member of the nst dated April 2018 clearly states that no apology had been issued.
    So was Justin Welby mistaken, badly briefed or deliberately telling an untruth to the inquiry?
    The ‘letter’ Justin Welby produced (a few minutes before the start of the hearing despite there being months to prepare statements and hand in documentary evidence) , which I have never received, was a fudge anyway and the barrister asked Justin Welby if that was an apology or the beginning of one.
    I was sat behind him the whole time but he never turned round once.
    I have still had no formal apology despite being raped by a vicar in a vicarage. I would not want that regurgitated excuse now anyway.
    If apologies are so cheap..then do it along with restorative action that is appropriate.
    The truth is that any apology now would be worthless because it would have had to be dragged out of Mr Welby or Mr Sentamu. It is a cold, cold heart that behaves like this.
    Raped by a vicar in a vicarage as a youngster and the archbishop, nor any of the other bishops who have acted shabbily and shambolicly can even say sorry. I was right in my observations at iicsa….not fit for office.

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    About time too! Any idea when George Bell’s statue will be unveiled at Canterbury cathedral? A great Dean and a great Bishop. Let’s hope that his hymn – “Christ is the king” will have been sung today in many churches and cathedrals on Christ the King/Stir up Sunday.

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    When is Welby resigning?

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    The guide book has been changed. Good.
    Central to justice for George Bell is the fight against those who judge the past, without sufficient evidence or context, by the standards of today, to buy approval and signal virtue.

    If you can see this in the case of George Bell, Martin, why do you still support us repenting for the acts of slave traders, antisemites and persecutors of homosexuals? These things were done in different times by other people. To suggest that we bear guilt is just another form of injustice and stupidity.

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      Absolutely agree, Chef. The biblical, godly principle is that each person is responsible for his (or her) own wrongdoing or sin, and no-one elses’s. The instruction given in Deut.24:16, 2Ki.14:6, and 2Chr.25:4, while expressed within a context where the death penalty was implemented, gives a principle of personal responsibility that applies in contexts where other penalties are implemented.

      The requirement for retrospective grovelling apology for wrongdoings that are not a particular person’s fault or responsibility is a form of guilt manipulation that needs to be resisted with full determination, no matter what the force of social coercion applied to that person to perform an act which is nothing but virtue-signalling. Justice demands that the innocent should not be punished, but the guilt-manipulating coercing social mob cares nothing for justice, but only for vindictive, unjustified punishment.

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Featured post

Nov 22 2019 – “Does Archbishop Welby’s pride matter more than an elderly lady’s pain?” – Peter Hitchens at Christmas


Archbishop Justin Welby and Mrs Barbara Whitley

PETER HITCHENS: Does Archbishop Welby‘s pride matter more than an elderly lady‘s pain? 

Peter Hitchens: Does Archbishop Welby‘s pride matter more than an elderly lady‘s pain?

This Christmas I would like you to think of the plight of a 94-year-old woman, who has been atrociously mistreated by the Archbishop of Canterbury 

This I would like you to think of the plight of a 94-year-old woman, who has been atrociously mistreated by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Her name is Mrs Barbara Whitley. More than three years ago, the Church of England publicly accused her beloved long-dead uncle of the filthy crime of child sex abuse.

The charge was based on the word of a single accuser, more than half a century after the supposed offence. The Church had presumed his guilt and made no serious effort to discover the truth. Key living witnesses were neither sought, found nor interviewed. A senior bishop admitted soon afterwards that they were actually not convinced the claim was true. Yet by some mysterious process, a number of newspapers and stations, all on the same day, felt safe in confidently pronouncing that Barbara’s uncle had been a disgusting paedophile. No ifs or buts. Who told them?

A later inquiry would show that this miserable episode was based on nothing more than a chaotic, sloppy kangaroo court. One of this country’s most distinguished lawyers, Lord Carlile, tore the case against Barbara’s uncle to shreds. He said there would have been no chance of a conviction on the evidence available, and made mincemeat of the shambolic committee that had published the original allegation.

After delaying the release of this inquiry for weeks, Justin Welby’s church eventually published it. But did it admit its mistake and restore the reputation of Barbara Whitley’s wrongly defamed uncle?

Nope. Mr Welby, in defiance of all the rules of British justice, sulkily insisted that a ‘significant cloud’ still hung over the name of Barbara’s uncle. Thus, just as she might have been able to rejoice that her relative’s name had at last been cleared, the Head of the Established Church made it his personal business to prevent this.

And then, a few weeks later, another supposed allegation against her uncle was said to have been made. Why then? What was it? Who had made it? Nobody would say, but it served to stifle potential criticism of Mr Welby at the General Synod of the Church of England, which was about to begin. Details of the second allegation remain a secret. After nearly a year, Mr Welby’s church (which has a bad record of sitting on reports that it doesn’t like) still hasn’t come up with its conclusions [See Briden Report for conclusions – Ed]. Yet Sussex Police, given the same information, dropped their investigations into the matter after a few short weeks.

It all looks a bit as if someone is trying to save someone’s face. But the cruelty to Barbara Whitley, who was 91 when this horrible saga began, is appalling. Who cares about some prelate’s pride (a sin in any case) when Mrs Whitley could be spared any more pain?

Because the cruelty to Mrs Whitley seems to me to be so shocking in a supposedly Christian organisation, I have deliberately left till last that the object of these accusations is the late Bishop of Chichester, George Bell. Bell was, as people who knew him have told me, a kind, scrupulously honest, courageous man. He was, most notably, a beloved friend of the German Christians who fought against Hitler and a brave critic of the cruelty of war. I sometimes wonder if modern bishops and archbishops are afraid of being compared with him. They have reason to be. In the meantime, Mr Welby’s church should end Mrs Whitley’s agony.

Does anyone really doubt that, if the archbishop wanted to, he could end the whole business today?


[This article previously appeared in the Mail on Sunday – December 16 2018]



“Of course it does!” – Rev Peter Mullen

“Nothing, as we all know, is more important than a person’s reputation, for good or ill. it is astonishing to me that it is still necessary to fight to preserve the reputation of George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, 1929-1958.
I am surprised to think that in 2019 we need to teach an Archbishop of Canterbury (Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge) the vital place of the presumption of innocence in our English system of justice.
Has he not heard of the cases of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four?  They did as much damage to Anglo-Irish relations as the wickedness of the bombers themselves.
Indeed George Bell still has much to teach us about our resistance to the tyranny of Nazi Germany in a world in which so-called civilised nations are still trying to bomb the Middle East into the Stone Age” – Gerald Morgan, FTCD (Leader: English Parliamentary Party, 2001)
“There should be no need for compromise, but there is a possible face-saver for the archbishop. That George Bell should be exonerated there is no doubt. It does not follow, however, that Carol must have been lying. The most probable outcome is that this was a case of mistaken identity, and in Chichester two possible offenders have been identified, though nothing can ever be proved” – Noel Osborne
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Nov 20 2019 – New Chichester Cathedral Guidebook reprinted [with child abuse allegations against Bishop Bell replaced by Bell-Bonhoeffer correspondence]

Dear All

You’ll be pleased to know that the Chichester Cathedral guidebook has recently reappeared in the Cloisters bookshop – but with the paragraph on Bishop Bell’s supposed paedophilia replaced by a longer account of his friendship with Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

I have written to the Chichester Observer mentioning this, since most people won’t know about it.  I wonder if it represents the beginning of a change of stance from the Cathedral people; let’s hope so.

With best wishes,



Front Cover and original Page 37 [with child abuse allegation against Bishop Bell]


Original Page 37 [with child abuse allegation against Bishop Bell]



New Page 37 – Re-written





The old Guidebook was printed by “Pitkin Publishing. The History Press…1/16” and the new Guidebook reprinted by “Pitkin Publishing. Pavilion Books Company Ltd…2/19” [ie printed in Feb 2019 – but on sale in Cloisters Bookshop at Chichester Cathedral in Nov 2019 – a 9-month delay]

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Nov 17 2019 – Peter Hitchens on Lord Bramall and Bishop Bell…and Archbishop Welby


Peter Hitchens

Peter Hitchens

Welby still won’t do the right thing

Peter Hitchens – Mail on Sunday – November 17 2019

It is a shocking thing to say, but it is true that it is fortunate for the late Field Marshal Lord Bramall, who died last week, that he was falsely accused while he was still alive. Had the attack happened years after his death, as was the case with the comparably great Bishop George Bell of Chichester, the law would not in the end have rescued his reputation.

You can say what you like about the dead, and nothing will happen to you. The accusations of terrible sex crimes made decades after his death against Bishop Bell have been comprehensively shown to be mistaken, to put it charitably.

But some people, most notable among them the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, Justin Welby, continue to refuse to admit they were mistaken when they first accepted them.

He claims sulkily that there’s still a ‘significant cloud’ over Bishop Bell. By behaving in this way, Mr Welby shows he does not properly understand the faith of the church he heads.



Revd Peter Mullen

Good for Peter Hitchens!
Welby and his sidekick, the extremely unpleasant, waxy and oleaginous Bishop Martin Warner of Chichester, have been called to account many times over the last few years and asked politely to do the right thing and apologise. No result.
My opinions don’t count for very much in the world of ecclesiastical skulduggery, but I have published a few articles about this scandal.
Is there anything else to be done?
~ Rev Peter Mullen
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“Adenhauer – Memoirs 1945-53” [Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1966] – Bishop Bell


Dr Konrad Adenhauer [Source – “Adenhauer Memoirs 1945-53” – Page 241]

Page 60-61

“Oberkirchenrat Cillien from Hanover visited England for two weeks in the summer of 1946 and made a very interesting report on his trip. He met prominent men in political and social life, and was impressed by the readiness of the British as private individuals to help. He also got the impression that government offices were doing everything in their power to alleviate conditions in Germany, and that the British could not understand why there was so little German recognition of all the trouble England was going through to save Germany from catastrophe after her defeat. British occupation policies were indeed being harshly criticised in Germany, especially the dismantling of big industrial plants, and many a hard word was said against the British.

“Oberkirchenrat Cillien told me that German appreciation and courtesy, whose absence had been so remarked on in Britain, were in his view a pre-condition of any later understanding and rapprochement. This door must not be allowed to close – not even if German complaints were justified. He had found a plain and simple readiness to give help, the predominant characteristic in all his conversations with leading personalities, especially of the Church of England.

“His visit to the Bishop of Chichester, Dr George Bell, showed this. Dr Bell, incidentally, had protested strongly against the unlimited bombing of Germany during the last years of the war. 

“The Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Reverend Walter Robert Matthews (see “Teach Yourself Philosophy” by CEM Joad – Ed), had received Cillien with great kindness on the steps of the cathedral.

“All this Cillien took as a signof the readiness of British Christians to hold out a hand to a beaten enemy, without resentment. He was most impressed by British respect for the individuality ofan alien people.”


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“The George Bell – Gerhard Leibholz Correspondence” – ‘In the Long Shadow of the Third Reich, 1938-1958’ by Gerhard Ringshausen and Andrew Chandler [Bloomsbury – 2019]

  • Oct 30 2019 – “The George Bell – Gerhard Leibholz Correspondence” – ‘In the Long Shadow of the Third Reich, 1938-1958’ by Gerhard Ringshausen and Andrew Chandler [Bloomsbury – 2019]

    “I really think you are the living Christian conscience of this country, and I only feel it a little painful that the other acting Archbishops and Bishops have not taken the opportunity of openly supporting you in a matter which concerns them too. In any case, at a time when the political leaders are obviously not able to see the implications of their policy, it is a comfort to know that there are in this country personalities who have the courage to stand up against public opinion, and to warn the nation in a truly prophetic way of the dangerous road they are taking”


    ~ Gerhard Leibholz to George Bell, 14 February 1944

“Two members of the House of Lords should make a point of reading these inspiring letters: the Archbishop of Canterbury and the current Bishop of Chichester…” ~ Lord Lexden

More information:



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An Anniversary Tribute to Bishop George Bell by Fr. Michael Fullagar – on the eve of the Coburg Conference in Chichester


Bishop George Bell

Dear Reader

(A victim of some strange illness these last months, I have not been officiating , but I wanted to honour on the anniversary of his heavenly birthday George Bell, one Bishop whom many of us consider great).

As a graduate, I was an ordinand at Chichester Theological College  for just eight terms between 1957-1959.  As the College was short of accommodation at the time, I spent  my second year in a room  on the top floor of the Bishop’s Palace.   I was already well acquainted with the Bishop’s Chapel, as that served  also as the College Chapel, where we assembled, except when we worshipped in the Cathedral. Later on we had our own Chapel and a new Building, the latter due to the generosity of many, till the C. of E. closed down our oldest Theological College. It was due to the kindness of Bishop George Bell, one of the great Bishops of Chichester, that for a time both my spiritual and bodily home was to be in the Palace. We did not see the Bishop very often, but memories remain vivid of both him and Henrietta, his splendid wife.

As I am one of a dwindling  number of former students still alive who remember those days, Andrew Chandler,  of the University of Chichester, George’s excellent biographer and defender against calumny, asked me among others specific questions about the Palace Building as it was. Of course, if the accusers had only spoken to George Bell’s former Chaplain, who was still alive at the time, a Chaplain never far from the Palace, they would have learned that the Bishop was abroad for much of the time they mentioned. Nor did he ever own a Rolls Royce, as was suggested. If George Bell were by any chance aware of allegations made against his name, I imagine he would raise a wry smile, for this good man had to face opposition for much of his life, not least from Bishops and Politicians.

In George Bell’s memory, the Arundel screen in the Cathedral has been restored and re-erected. On one side is a profile of Bell with the inscription – ‘GEORGE KENNEDY ALLEN BELL, BISHOP OF CHICHESTER 1929 -1958. A TRUE PASTOR. POET AND PATRON OF THE ARTS. CHAMPION OF THE OPPRESSED AND TIRELESS WORKER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY.’ Fresh flowers  were placed underneath the bronze even before  accusers apologised. One of George’s final acts was to dedicate in his honour Bishop Bell School, Eastbourne, now renamed St Catherine’s College, though I wonder which Catherine they mean (the Alexandrian  ‘Wheel’ one or Siena) . I cannot find any answer to that, and have not heard of any plans to bring back the original name.

As far as I know, George Bell House at 4 Canon Lane, has not as yet had its proper name restored, although George’s fourth successor as Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, has apologised, (incidentally the previous three being Roger Wilson, Eric Kemp and John Hind, all of whom I have had the privilege to meet) .   

We remain proud of George Bell’s connection with this glorious Church of St Mary, Hampden Park, which he consecrated on 24th October, 1953. As we enter the Church, we do not fail to see on the outer wall that tribute to a beloved Bishop.

A son of the Vicarage, winning the Newdigate prize at Oxford for a poem, then at Wells Theological College, George went to work in Leeds, where he greatly admired the social work of the Methodists. Later, as a Domestic Chaplain to Randall Davidson at Canterbury, George wrote his two volume official biography.

As a distinguished pioneer of the Ecumenical Movement, George befriended the German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was hanged by the Nazis on 9th April, 1945, at Flossenburg Concentration Camp. In 1938-9, Bell helped 90 people  escape from Germany to Britain. He spoke passionately in the House of Lords against the blanket bombing of civilians in Germany, which did him no earthly favours with either Prelates or Politicians. Many people believe that he would have become Archbishop of Canterbury rather than Geoffrey Fisher, if he had not been opposed by the Archbishop of York, and if Winston Churchill had not vetoed the appointment.

We continue to honour George Bell as ecumenist and peacemaker. As Patron of the Arts as Dean of Canterbury he enabled, among other events, the staging of T.S. Eliot’s ‘Murder in the Cathedral’. Later he supported the gift of murals to St Elisabeth’s, Eastbourne, the artist being Hans Feibusch, and also work by the Bloomsbury Group from Charleston on the walls of Berwick Church.

George and Hetty Bell left Chichester in 1958 for retirement in Canterbury but not for long. In that same year on October 3rd he died. Ronald Jasper, his first biographer wrote of George. ‘He will go down in history as one of the special glories of the Church of England: in days to come when the Catholic Church recovers again its lost unities, men will still remember the debt for that recovery owed to George Bell’.

When I lived in the Palace, very few of us could afford a car. One could and gave me lifts to Arundel for Sunday Evening Benediction. Another rose to owning a bubble car. Nevertheless, our parking by the Palace incurred the very voluble opposition of Hetty Bell, a marvellous sort of friendly dragon, whom we all loved. This outspoken lady was complemented by her husband who seemed almost shy at times. When we heard of the Bishop’s departure, some of us clubbed together to buy them a Kenwood food mixer. ‘Oh, excellent!’, was the immediate response of Hetty. ‘George was always a good mixer!’ And so he was, though subsequently I have also read into her remark, intended or not, that, when necessary, Bishop Bell was also prepared to stir things up. But then, in the words of the Prayer Book Collect, we are urged to pray:

‘Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded. ‘ Amen.


Rev Michael Fullagar Michael Fullagar was Rector at Freemantle for nine years, from 1978-87. Before coming to Freemantle he had worked in Zaire.

Priest-in-Charge at Westbury, he was appointed Chaplain to Wycombe General Hospital in 1994.

Now retired Michael helps out in the Benefice of St Mary Hampden Park and St Peter the Hydneye, Eastbourne

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Sept 23 2019 – European Links and the Coburg Conference – Chichester [Oct 10-14 2019]


European Links

The Diocese of Chichester has links with the United Church of Berlin-Brandenburg, the Lutheran Evangelical Church (EKD) District of Bayreuth, Bavaria, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bamberg, Bavaria. Regionalbischof Dr Dorothea Greiner of Bayreuth, and Domkapitular Professor Wolfgang Klausnitzer are Canons of Honour of Chichester Cathedral.

The biennial “Coburg Conference” brings together representatives of the churches of Chichester, Berlin, Bayreuth and Bamberg; and the biennial “Feuerstein Conference” is a meeting of seminarians, theological students and curates. There are musical exchanges and visits involving Chichester Cathedral. There are also partnerships between many parishes in the Diocese and Catholic and Lutheran parishes in Bavaria as well as Berlin and other parts of Germany.

The Cathedral’s link with Chartres was established as part of the civic twinning between the two cities. In 2003 the Bishop of Chartres preached in Chichester Cathedral and the Bishop of Chichester preached in Chartres Cathedral. The Cathedral’s Seffrid Guild made cushions for the chairs of the Bishop and the eucharistic celebrant in Chartres Cathedral. The Dean & Rector of Chartres Cathedral, The Very Reverend Canon Dominique Aubert, is a Canon of Honour of Chichester. As with the German links, there are regular musical visits and exchanges.

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Sept 15 2019 – “Now try saying sorry for your own mistakes, Archbishop…” – Peter Hitchens – Mail on Sunday

“Now try saying sorry for your own mistakes, Archbishop…” – Peter Hitchens – Mail on Sunday


Peter Hitchens

I do worry about Archbishop Justin Welby. 

Does he know anything? Does he understand his own religion? 

There he lies flat on his face in the Indian city of Amritsar, regretting a massacre he didn’t carry out 100 years ago. 

It was pretty thoroughly condemned at the time, and its culprit was forced to resign.

Archbishop Justin Welby laid flat on his face in the Indian city of Amritsar

Christianity is about recognising your own faults, Archbishop. 

Get some practice. Explicitly and fully apologise for your Church’s decision to publicly smear the great, late Bishop George Bell, now shown beyond doubt to be the result of a one-sided, sloppy kangaroo court.

No need to lie on the floor.

Just say sorry for a foolish, unfair mistake, and the vanity that has prevented you from admitting it.


Dear Editor

Earlier this month, at Westminster Abbey, there was a Service of Thanksgiving for the politician and diplomat Lord ‘Paddy’ Ashdown who died last year.

In the Epilogue of his last book – “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1935-1944” – Lord Ashdown concludes:

“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here”

Later next month, in Chichester Cathedral*, some of those questions will be addressed at the Coburg Conference which “will focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s and George Bell’s work, and what it can teach us in the light of today’s political situation”. 

Yours sincerely 

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society


* October 10th to 14th. Venue: 4 Canon Lane (formerly George Bell House), Chichester Cathedral

Dear Editor

Earlier this month, at Westminster Abbey, there was a Service of Thanksgiving for the politician and diplomat Lord ‘Paddy’ Ashdown who died last year.

In the Epilogue of his last book – “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1935-1944” – Lord Ashdown concludes:

“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here”

Later next month, in Chichester Cathedral*, some of those questions will be addressed at the Coburg Conference which “will focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s and George Bell’s work, and what it can teach us in the light of today’s political situation”.


Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society


* October 10th to 14th. Venue: 4 Canon Lane (formerly George Bell House), Chichester Cathedral

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Nicholas Reade on Bishop Bell – Extracts from “Rarely Ordinary Time – Some Memoirs” [Rother 2019]


Bishop George Bell

Nicholas Reade on Bishop Bell – Extracts from “Rarely Ordinary Time – Some Memoirs” [Rother 2019]

Page 30-33

As well as being Chairman of the Liturgical Commission, Dr. Jasper was an historian, and, a few years previously, had written the life of Arthur Cayley Headlam of Gloucester. At that time, we were all awaiting the publication of his biography of George Bell, Bishop of Chichester [1929-58], one of the greatest bishops ever produced by the Church of England, who many expected to become the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1943, when William Temple died suddenly.

Bishop Bell was a courageous church leader, who had helped Jews and others to escape from Nazi Germany, and spoken out in the House of Lords against the indiscriminate bombing of German cities in the Second World War. He was a great ecumenist, theologian, and patron of the arts and a much-loved pastor. Christine had spent her previous summer holidays working on the index of this long-awaited biography.

Dr. Jasper was always very humble and modest about his work and scholarship, and would seldom initiate conversation about what he had achieved. As I became more involved with the family, I sensed that Bishop Bell had almost become part of the household, so the revelation fifty-seven years after his death that the Church had made an apology to one complainant, on the grounds that the Bishop had abused her between sixty-five and seventy-five years ago, seemed utterly unbelievable. 

While the Church has been careful not to say that the Bishop is guilty, it has ruined his reputation. Originally, no information was given as to the process by which the Church had come to this conclusion, other than the statement that ‘experts’ had been involved. Such secrecy was hard to countenance in an age of ‘transparency’. As a family, and in common many others, we expressed our concern in the church press, and have continued to do so. In 2017, the Core Group Report was seriously criticised by Lord Carlile QC in his review into the Church’s handling of the complaint.

Of course, it is right and proper that the Church investigates thoroughly every complaint made against every person and however famous and respected – and however ancient. Given, from the beginning, how shaky and questionable the allegation against Bishop Bell appeared to be, what has greatly concerned me is that the bishops of the Church of England, who, certainly in the past, had a fine reputation for standing against injustice and for being unafraid of making themselves unpopular, have expressed not one word of concern at the destruction of Bishop Bell – with the exception of the Bishop of Peterborough, in a speech in the House of Lords, and, more recently, the Bishop of Chester. A couple of retired bishops have voiced our concerns and given support to the George Bell Group, but our view carries little weight.

An allegation is made against him around sixty-five years later; he is tried by, frankly, what looks like a kangaroo court – with nobody to speak up for him, as Lord Carlile pointed out. Not a single bishop was prepared to query publicly what was being said, and how it was being dealt with. The left-leaning newspapers, always eager to campaign on miscarriages of justice, have given scant support to those of us concerned concerned at the traducing of Bell’s reputation.

It has been left to The Daily Telegraph, The Times and The Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday to write powerfully about the basic principles of justice being ignored by the Church. The Church is the Sacrament of the Kingdom, and becomes what she is meant to be in the celebration of the Eucharist – this keeps me going. It is the institutional church that gets so much wrong (as I know, also, from my own mistakes). I can therefore understand the anger and the real disappointment of the person who told me that ‘the whole episode’ of the church’s handling of the Bishop Bell situation ‘puts you off church-going’.

My first concern as a bishop has always been for the survivor (even though I am aware of falling short some twenty-two years ago, when measured alongside today’s strict and excellent standards); but until it can be proven beyond all reasonable doubt that Bishop Bell abused a child, I will continue to call upon George Bell within the Communion of Saints to pray with me and for me. Meanwhile, I continue to treasure on my bookshelves Bishop Bell’s copy of The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, given to himon 7 October 1957.

Much has changed concerning Bishop Bell’s reputation following further enquiries, and the long awaited report of the Right Worshipful Timothy Briden, Vicar-General of Canterbury. What will not change, is the inadequate original investigation, and that George Bell, one of the ‘saints’ of the Church of England, who is commemorated every year (3rd Oct) in our liturgical calendar as bishop, ecumenist, and peacemaker (1958), should for the last four years have been cast into the wilderness by the Church he served with love and the greatest distinction.

Page 88 & 89

I was sorry, also, to say farewell to Bishop Kenneth Skelton, the Diocesan Bishop. I admired him in many ways; he took time to get to know his clergy and was generous with the time and encouragement he gave to me as a young incumbent. Although he came across as shy initially, I found him very easy – and it helped that he could always see the humour in situations. He had the gift of drawing out the best in people. He was a truly pastoral bishop, who worked collaboratively and strategically. This remarkably gifted man, whose leadership was prophetic, appears to have been forgotten about in the Church of Rngland – possibly because he was a very humble person.

Kenneth had served as Bishop of Matabeleland from 1962 to 1970 in western Rhodesia, where he was deeply respected as a pastor and theologian, and where he championed the cause of the black majority, inevitably clashing with many politicians. he wrote a gripping account of his ministry in Matabeleland, ‘Bishop in Smith’s Rhodesia’ (Mambo Press, 1985). The Law and Order Minister called him ‘The Devil’s Advocate’, and stated that the government was watching him.

He was also dubbed ‘Red Skelton’, after the American comedian. Some commented that Kenneth could best be compared in the Church of England with Bishop George Bell, for both worked tirelessly for social justice and were fearless in speaking out.

Page 111

As with the four other parishes I had worked in, I lost no time in getting down to work – but this was a somewhat larger area and responsibility than I had experienced before; there was a huge in-tray demanding my attention. Every day new issues would hit my desk.

On my first day, I visited Bishop Bell School – now called St. Catherine’s College – the large Church of England secondary school in the Langney area of Eastbourne, opened by H.R.H. Princess Margaret in 1958 and dedicated by Bishop Bell. This was his last act after twenty-nine years as bishop, and he was to die shortly afterwards. He had specifically requested that the school be built in a less affluent and expanding area of Eastbourne. Whenever I entered that building, which also housed his mitre and crozier. I never felt that this courageous and truly great bishop was far away.

Page 261

17. You have a great respect for Bishop George Bell and have expressed concerns about how the allegation made against him has been handled by the Church of England.

Yes indeed – and I am joined in this by many from around the world. Others much better qualified than me to make a judgement have taken the view, from the earliest stages of the allegation, that the evidence was not compelling. I have yet to meet anyone, anywhere, who has looked at the facts available and believes that the handling of this allegation reflects credit on the Church. One comment was ‘what a circus’ – which would be amusing if the case were not so serious. It has of course been extremely difficult to find out much about it, because of the lack of transparency.

To be fair to those who have dealt with this, and in the light of the public reaction, Lord Carlile QC was invited to review how the Church handled the whole matter. His report leaves the Church with the very difficult task of ensuring that we will never again allow such an injustice to occur. I am surprised the Church did not understand that any institution seeking to act as investigator, accuser, judge and jury cannot deliver justice.

I came across a memo, and I cannot remember where it came from, of what Lord Woolton said to Bishop George Bell on 9 February 1944, just before he made his courageous speech against the indiscriminate bombing of German cities: ‘George, there isn’t a soul in this House who doesn’t wish you wouldn’t make the speech you are going to make…you must know that. But I also want to tell you that there isn’t a soul who doesn’t know that the only reason why you make it, is because you believe it is your duty to make it as a Christian priest’.

That is the Bishop Bell we will all remember, along with his many other heroic deeds. It is tragic, as the Bell Group Press Release of 15 December 2017 argued, that the institutional church today deprived this bishop, who has been dead for over sixty years, of the presumption of innocence or of due process…

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Chichester have faced severe criticism for the way in which this whole matter has been handled, and tendered their apologies for it.

Lord Carlile QC, who conducted the 2017 independent investigation into the Bishop Bell allegations, forwarded a Statement to be read out at the Bell Society meeting on 4 February 2019, in the building that used to be called George Bell House, Chichester. It contained the following words:

“I hope that this event will add to the clamour for the Church to admit the awful mistakes it has made in dealing with unsubstantiated allegations against Bishop Bell. His name should never have been publicised before allegations were investigated. The Church should now accept that my recommendations should be accepted in full, and that after due process, however delayed, George Bell should be declared by the Church to be innocent of the allegations made against him”

With the dedication of the Bishop Bell statue in Canterbury Cathedral (where he served as Dean between 1924 and 1929), it is to be hoped that a line may be drawn under this sad episode, banishing any shadow over Bishop Bell’s good name – for surely, his character and all he achieved by the grace of God are conjoined.




“But can you apologise for the massacre of Bishop Bell’s reputation, Archbishop? We can all apologise for something we can do nothing about – that’s easy – but find it hard to apologise for something we can do something about. Matthew 7 v 5 applies to us all” ~ Richard W. Symonds

Welby “can apologise when it suits” ~ Peter Crosskey

“Now try saying sorry for your own mistakes, Archbishop…” – Peter Hitchens – Mail on Sunday

I do worry about Archbishop Justin Welby. 

Does he know anything? Does he understand his own religion? 

There he lies flat on his face in the Indian city of Amritsar, regretting a massacre he didn’t carry out 100 years ago. 

It was pretty thoroughly condemned at the time, and its culprit was forced to resign.

Archbishop Justin Welby laid flat on his face in the Indian city of Amritsar


Archbishop Justin Welby laid flat on his face in the Indian city of Amritsar

Christianity is about recognising your own faults, Archbishop. 

Get some practice. Explicitly and fully apologise for your Church’s decision to publicly smear the great, late Bishop George Bell, now shown beyond doubt to be the result of a one-sided, sloppy kangaroo court.

No need to lie on the floor.

Just say sorry for a foolish, unfair mistake, and the vanity that has prevented you from admitting it.

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September 12 2019 – Times Letter Submission – Coburg, Bonhoeffer, Bell and Ashdown – Unpublished [Amended and re-submitted elsewhere]



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Dear Editor

There is much for which we can be thankful in the life and work of Paddy Ashdown (“Service of thanksgiving for Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon”, Times, Sept 11) – not least his well-researched last book “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1935-1944”.

Lord Ashdown concludes in his Epilogue:

“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here”

Some of those “questions” will be addressed next month at the Coburg Conference in Chichester*, which “will focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s and George Bell’s work, and what it can teach us, in the light of today’s political situation”.

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

* October 10th to 14th 2019. Venue: 4 Canon Lane (formerly George Bell House), Chichester Cathedral Precinct, Chichester, West Sussex




Dear Editor

Earlier this month, at Westminster Abbey, there was a Service of Thanksgiving for the politician and diplomat Lord ‘Paddy’ Ashdown who died last year.

In the Epilogue of his last book – “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1935-1944” – Lord Ashdown concludes:

“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here”

Later next month, in Chichester Cathedral*, some of those questions will be addressed at the ecumenical Coburg Conference, which “will focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s and George Bell’s work, and what it can teach us in the light of today’s political situation”.

Yours sincerely


Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society


* October 10th to 14th 2019. Venue: 4 Canon Lane (formerly George Bell House), Chichester Cathedral Precinct, Chichester, West Sussex

SEPT 13 2019 UPDATE (Evening)

The Coburg Conference (10-14 October) will take place in Chichester Cathedral and  ‘other venues’, such as Vicars’ Hall, but NOT including 4 Canon Lane (George Bell House before 2015 name-change – Ed) ~ Secretary of Chichester Cathedral Precentor


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2014 Impact Case Study – Bishop Bell and “Modern Church History Informing Civic-Religious Culture and Public Commemoration” – Research Excellence Framework [REF] 2014 – Dr Andrew Chandler – University of Chichester


Dr Andrew Chandler – University of Chichester


Modern Church History Informing Civic-Religious Culture and Public Commemoration

Submitting Institution

University of Chichester

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies
Philosophy and Religious Studies: Religion and Religious Studies

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Summary of the impact

Dr Chandler’s publications have been extensively used and discussed nationally and internationally by Church leaders, politicians, journalists, public intellectuals, clergy and laity. They provide informed historical context for discussion of contemporary religion and offer a site for new associations and interactions. They have also impacted on the public commemoration of historical figures who have achieved an international reputation for the religious and moral significance of their life and work. Chandler is Reader in History at the University of Chichester where his position is co-funded by the Chapter of Chichester Cathedral to support his directorship of the George Bell Institute. His research focusses on the importance of national and international politics in the modern British churches, Anglo-German Church relations and ecumenical dialogues more generally.

Underpinning research

Andrew Chandler’s research has achieved its sharpest focus in four areas:

a) the ethics of foreign policy;

b) the office of Archbishops of Canterbury;

c) the development of inter-church relations and

d) the relationship between the Church and intellectual and cultural life.

His research into the controversial public career of Bishop George Bell (1883-1958) has played a key role in exploring the historical relationship between ethics and foreign policy, with particular reference to confrontations between democracy and dictatorship, religious persecution, immigration and maintenance of international law in wartime. A landmark in this work came with the edited collection The Church and Humanity: The Life and Work of George Bell (1883-1958), (published in 2012), an international collaboration integrating the work of scholars from the United Kingdom, Germany, Finland and India, with reflections by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. A further study, `Christian Ethics and the Crisis of Civilization: Bishop George Bell and the Second World War’, contributed to UNESCO supported publication Ethics and the Military (Peter Stone (ed.), UNESCO/Boydell & Brewer, 2011), pp. 55-69. The findings of this article showed the continuing significance of Bell’s interventions in the House of Lords between 1939 and 1945, particularly in the public debate about obliteration bombing and the preservation of cultural monuments. Chandler’s contribution to the 2009 Coburg ecumenical conference led to the publication of a further article, `The Little Blue Notebook: The Piety of George Bell, 1883-1958′, in a collection of studies edited by Bishop Dorothea Greiner and others for a broad church readership, Geistliche Begleitung in evangelischer Perspective; Modelle und Personen der Kirchengeschichte (Leipzig, 2013).

In addition, Chandler’s work has made available new archival findings on three Archbishops of Canterbury: Lang (1928-42), Temple (1942-4) and Fisher (1945-61), situating the office and its holders in their historical context. An extensive research essay, `The judgement of an archbishop: Cosmo Gordon Lang and British Foreign Policy, 1928-1939′, appeared in Keith Robbins and John Fisher (eds.) Religion and Diplomacy: Religion and British Foreign Policy, 1815 to 1941 (Republic of Letters, 2010), pp. 183-224. At large, such work has been closely related to his chairmanship of the international advisory board which oversees the Ashgate Archbishops of Canterbury series, a work which will seek to provide not only scholars and students but church figures and lay readers across the public with the first library of studies of all of the archbishops. Chandler’s 2012 co-authored Archbishop Fisher re-evaluates the career of the former Archbishop of Canterbury in the context of ecclesiastical, political and social reform and in the evolving landscape of the international Anglican Communion.

More recently, Chandler’s commitment to providing the churches with new materials for debate has extended to the publication of the confidential reports sent by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative in Rome during the Second Vatican Council, 1962-4. Chandler joined the University of Chichester as a senior lecturer on 1/7/2007, and was promoted to Reader in 2009.

References to the research

1. `The judgement of an archbishop: Cosmo Gordon Lang and British Foreign Policy, 1928- 1939′, in Keith Robbins and John Fisher (eds.) Religion and Diplomacy: Religion and British Foreign Policy, 1815 to 1941 (Republic of Letters, 2010).

2. `Christian Ethics and the Crisis of Civilization: Bishop George Bell and the Second World War’, in Peter Stone (ed.) Ethics and the Military (UNESCO/Boydell & Brewer, 2011), pp. 55-69.

3. Andrew Chandler, ed., The Church and Humanity: The Life and Work of George Bell, 1883- 1958 (Ashgate, 2012).

4. Andrew Chandler and David Hein, Archbishop Fisher: Church, State and World (Ashgate, 2012).

5. Observing Vatican II: The Reports of Bernard Pawley to Archbishop Ramsey, 1961-1965 (Cambridge University Press, 2013)

6. “Adam von Trott abroad”(2011), paper (10 pages) presented at the conference to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Adam von Trot organised by Protestant Academy in Berlin http://www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk/page/rhodesscholarshipsgermany#sthash.zaEwpWSd.dpuf http://files.rhodes.gethifi.com/CHANDLERt.pdf

Details of the impact

Chandler’s research enriches the intellectual life of the church and provides informed historical context for those wanting to know more. It is read and used by church people across the traditions, as well as wider general audiences interested in modern Church history in Britain, Western and Eastern Europe and North America.

It (i) informs debate inside the church community and guides outside commentators. The Church press and other church writers and commentators regularly respond to Chandler’s research in print and online publication. Writers for nationally and internationally circulated church press discuss and underline the value of his research. They disseminate his findings to their readers some of whom have in turn blogged, responded or cited him in their public engagements. His research is taken as an independent voice inside the community of church thinkers. Notably, media groups used him and mediated his research knowledge on Archbishop Fisher during the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation in 2013. Here Chandler explained the role of the Church in that event, showing how the relationship between Church and State works, and provided context on the Archbishop’s precise role.

Further evidence of Chandler’s influence and impact in debates within and across denominations include his work on the Second Vatican Council. Chandler’s collaboration with Chichester Cathedral produced a new book, Observing Vatican II for the Royal Historical Society and a conference in June 2013 that brought together 15 Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Reformed churches and Quakers to debate the projects outcomes. Much of this was chaired by the Bishop of Wakefield and Chairman of the Anglican Centre in Rome, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten. A number of those present were representing ACTA (A Call to Action), a group within English Catholicism pressing for the reform of the Church. The meeting debated the task of reforming the Church and reviewing its relationship with the contemporary world.

The research has also (ii) informed public commemoration, notably of internationally important figures whose lives blended moral understanding with political action. In 2008, Chandler’s research proved fundamental in shaping the fiftieth anniversary of Bishop Bell’s death. Here the public impact of his work combined local, national and international dimensions simultaneously. Chandler was responsible for inviting international speakers to a public conference in Chichester which combined the University, the Cathedral and the Diocese (60 delegates, 5 countries including bishops and leaders of independent foundations). He co-organised, with the Dean of Chichester, and inaugurated a series of six cathedral lectures given by politicians, church leaders including Frank Field MP, Sir Christopher Frayling (Chairman of Arts Council England at the time), Dame Mary Tanner (a President of the World Council of Churches) and theologians through the year (attended by public audiences of between 250 and 300 people). The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, commented on Chandler’s inaugural lecture, `Andrew Chandler spoke with great insight‘. Chandler also contributed to a study course marking Bell’s Anniversary and that was used in Cathedral study days.

In addition, he played a leading advisory role working with Lord Lloyd of Berwick and Professor Emeritus Paul Foster (Chichester) in the exhibition of Bell portraits in the House of Lords formally opened at a reception of c. 80 senior politicians, peers, church leaders and public figures (including Geoffrey Howe, John Hall (Dean of Westminster), Dr Rowan Williams, and Bischof Jurgen Johannesdotter). Chandler’s account of Bell is a point of public reference in commemoration and debate on the Bishop’s life, exemplified most recently in his extensive contribution to Radio 4’s Great Lives programme on Bell (2/4/13). Peter Hitchens (the guest) confirmed Chandler’s `major part’ in the programme. In short, when Bell is discussed in the public sphere Chandler’s research is a framing and informing vector. His short popular publication on Bell (informed by research listed above) was described by the Church Times as `just what is needed’.

Chandler’s knowledge of Anglo-German relations informed the 2009 anniversary of Adam von Trott’s birth in Berlin (The initial concept of this event arose from discussions between Director of Krzyżowa memorial, Annemarie Franke, and Director of The Evangelische Akademie, Ludwig Melhorn in Berlin in 2008). A conference of c.100 people at the Akademie (Chandler, the only British speaker and the only one to talk about Trott’s relationship with Britain during the Third Reich) drew together members of the public, family members, young volunteers from Germany and Poland, politicians (e.g. the State Secretary) and senior commentators for an extended exploration of the legacies of resistance, a meeting which culminated in a widely attended (and reported) public service in central Berlin. Forwertz, a documentary film company, worked closely with Chandler for two educational films on Von Trott and Von Moltke: and we understand that the latter film is screened as part of the training of German military pastors.

Chandler’s influence on the space where commemoration and ethics align came again in 2009 when he instigated the only public commemoration in Britain of the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, working in collaboration with the Chapter at Westminster Abbey, the embassy of the United States and supporters in Parliament and also leading members of the American Lincoln Bicentennial Commission in Washington DC. This event became a significant affirmation of a progressive Anglo-American affinity, beginning with a special choral evensong at the Abbey itself, a wreath-laying ceremony at the Lincoln statute in Parliament Square, a public lecture and debate in St Margaret’s, Westminster (led by Lords Hurd, Owen and Bingham and attended by c. 150 people). In July 2012 Chandler was invited to join with Professor Sir Diarmaid McCulloch, Oxford, Professor Eamon Duffy, Cambridge, and Dr Jeremy Morris, Cambridge, to advise the Chapter on the role that historical research might play in the future life and work of the Abbey.

Sources to corroborate the impact

  1. Letters of confirmation of impact on file from: Dr Anthony Cane (Dean of Chichester Cathedral); the Rt Revd Graham James (Bishop of Norwich); Ms Eileen Mackevich (Executive Director of the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission); and Annemarie Franke (Director of Krzyżowa Memorial).
  2. Review and comment of Chandler’s research in the theological press demonstrates an intellectual influence/point of discussion. EG: The Church Times made the release of Chandler’s co-authored book on Archbishop Fisher their cover story at the time of the appointment of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, publishing a long extract (14/9/2012);The Church Times reviewed his appearance on Great Lives (12/4/13).
    http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2013/12-april/reviews/radio/was-bell-beastly; and again in The Church Times Alan Wilkinson described Chandlers’ 2008 short book on Bell as `just what is needed’ (9/1/2009). The Anglo-Catholic magazine New Directions reviewed the book as `immensely accessible to a wider audience’. Meanwhile, the Church of England Newspaper covered his monograph on Fisher. His work, `Piety and Provocation was reviewed in The Tablet in 2008. See: (http://archive.thetablet.co.uk/article/6th-december-2008/25/speaking-up-for-christian-civilisation).
  3. Bloggers and commentators, reviewing, debating and commentating on Chandler’s work online include: http://eurobishop.blogspot.co.uk/ (blog of Bishop David Hamid); and for reviews of Chandler’s work, see also, Jesus4u.co.uk,
    And, similarly, Frank Field, Saints and Heroes: Inspiring Politics (London: SPCK, 2010) uses and debates Chandler’s work in chapters 6-7 (pp. 82-100).
  4. Local Radio Interviews at time of Queen’s Coronation: Chandler gave 8 interviews in total to various local radio from Solent to Northampton with a combined audience of between 0.5 and 1M). He explained Fisher’s role as Archbishop of Canterbury.
  5. Bell Anniversary commemorations:
    Dr Rowan Williams plaudit
    `http://rowanwilliams.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/1348/university-of-chichester-bishop-george-bell-lecture `George Bell, 1883-1958 A Bishop to Remember, A Study Course for His Diocese to mark the 50th anniversary of his death’. See sources and
    acknowledgements,http://www.chichestercathedral.org.uk/dyn/_assets/_pdfs/BellStudyCourse.A4pdf.pdf; Bell Exhibition, House of Lords, see: http://www.parliament.uk/visiting/exhibitions-and-events/exhibitions/bishop-bell/
  6. Great Lives: Radio 4 March 2013, Mr Hitchens has acknowledged Chandler’s major part in the programme in his blog entry of 29/3/13.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/siteusage/#downloads (Radio 4 March 2013, Audience reach of 10,978,000 (Rajar.co.uk figures); on average 130,270 downloads per month across whole series (Based on BBC data)).
  7. Anniversary book on Bell: Andrew Chandler, Piety and Provocation: A Study of George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, 1929-1958 (Humanitas Subsidia Series, 2008). Print run of 1000.
  8. Helmuth James von Motlke (30 minute DVD) Forwertz, Düsseldorf; Adam von Trott zu Solz (40 minute DVD) Forwertz, Düsseldorf. See, http://www.geschichte-begreifen.info/de/helmuth-james-von-moltke.html
  9. 200th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln, Westminster Abbey, Professor Richard Carwardine lecture: “I also want to pay a special and warm tribute to Dr Andrew Chandler, Director of the George Bell Institute at the University of Chichester, whose initiative this has been.”http://static.westminster-abbey.org/assets/pdf_file/0015/23046/AL-the-Mission-of-America.pdf
  10. Supporting testimonials on request: the Rt Hon Frank Field, MP; Lord Lloyd of Berwick; Rt Revd Stephen Platten, Bishop of Wakefield; and Very Revd John Hall, Dean of Westminster.
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Sept 5 2019 – “Sir Cliff Richard accepts £2m from BBC towards legal costs” – AOL/PA


Sir Cliff Richard accepts £2m from BBC towards legal costs


Sir Cliff Richard has agreed a final settlement with the BBC and will receive around £2 million towards his legal costs.

The singer, 78, sued the broadcaster over its coverage of the police search of his Berkshire home in 2014.

The judge ruled in the singer’s favour last year, awarding him £210,000 in damages.

Sir Cliff Richard with Gloria Hunniford, during his case against the BBC
Sir Cliff Richard with Gloria Hunniford, during his case against the BBC (Dominic Lipinski/PA)


Sir Cliff told the trial he had spent more than £3 million on the case.

Following the final settlement, a spokesman for the singer said he was still “substantially out of pocket”.

A statement said: “Sir Cliff incurred these costs over a five-year period as a direct result of the actions of the BBC and South Yorkshire Police.

“He is of course glad that an agreement about costs has now been reached.

“Ultimately, however, Sir Cliff is substantially out of pocket (a seven figure sum), not least because there are costs that he has not sought to recover from the parties.”

Sir Cliff Richard
Sir Cliff Richard (Kirsty O’Connor)

The BBC also paid £315,000 to South Yorkshire Police for legal costs.

A BBC spokeswoman said: “We are pleased that Sir Cliff Richard, the BBC and South Yorkshire Police have reached an amicable settlement of Sir Cliff Richard’s legal costs.

“The BBC’s costs are within the scope of our legal insurance. This brings the legal process to its conclusion.”

The pop star has previously told how the trauma of BBC coverage of the police search of his home, following a claim of historical sexual assault, left him emotionally drained.

Sir Cliff was not arrested and did not face charges.

He later said: “They smeared my name around the world.”

He added: “I’ve had four terrible years and it was horrific… I would never wish that on my worst enemy. It was tumultuous, horrific, emotionally draining, traumatic.”

Earlier this year, Sir Cliff launched a petition so that those accused of sexual offences remain anonymous until charged.

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Sept 5 2019 – Bishop Bell and “Human respect trumps justice in persecution of Cardinal Pell” – ‘Lifesite’ – Joseph Shaw



Human respect trumps justice in persecution of Cdl. Pell

September 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — As I have written before, the conviction of Cardinal George Pell, despite being upheld on appeal, is difficult to understand. On the one hand, as Pell’s legal team painstakingly explained, it was essentially impossible for Pell to have abused two choristers (as alleged) in a sacristy, while still vested, without anyone noticing, at a time when he would actually have been outside the front of the cathedral talking to Mass-goers. On the other hand, the only evidence against him is the word of one accuser; the other alleged victim denied that the abuse took place.

However the jury and two court of appeal came to their decisions, doubts will continue to be voiced, especially in light of the carefully argued dissenting opinion by one of the appeal-court judges.

In England we have been through the whole range of emotions about the credibility of alleged victims of sexual abuse, particularly in the context of the alleged ‘VIP pedophile ring’. The accuser, whose testimony was prematurely described by the police as ‘credible and true’, is now beginning a prison sentence of 18 years for perverting the course of justice. (He has appealed.)

A parallel case arose in the context of the late George Bell, an Anglican Bishop of Chichester. Bell’s posthumous reputation was destroyed by a single accuser who was paid compensation by the Church of England. Bell’s supporters demanded an investigation into the matter, and reports commissioned by the Church of England have cast doubt on the credibility of the accusations.

‘Believing the victim’ sounds attractive, until you realize that until matters are investigated, and ideally tested in court, it is impossible to say who the victim is. It is facile to talk of ‘striking a balance’ between accusers and the accused. What is needed, instead, is a degree of moral seriousness about these cases, which has not always been on display.

Terrible cases of abuse have not been promptly or properly investigated because of concerns about damaging race relations. Again, the local prominence of an abuser has stifled investigations. In the cases noted earlier, it was political or public relations concerns which led to accusations being investigated, and even individuals condemned, without sufficient scrutiny. The problem in all cases is that a concern for justice is being brushed aside by a concern about human respect, public opinion, and emotions. Past failures in one direction lead to new failures in the opposite direction, because instead of coming to see the moral seriousness of these cases, those in authority were too concerned about looking good in the newspapers.

It is not a question of being harsh or lenient. It is a question of being genuinely open to the truth, however painful that might prove to be.


Titus Trust, John Smyth, and Jonathan Fletcher

Titus Trust, John Smyth, and Jonathan Fletcher

The Titus Trust published this statement yesterday:

John Smyth: statement on settlement

The Trustees of The Titus Trust wish to make this statement now that a settlement has been reached with three men who have suffered for many years because of the appalling abuse of John Smyth.

We are devastated that lives have been blighted by a man who abused a position of trust and influence to inflict appalling behaviour on others, and we have written to those concerned to express our profound regret at what happened and also to apologise for any additional distress that has been caused by the way The Titus Trust has responded to this matter.
The emergence of details about the abuse by John Smyth and Jonathan Fletcher has caused us to reflect deeply on our current culture and the historic influences upon us. Although the culture of the camps that The Titus Trust runs today has changed significantly from the Scripture Union camps of the late 70s and early 80s we still want to look hard at our traditions and practices and to invite feedback from those currently involved and also those who are no longer involved.
This reflection includes a number of elements and has led, or is leading to, the following actions:

  • A full independent review of our safeguarding practices took place in 2018 by thirtyone:eight and the recommendations have been implemented in 2019 to ensure that we operate best practice across all our camps to protect the children and adults involved in our activities. Among other things, this has included receiving training in pastoral care and supporting survivors of abuse.
  • An internal Cultural Review has been carried out that considered aspects of our traditions and practices and identified risks to and ways of building healthy cultures across our leaders teams.
  • An independent Cultural Review will begin shortly which will include inviting feedback from a wide range of individuals and organisations to enable us to look honestly at our culture and its impact on individual behaviour.

The Trustees regret that we have not been able to speak out while the legal situation has been ongoing and want to take the opportunity now to listen well to people’s experiences of our camps to inform our future planning. We would therefore invite anyone who would like to share their experience to email safeguarding@titustrust.org.  If anyone wishes to contribute to the forthcoming Cultural Review, we invite them to be in touch too, so we can pass their details to the review team once their work gets underway.

We are sorry that the Titus Trust’s earlier public statements were inadequate as explanations of the relevant facts and history and that some of the language the Trust has used in public statements about these matters has prompted anger on the part of some survivors and others. We recognise the impact that this guarded use of language has caused, and apologise if this has contributed in any way to the anguish experienced by the survivors and their families.

The Titus Trust is co-operating fully with the Review into John Smyth led by Keith Makin. Extensive documentation has been provided to the Reviewers and the Trust has met with them and expects to do so again to further assist in the Review.

Today, the following statement has been issued in response:

Statement from victims of the Titus Trust and John Smyth QC
4th April 2020

We call for the Titus Trust to cease its activities immediately, and to disband.

Yesterday the Titus Trust issued a statement following the settlement of three civil claims in respect of abuse by John Smyth QC. The statement comes no less than eight years after a victim of Smyth bravely came forward to inform the trust of the appalling legacy of abuse upon which their organisation is built. It is an astonishing 38 years since the leaders of the Iwerne network were first made aware of the criminal nature of this horrific abuse.

When the abuse came to light, the trustees of the Titus Trust, who now run the Iwerne network, did everything they could to protect their own interests. They did not offer care and support to the victims. They refused to cooperate with an independent inquiry. If the Titus Trust had been open and transparent with what they knew years ago, John Smyth could have been brought to justice. Instead they repeatedly blanked the victims, refusing to speak with us and denying any responsibility. Perhaps we should not have expected them to act with care or candour, since some of most senior members of the network had been complicit in concealing the abuse for 38 years.

In the face of this intransigence we felt compelled to take action against the Titus Trust, so that they would be forced to confront their responsibilities. Even so, the trust has spent eye-watering sums of money fighting our claims – many times the amount they have offered us in settlement.  We are pleased that they have finally issued a limited apology for their recent behaviour, but we note that none of those responsible has resigned. They have not acknowledged the historic cover-up. There is no evidence that the culture of moral superiority, exclusivity and secrecy that has pervaded the network for decades has changed in any way.

Those of us who suffered as victims of John Smyth through our contacts with the Iwerne network simply want to uncover the truth. We want an accurate narrative of the abuse and its cover-up, not just for our own sakes, but for the sake of scores of victims of Smyth in Africa, and for the sake of those young people who even today come under the toxic influence of this network. John Smyth is only one of several abusers known to us who have been closely associated with the Iwerne camps network over many years. Events of recent years lead us to believe that there are still some within the Titus network who value their own reputations more than they care about the children they work with. Shockingly, some of those are ordained clergy in the Church of England. Such attitudes should have no place in any organisation working with children.

The Titus Trust has consistently said that they were not prepared to take part in the Church of England’s Makin Review into John Smyth whilst litigation was outstanding. Now that this settlement has been reached, that excuse is gone, and we urge the trustees and all those involved in the Iwerne network to cooperate fully with the Makin Review, and the other reviews being held into abuse by John Smyth and Jonathan Fletcher.

A culture that has resisted reform in the face of overwhelming evidence of damage over many years is beyond reform. It is our wholehearted belief that in the light of these events the Titus Trust and its work should cease immediately.

To those within and beyond the Titus/Iwerne network who have come to understand that they too are victims of abuse, we urge you to take courage and seek help outside the network.

Issued on behalf of victims of the Titus Trust and John Smyth QC
For more information, contact Andrew Graystone
07772 710090


Fr. Dean Henley

This week’s Private Eye details the dreadful treatment meted out to sub-postmasters by the Post Office and how the organisation (led by an Anglican priest for much of the duration of the debacle) spent tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money trying to thwart the claimants in the courts; losing spectacularly with an excoriating judgement. Here the Titus Trust have tried to deny Smyth’s victims justice and it seems some of the trustees are Anglican clerics. Their hubris is breathtaking and I hope that they are considering their position. Why does the Titus Trust only ‘help’ privately educated children… Read more »


It seems that most organisations which have harboured abusers in the past believe that they have changed so that any abuse is quickly detected and efficiently dealt with.

I wonder whether that is really the case because in strongly hierarchical organisations it is still hard for people to come forward and there is still a strong self-defence mechanism.

Richard W. Symonds
Looks to me like this official public apology from Titus Trust is a classic case of ‘burying bad news’ while the thinking populace is being distracted by the Virus crisis – except the victims.

I can’t say I’m surprised – damage limitation. The Church of England hierarchy [+ Archbishop Welby] may well be considering the same kind of apology regarding Bishop George Bell.

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