14 December 2017 4:32 PM
An apology and explanation for my recent absence from here
I must apologise for having been so inactive here for the past few days, but the long struggle for justice for the late Bishop George Bell is now approaching its endgame.
This morning (Thursday 14th December) the following appeared on the website ‘Christian Today’.
….and I believe it releases me from any embargo on revealing (as I have known for some days) that the Church of England will at last be revealing the details of Lord Carlile’s review of the case tomorrow morning, Friday 15th December 2017, 69 days after it received the report, and more than two years after it first published unproven allegations that George Bell was a paedophile, as if they were the proven truth.
The ‘Christian Today’ report certainly did not come from me, and I would not wish to anticipate either its contents or the interpretation of it, until I have seen them myself.
I am most grateful for the support and encouragement (and tolerance, and patience) I have had from many readers here in what must have seemed, to many of you, like a Quixotic and indeed esoteric expedition into a strange and unknown region of public life.
It was an expedition I never intended to embark on. It has been my Dreyfus case. In fact I was taken wholly by surprise by the molten fury that came unbidden to my hands and tongue, when the allegations against Bishop Bell were first displayed as if they were proven fact. I had not known I had such wrath within me. It has not left me since.
My anger was only increased by the impossibility, to begin with, of getting major media even to publish letters criticising their treatment of the matter.
Eventually, my activities put me into contact with an astonishing group of men and women, some church people, some academics, some citizens of the lovely old city of Chichester (in which I long ago spent some formative and influential years more than half a century ago, and first faintly heard the name ‘George Bell’, not knowing what it would in the end mean to me), some lawyers, retired policemen and judges, some who had known George Bell in person, and regarded him as the living embodiment of John Bunyan’s Mr Valiant-for-Truth, the character in The Pilgrim’s Progress we would surely all most long to be, if we could.
Is there anyone who is not moved by Mr Valiant-for-Truth’s words before dying, some of which are incised into the stones of the lovely, supremely English war memorial gardens at Christ Church in Oxford, Bell’s old college (where he has never ceased to be honoured).
‘Then, said he, I am going to my Father’s; and though with great difficulty I have got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought His battles who will now be my rewarder.’
So tonight I sit here on the edge of success or failure, and hope it has been worth it, and that justice will tomorrow flow down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. But if they do, it will only be so because men and women have fought to make it so.