January 22 2018 – “What does the Archbishop think he is doing?” – Peter Hitchens – Mail Online

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2018/01/what-does-the-archbishop-think-he-is-doing-.html

22 January 2018 5:23 PM

What Does the Archbishop Think He is Doing?

I cannot say that I care much who occupies the throne of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Church of England, for me, has a ghostly existence in poetry, music, arches and stained glass, quite independent of the banal persons who tend to hold this post. It’s not for me to go round calling for resignations or such things. My only concern with the man who currently holds this office is the pointless, easily cured injustice he has done to the great George Bell, to those who rightly revere him for Christian self-sacrifice and true moral and civil courage over great issues,, and to his surviving niece, Mrs Barbara Whitley. I know this is an unpopular preoccupation, obscure to many of my readers. But it is based on a universal, simple desire for justice to be done and truth told, wherever possible.

But those who do care about the C of E’s temporal structures and authority  must surely be worried about the behaviour of the current Archbishop, the Most Revd Justin Welby. Mr Welby will not climb down from his assertion that a ‘significant cloud’ still hangs over the name of George Bell. Why not? What good does this stance do him or the Christian faith? What, in short, is he on about?

On Monday afternoon, after being the target of powerful criticism by a group of eminent historians, and then by a group of eminent theologians, he issued an astonishingly unyielding statement on the subject.

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/achbishop.of.canterbury.stands.by.statement.saying.there.is.a.significant.cloud.over.bishop.george.bells.name/124313.htm

Yet I can find nothing in this text to justify his position. He refers repeatedly to the wholly different case of a living Bishop, Peter Ball, convicted beyond doubt, in an open court of law, of sexual offences.

In an astonishing passage, he responds to the concerns of the historians, who are urging him to reconsider, by ludicrously comparing them to emotional defenders of Ball. He says ‘As in the case of Peter Ball, and others, it is often suggested that what is being alleged could not have been true, because the person writing knew the alleged abuser and is absolutely certain that it was impossible for them to have done what is alleged. As with Peter Ball this sometimes turns out to be untrue, not through their own fault or deceit but because abuse is often kept very secret. The experience of discovering feet of clay in more than one person I held in profound respect has been personally tragic.’

What sort of non-logic is this? It may *have been* suggested, before Ball was convicted and sent to prison, that what was alleged could not have been true. But is there any serious person (as serious as, for instance, Sir Ian Kershaw) who is suggesting it now? Who? How can Mr Welby possibly compare opinions held mistakenly before a fair trial and conviction showed them to be wrong, and opinions held where there has not been and cannot be any such trial, and where the evidence against the accused is solitary and weak?

The police arrested Ball, the CPS charged him, and Ball, who was able to ensure that he was professionally defended throughout, and was able to avail himself of the presumption of innocence, eventually pleaded guilty in court to serious charges and was sent to prison.  I have not since heard it suggested by any of his former defenders that he is innocent of the charges he himself admitted. So those who may have found it difficult to believe that Peter Ball was a wicked abuser were shown to have been wrong in a fair and due process.

How on earth can Mr Welby equate this case with that of George Bell, who faced one uncorroborated accusation made years after his death, and was then condemned without any defence by what Lord Carlile found to be a sloppy and inadequate process in which key evidence undermining the accusation was not even seen by some of those involved, and in which key witnesses were neither found nor interviewed.

 

Mr Welby, in his very thin responses to the Carlile report, has never really addressed this. He has said that the report didn’t rule on Bell’s guilt or innocence, an almost childishly absurd response,  since Mr Welby had told Lord Carlile in his terms of reference that he could not rule on this. In any case, Lord Carlile has repeatedly said since, in response to media questions, that no court would have convicted George Bell on the evidence which has been produced against him. It is clear that had Lord Carlile been asked to rule on George Bell’s guilt or innocence, he would have pronounced him ‘not guilty’.  So what, precisely is the evidence on which the Archbishop of Canterbury, supposedly spiritual leader of millions, guardian of the foundations of truth and justice, maintains that there is still a ‘cloud’over George Bell’s name? Does he have second sight?   Does he know something he is not telling us? If so (though I cannot see how this can be so) , why will he not say what it is? If not, why is he of all people exempted from the good rule, surely Biblical in origin, that if you cannot prove that a man is guilty, he is innocent and you shouldn’t go round saying that he is guilty just because in some way it suits you to say so. Some miserable rumour-monger in a pub might be entitled to drone that there is ‘no smoke without fire’, but not the inheritor of the See of Saint Augustine, I think. I doubt Mr Welby is familiar with the catechism in his own Church’s Book of Common Prayer, it having fallen rather out of use since that Church became happy and clappy. But I am sure the Lambeth library can find him a copy, and point him to the passage in which the candidate for confirmation is asked ‘What is thy duty towards thy neighbour’? I commend it to him.

He has rejected one of the report’s conclusions on how the case should have been handled. But I have never seen him acknowledge the Carlile report’s clear demonstration that the secret trial of George Bell was what it was, a badly-run, one-sided mess which failed to find key evidence or witnesses, and even failed to tell some of its members about key evidence which greatly undermined the accusation.

Yet Mr Welby continues to describe this marsupial outfit as if it was serious, saying ‘The Diocese of Chichester was given legal advice to make a settlement based on the civil standard of proof, the balance of probability. It was not alleged that Bishop Bell was found to have abused on the criminal standard of proof, beyond reasonable doubt. The two standards should not be confused.’

Indeed they should not, and it was the Chichester diocese which deliberately confused them when it claimed (wrongly) that Bishop Bell would have been arrested if alive, so unsurprisingly poisoning many trusting and naive minds against George Bell.  But in fact, as was discussed at length when this subject was raised in a House of Lords debate attended by some of the country’s most eminent lawyers, the civil standard of proof requires that both sides are properly considered. In civil cases, plaintiff and defendant have lawyers and the chance to plead and the secret trial of George Bell did not even contain anyone arguing for his side. The idea that this farce met even the civil standard of proof is unsustainable, and I am amazed that anyone who has read the Carlile report could persist with this nonsense. It was one of the Church’s very early attempts to defend itself, back in 2016. It didn’t work then, when we still didn’t know how bad the secret trial had been. It certainly doesn’t work now.

We have all done wrong things. Some of them are irrevocable, and we can make no restitution to those whom we have hurt, in which case we shall just have to hope for mercy.

But where we *can* put right what we have done, things are different. I am haunted and much influenced by this passage of scripture. I commend it to the Archbishop. It begins with the 25th verse of the fifth chapter of the Gospel according to St Matthew. The words are those of Our Lord himself, and I take them to mean that when we have been found to be wrong, we do all we can to put that wrong right while we can, for if we do not we condemn ourselves to a long and needless grief which can only be expiated and assuaged at a far greater cost. He knows who the judge is in this reference, I think.

‘Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.’

Comments

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I see Mr Hitchens has exceeded the 500-word limit (smiley). I’ll try not to!

I’d like to make several points, but first let me assure Mr Hitchens a) that I do not want to draw attention to myself, b) that I did not mention the “significant cloud”, and c) that in my opinion, if I had to express one, I would say that I think it most likely that Bishop Bell is innocent. Just to make that quite clear.

My second point is that Mr Hitchens apparently fails to understand that I am trying to help – with constructive criticism. I’m pointing out a flawed argument which I think Mr Hitchens would do well to discard since false arguments can be counter-productive.

Now to Mr Hitchens’ response. I realize he may have written and compiled in haste since he probably has more important things to do. And I have read it with some care. But I must admit to having difficulty in sorting out what the Archbishop stated, what Mr Hitchens comments are and what the historians are saying. There are various single and multiple asterisks and one or two inverted commas, but – please – is it possible that Mr Hitchens could make this a little clearer for anyone as dim as myself? – My thanks in advance.

Now to the substance of Mr Hitchens’ response: Nowhere has he shown that I am wrong to point out that the Archbishop has made a clear and correct statement about the way some people think a person may be “too good” to be guilty of a crime, and that in some cases they may be right, but, for example, in the case of Bishop Ball they were wrong. The Archbishop is stating a fact, and there is nothing “non-logical” about it. He is not comparing the case of Bishop Ball to that of Bishop Bell, nor comparing the two Bishops to each other. even if some people would like to believe so. — Otherwise I agree in essence with what Mr HItchens says.

I cannot comment fully on the response of the historians since I’m not familiar with all the details. They may intimate that they know better than the Archbishop, but whether they do or not is a matter of opinion. They appear to me to be saying that the Church is upholding the allegation – but is that really so? Or is the church – is the Archbishop – rather refraining from making any judgement, (in the spirit of Christ on the Mount and as any historian should do if there is no evidence) but pointing out instead that allegations may be true – or false. (At the time they were made, it seems some people did actually believe them.)

As to the “significant cloud” – if all that is meant by that is that “mud sticks” and there will always be someone who says “Ah, yes, another priest” and see a blot on the Bishope reputation, then that is in order. If however the Archbishop means something going beyond that, then he is wrong. Whatever, it is a very unfortunate choice of words.

I’ve written this in haste, so please excuse errors – and I haven’t counted the words.

Well done Mr Hitchens on your valiant quest to clear the name of a great man. I wouldn’t like to pass judgement on Justin Welby but will only say his attitude on this matter and others strikes me as not being particulary christian.

@Mr Bunker 23rd January at 12:24PM

“I think that some contributors to the blog “know” or at least think they know that Bishop Bell cannot be guilty – “because he was a good man”.

That is far too vague and insubstantial a suggestion, Mr Bunker. Please name these contributors, identify their posts, by date and time, and give the verbatim quotes, which lead you to such a conclusion.

It seems that the Archbishop is, or has been battling on several fronts, with regard to the C of Es involvement, or non involvement in matters of sexual impropriety. A recent New York Times article entitled “Doubts Grow Over Archbishop’s Account of When He Knew of Abuse”, and another article in the Guardian, concerning the Jimmy Savile affair seem to add to the feeling that all is not as it should be.

I’m just re-reading our host’s ‘Abolition of Britain’, Chapter 10, on Mrs White’s Bill, of 1951, which allowed for divorce after 7 years separation. Attacked for its own criticism of the Bill, the C of E responded with the following question:

‘Whoever succeeded in raising the moral tone of any society without causing the frustration of some natural desires, and the hardship of having to forgo them?’

Who, in the C of E, would have the courage to pose such a question now?

Re: Mr Bunker | 23 January 2018 at 12:24 PM

‘… I think some contributors to the blog “know” (or at least think they know) that Bishop Bell cannot be guilty – “because he was a good man”.’

What you think is interesting, Mr Bunker, and why you think it a mystery. It seems to me that most contributors here know that Bishop Bell is not guilty because there is no, none, nil, nichts, nix, nought, nothing, zero, zilch, nada, zip, diddly-squat by way of corroborating or other evidence to suggest that an event or events alleged to have occurred in the middle of the last century actually did occur. Case dismissed, as they say in the movies.

The good name of the alleged perpetrator has no relevance to his guilt or otherwise; he simply has not been shown to have been guilty of anything. His good name has likely rallied more to his defence than would have been the case for someone more obscure, but the principle is the same and is worth defending for its own sake.

We can pity poor Archbishop Justin Welby in his “personal tragedy” of having been an inaccurate judge of character. I hope it is not due to similar disappointing experience, Mr Bunker, that your thinking is on the same lines as his. In your considered opinion, does a cloud, significant or otherwise, still hang over the name of Bishop George Bell?

Sirin,

I agree. The statement seems suffused with a sense of Bell’s guilt. This seems to motivate the sheer belligerence and inability to consider properly the objections made. I can only put it down to Welby succumbing to a contemporary, ideological position on abuse and assault claims.

You have to understand the cultural context here. The archbishop is just being as trendy and right-on as one would expect from an Anglican prelate. We live in a cultural climate where sexual abuse and assault accusations are increasingly treated as convictions, where we’re told alleged victims (especially women) must be believed. This is the case even when, as in some of the recent allegations, they don’t seem to amount to actual assault or even harassment, even on the worst interpretation. And it is even the case when the allegation seems dubious.

Still, for me, the issue is not so much the term cloud as the term significant. There was this accusation, which could be true or could be false – it is impossible for us now to say either way. I think it would be inaccurate to say there was specific evidence or reason to distrust this allegation, anymore than there is to think it true. It is really a matter of suspending judgment in this case (and many others). Any historian looking into Bell’s life in later ages would have to consider it in just this way. You could call that a cloud, although I wouldn’t say it was significant, given that it is a single, uncorroborated account. The problem with the Archbishop’s response is he does think it was significant and clearly, and belligerently, seems to come down not for a just and careful balance between accusers and accused but as more keen to consider the needs and desires of accusers over proper protections for the accused.

No need to re-read the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement to know that he did not “compare opinions held mistakenly before a fair trial and conviction showed them to be wrong” with current opinions on the Bishop Bell case. Far from it.

The Archbishop merely pointed out the following: That what is “alleged could not have been true” (because someone is “absolutely certain that it was impossible”) “sometimes turns out to be untrue” as it did, for example, in the case of Bishop Ball.

And that is a simple statement of fact. Not a comparison. – I can’t put it more plainly than that.

PH responds: here is the Archbishop’s statement in full : ‘

‘Following a letter sent to Lambeth Palace and also to the Telegraph newspaper by a group of academics, I felt it important to send a considered, personal response and this statement reflects the essence of my reply.

I cannot with integrity rescind my statement made after the publication of Lord Carlile’s review into how the Church handled the Bishop Bell case. I affirmed the extraordinary courage and achievement of Bishop Bell both before the war and during its course, while noting the Church has a duty to take seriously the allegation made against him.

Our history over the last 70 years has revealed that the Church covered up, ignored or denied the reality of abuse on major occasions. I need only refer to the issues relating to Peter Ball to show an example. As a result, the Church is rightly facing intense and concentrated scrutiny (focussed in part on the Diocese of Chichester) through the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). Our first hearing is in March.

The Diocese of Chichester was given legal advice to make a settlement based on the civil standard of proof, the balance of probability. It was not alleged that Bishop Bell was found to have abused on the criminal standard of proof, beyond reasonable doubt. The two standards should not be confused. It should be remembered that Carol, who brought the allegation, was sent away in 1995, and we have since apologised for this lamentable failure; a failure highlighted by Lord Carlile.

I wrote my response with the support of both Bishop Peter Hancock, the lead bishop for safeguarding, and Bishop Martin Warner, the Bishop of Chichester. We are clear that we accept all but part of one of the recommendations Lord Carlile makes and we are extremely grateful to him for what he has done and the help he has given the Church.

He indicates that in his judgement, a better way to have handled the allegation would have been for the Church to offer money on condition of confidentiality. We disagree with this suggestion. The confidentiality would have been exposed through the IICSA process, and the first question we would have faced, both about Bishop Bell and more widely, would have been ‘so what else are you concealing?’. The letter from the historians does not take into account any of these realities, nor the past failures of the Church. But we will go on considering how we can make our processes better and more robust, as pointed out by Lord Carlile.

*As in the case of Peter Ball, and others, it is often suggested that what is being alleged could not have been true, because the person writing knew the alleged abuser and is absolutely certain that it was impossible for them to have done what is alleged*. As with Peter Ball this sometimes turns out to be untrue, not through their own fault or deceit but because abuse is often kept very secret. The experience of discovering feet of clay in more than one person I held in profound respect has been personally tragic. But as I said strongly in my original statement the complaint about Bishop Bell does not diminish the importance of his great achievements and he is one of the great Anglican heroes of the 20th Century.’

He will note the operative section ‘As in the case of Peter Ball, and others, it is often suggested that what is being alleged could not have been true, because the person writing knew the alleged abuser and is absolutely certain that it was impossible for them to have done what is alleged. As with Peter Ball this sometimes turns out to be untrue, not through their own fault or deceit but because abuse is often kept very secret.’

This is a direct response to the historians’ saying:
First : ‘We regard George Bell as a significant historical figure and *our assessment of his life and career has been an important aspect of our academic work. On this basis we suggest that our collective view on these matters constitutes a genuine and very pertinent authority.*

In this matter they are saying, with astonishing bluntness just this side of scorn that they know better than the Archbishop, and are better qualified to judge the matter than the Archbishop.

They continue : ‘In your public statement of 15 December 2017, the authority of your position was used to perpetuate a single allegation made against Bishop Bell, and you did so in face of the independent review which the Church itself commissioned. We believe that your statement offends the most basic values and principles of historical understanding, ones which should be maintained firmly by those in positions of public authority across society. They must never be ignored or abused.’

**This elaborates the same point***

‘In the past you have insisted that the Church’s view was based on an investigation that was ‘very thorough’. But Lord Carlile has plainly, and utterly, devastated this claim. Historians and lawyers both attach great importance to the presumption of innocence. Your comment seems to imply that a case against Bell has actually been established. It has not.

History cannot be made out of allegations. It is the study of sources. Lord Carlile’s review sets out the material of the allegation for everyone to assess for themselves, and he invites them to do so. There is nothing in it that connects in any way with what is firmly known about Bishop Bell. The allegation is not only wholly uncorroborated but is contradicted by all the considerable, and available, circumstantial material which any historian would consider credible. Furthermore, even on its own terms we find it to depend wholly on scenarios which simply could not have occurred, given what is firmly known and authoritatively established.

*There is no credible representation of personalities, relationships, patterns or locations which is remotely recognisable*. Far from enhancing the allegation, the insistence on vivid quotations undermines critically a testimony in which the experiences of infancy are ‘recollected’, not immediately but at a distance of many decades. Even a modest historical sensitivity would have established the basic implausibility of such a testimony.

The material supporting this allegation does not in our view constitute a credible basis for the writing of history and it flies in the face of our customary critical method. It represents something quite different, an unhistorical, indeed anti-historical, testimony, explicable, perhaps, but in different terms. We cannot understand how such an unsupported, indeed insupportable, allegation can be upheld by a responsible public authority. Quite simply, it is indefensible.’

The reference to the Ball case is clearly a riposte to this, though as I have explained it is a pathetically, pitiably inadequate and misplaced one.

As it happens, nobody in the Bell campaign, to my knowledge , has said that he or she *knows* him to be innocent. I certainly have not. In fact, from the very start, I have conceded explicitly that the allegations against him *might* be true. I specifically said so in my original article on the subject in the Spectator. No honest inquiry could proceed unless our minds were open to this possibility. I several times said privately to my allies in this that we must not be afraid of the truth. If persuasive evidence emerged that Bell was indeed a child molester, then we must concede it immediately, and withdraw. This was the explicit price of engaging in such a campaign, and if we lacked the courage to face it, we should keep quiet. As it happens, in the years of this campaign, not one solitary further accusation of this kind has emerged, despite local, national and now international publicity given to the accusation. On the contrary, two persuasive witnesses have emerged, who recall the time and place at which the crimes are supposed to have taken place and who(from very different perspectives) offer evidcence which fails to confirm, and casts doubt upon, the accusation.

Without knowing the answer to my question, I contacted both Sussex police and the NSPCC (who set up a helpline after the allegation was publicised) to ask if there had been any further complaints against George Bell. For the same reason, I sought (and was not permitted) a meeting with the accuser, though she had been willing to speak to other media and i was willing to abide by all necessary conditions to preserve her anonymity.

If Mr ‘Bunker’ has actually read the Carlile report, he will know the great cloud of circumstantial evidence undermining Carol’s claim, and the total lack of hard corroboration of it, , just as he will know that Professor Maden, engaged by the Church to examine the accusation, warned specifically and voluntarily of the possibility of false memory (though not all members of the investigating team were not told of this) . No court, civil or criminal, would have found against George Bell on the basis of what we actually know. Thus, by any civilised measure, he remains innocence of the charge made (just as Peter Ball, by comparison a trivial figure, remains by any civilised measure guilty of the crimes of which he was accused) , and those who insist there is a ‘cloud’ over George Bell’s reputation are no better than gossipers, rumour-mongers and purveyors of tittle tattle. I really do not know why Mr Bunker clings to his position, except to draw attention to himself.

What I find extraordinary, is that Mr Welby was told by his legal advisers to make a settlement to ‘Carol’ based on the ‘Civil’ standard of proof which is ‘the balance of probability’. How on earth could these people have possibly come to this decision since it is precisely, on ‘the balance of probability’ that there was no case to answer? The circumstantial evidence pointed firmly towards innocence and therefore, the balance was completely in Bishop Bells favour.
There must have been something else that was going on, at the time they all came to this ludicrous decision. Otherwise, I think these ‘legal advisers’ should let us all know who exactly, they are and publicly justify their conclusions, for on the face of it, it seems very odd advice.

Mr Welby said he agreed with all but part one of Lord Carlisle’s recommendations, the part about confidentiality as you mention, possibly leading to future accusations of a cover up. But he fails to acknowledge that this is a unique case with a tiny chance if any, of there ever being another like it. And refuses to grant any mercy or good will to Bishop Bell despite commending him on all the good deeds the man did throughout his life nor considered the awful impact it has had on his very elderly surviving relative. And he should.

In truth Mr Welby *must* know that not only would this case have been dismissed in a *criminal* court, but rather, it would never have come to court. So the mystery of why he continues to cloud the dead Bishop’s name and refuses to back down, remains.

@ Sirin: What astonishes me about the Archbishop’s statement is that he seems to have entirely failed to grasp the point of the criticism he’s been faced with.

Sorry, Welby isn’t that dull. This is “strategic muddle”, “accidentally on purpose”, “selective deafness”, as a cover for deliberate evasion. Which is what makes it so infuriating. He issues flannel as a cover for his real purposes, which are an attempt (increasingly pathetic) to “move on” from the actually proven instances of clergy sexual abuse. George Bell’s reputation ? Expendable material, in his eyes. Far easier to bundle him with the proven rogues. Distinguishing the guilty from the innocent is way too complicated.

@Mr Jackson: … the more I try and engage others who are members of CofE congregations about what is going on, the more I realise that they are generally ignorant of what is happening here.

I concur. Long-standing and committed friends to whom I brandished my copy of the Carlile report over the holidays had not heard about it, were aware only vaguely as another example of “paedomania” accusations against high-profile names which subsequently came to nothing. Welby manages to “bury bad news” quite skilfully.

Nothing in my experience of the CoE upsets me more than this case. I attend Anglican churches quite frequently, have many times considered confirmation, but the Church’s antics are an increasingly difficult obstacle. If there is no moral leadership from its senior Archbishop, what on earth is it for ?

Peter. At some point you will have to acknowledge facts.
1) Welby is a globalist and serves the elites as the Anglican Church did at its inception. That said, it later included many great Christian thinkers like CS Lewis and, from your information, clergymen like Bishop Bell.
2) Welby started out as a CEO and intended to pursue the globalist progressive liberal agenda in all his actions and words.
3) He wants to get rid of tradition.
4) He will undermine and belittle people who want to maintain tradition even if that means obviating justice and smearing Bishop Bell’s good name.

I support your actions and your words on this issue but call him what he is, a progressive liberal globalist who even wants to endorse the worst aspects of this and then have it inflicted on to Anglican schools. His actions are those of an ideologue and not an honourable man. He’s been presented with irrefutable evidence but is terrified that the traditional wing of the Church is galvanised so he, cruelly refuses to give the justified comfort and closure to Bishop Bell’s relatives. We should pray for people like him and the late Peter Sutherland because they are unwittingly or not, honouring and promoting pure evil. How’s that for truth?

What astonishes me about the Archbishop’s statement is that he seems to have entirely failed to grasp the point of the criticism he’s been faced with. It is implied throughout that he seems to consider it a matter of obvious fact that George Bell really was guilty, and that those who have written to him with their concerns are pedantically insisting on some obscure and wholly irrelevant point of law. He seems incapable of believing it possible that a man can be accused of such a crime and yet be innocent of it.

Let the Bell be sounded for Ball, and let the Ball be kicked for Bell.

Carey was undone (by Welby) for errors based upon his erroneous belief in the innocence of Ball. Let Welby be equally undone for errors based upon his erroneous belief in the guilt of Bell.

Sympathy for Welby should be tempered by his intolerance of Carey mentioned above, and his intolerance of his mother, whom he recently publicly identified as an adulteress.

Mr. Hitchens,

One writer above has suggested that there may some momentum growing among grass-roots Anglicans regarding this issue. I too would hope there would be such a thing, but the more I try and engage others who are members of CofE congregations about what is going on, the more I realise that they are generally ignorant of what is happening here. One can only pray that momentum really does grow and demands are made to correct this injustice and end the farce.

What an appalling lack of moral courage from the Archbishop. He is doing wrong purely for purposes to suit himself. The absurdity of casting doubt over Bishop Bell because others in the C of E have been proved to have been child abusers. What does this mean? Does one person’s guilt mean another person is guilty? Are people and situations not different? How can you hold this logic and rise to such a position of authority?

If someone made a claim against Archbishop Welby, however absurd and easily disprovable it was, by his own logic and reasoning he should have a ‘significant cloud’ over his name, be fired from his job, and by civil authorities would be proven guilty (and arrested?) just because there was an accusation, even if it had no credibility to it.

Please keep going. I can see why this raises the temperature of the blood.

The Archbishop of Canterbury wrote: “… it is often suggested that what is being alleged could not have been true, because the person writing knew the alleged abuser and is absolutely certain that it was impossible for them to have done what is alleged.”

Indeed, and I think some contributors to the blog “know” (or at least think they know) that Bishop Bell cannot be guilty – “because he was a good man”. But as the Archbishop quite rightly points out, some people thought the same about Bishop Ball – and they were later proved wrong. – So far, so good.

But apparently not for Mr Hitchens who asks: “How can Mr Welby possibly compare opinions held mistakenly before a fair trial and conviction showed them to be wrong, and opinions held where there has not been and cannot be any such trial …?” And: How on earth can Mr Welby equate this case with that of George Bell…?”

Well, for a start, that is NOT what the Archbishop is comparing.

PH writes: He most certainly is. This is his direct retort to the historians. Read his statement. **** In fact, I doubt whether he is comparing (or equating) anything at all. He is merely stating a fact – that naive beliefs of this kind may turn out to be right, but they may equally possibly be completely unfounded. I see no lack of logic in that.

To argue as Mr Hitchens does over this point is, in my opinion, counter-productive for his struggle to right the wrongs done to Bishop Bell (for which he has my full support).
PS – Yes, I have actually read the Archbishop’s statement.
***PH: Then read it again****

Now I am getting use to the method of conflating the two different things, which Archbishop Welby and his supporters in the Church are adopting, possibly in order to manipulate the readers of their statements.

This time he writes the case of Peter Ball and the case of George Bell side by side, as Mr Hitchens points out;

”How on earth can Mr Welby equate this case with that of George Bell, who faced one uncorroborated accusation made years after his death, and was then condemned without any defence by what Lord Carlile found to be a sloppy and inadequate process in which key evidence undermining the accusation was not even seen by some of those involved, and in which key witnesses were neither found nor interviewed.”

Mr Welby talks about his personal tragic experience without articulating in whom he discovered ’feet of clay’ more than Mr Ball. But he *happened* to put this sentence between the names of Mr Ball and Mr Bell.

”As with Peter Ball this sometimes turns out to be untrue, not through their own fault or deceit but because abuse is often kept very secret.

The experience of discovering feet of clay in *more than one person* I held in profound respect has been personally tragic.

*But* as I said strongly in my original statement the complaint about Bishop Bell does not diminish the importance of his great achievements and he is one of the great Anglican heroes of the 20th Century.”
By using a linking word *But* in the last sentence, Mr Welby seemingly implies Bishop Bell is also included among the people in whom he has discovered ’feet of clay’. If not, why does he write their names side by side?

I think this comment about his personally tragic experience has nothing to do with the actual case of Bishop Bell that has been objectively and throughly investigated by Lord Carlile who has not found any feet of clay in Bell.

Does Mr Welby deny the Review de facto without explicitly stating so?

Weasel-Words Welby has really done it this time. Only media-management matters, so he dredges up the Ball case as distraction. Who knows how many people will be confused by a one-letter difference – whatever, they’re all useful to him. Keep it off-topic, evade the question, side-step somewhere else, fire up the irrelevances of a totally different person in totally different circumstances, anything, anything at all to avoid addressing the issues.

He must surely realise he is digging himself a deeper and deeper hole for people like readers here, following this case, aghast – but does not care, so long as big numbers of people do not come to know, and, slowly, understand what has been going on.

Only one thing for it: do not, please, let this drop, and in so doing, let him off the hook.

“Moving on” is one of the guiding principles of the modern politics of dissembling, and I am sure Welby knows just how it works. The Carlile report exists because of the pressures brought by Peter Hitchens and others like the Bell group. Now he’s trying to “move on” and pretend it doesn’t say anything important.

We need to hear a loud chorus of Oh Yes It Does.

This case seems to be part of some sort of civil war in the C of E.The one conservative Archbishop of Canterbury in recent history George Carey was foisted on the C of E by Mrs Thatcher.This caused a lot of resentment and Welby was able to use the Peter Ball case to remove George Carey from any position within the Church.despite the fact that he continues in holy orders and sits in the House Of Lords. Having treated one of his predecessors in such a fashion basically having accused him of collusion with Peter Ball he obviously feels powerful enough to ignore any protest about Bishop Bell. There is now basically a war between Left and Right now in Western Culture with issues like this weaponized to take out opponents.As Brexit and Trump have shown the Left are not good losers and fight dirty.If you are against them it is wise to remember this.

Mr Hitchens, God bless you, you are doing a splendid job defending the good name of Bishop Bell and exposing Welby for the not so bright person that many think he is.

However, all is not lost. Welby, by his actions, has also exposed himself and cannot possibly escape the natural justice that will oust him from the position for which he is so thoroughly unsuited and from the Church that agonises in confusion from the worldly influences inflicted upon it by him and many of his kind that surround him.

He and they have had their day and will shortly reap their reward!

“I cannot say that I care much who occupies the throne of the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

I’ve heard Catholics saying similar things these days regarding their current, loose-cannon pontiff.

The response that Welby issued yesterday is laughable. He’s appears to be saying that Bell is guilty by association – the association in this case being the C of E. Because others there did it then Bell could have done it too. Brilliant.

You do well to pursue this, Mr Hitchens. And who knows, there seems to be some momentum, so maybe grass-roots Anglicans – who surely know a miscarriage of justice in their church when they see it – will make the Archbishop eventually see sense.

The Archbishop also said the following:

‘The complaint about Bishop Bell does not diminish the importance of his great achievements and he is one of the great Anglican heroes of the 20th century.’

Eh? As Mr Hitchens said in a previous blog, it’s either/or. If a ‘significant cloud’ – a cumulonimbus, say – hangs over the Bishop’s name, it surely diminishes (at least obscures) his importance and achievements – and broods rather portentously over the mountain path to heroism.

Quite apart from the travesty of justice here, consider the banality of the Archbishop’s language. A ‘significant cloud’ hangs over George Bell. A significant cloud? When was the last time you saw a cloud signifying, let alone a significant cloud? As Orwell says, ‘the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts’.

-“Yet Mr Welby continues to describe this marsupial outfit as if it was serious, saying ‘The Diocese of Chichester was given legal advice to make a settlement based on the civil standard of proof, the balance of probability. It was not alleged that Bishop Bell was found to have abused on the criminal standard of proof, beyond reasonable doubt. The two standards should not be confused.’”-

A civil standard of proof of a serious crime?

The CofE is again, as it has done from its first, conflating not just two separate things but three.

Rather than it being for the CofE to determine the probable guilt or innocence of someone accused of very serious criminality, it was merely to decide whether or not the Church was going to settle a civil claim made against it.

The Law being such as to make the living Church and Congregation financially liable for alleged individual criminal behaviour over which they could have neither knowledge or control.

The limited action undertaken by the CofE panel was explicitly orientated to that purpose – NOT to establish the truth or otherwise of the allegation itself:

Annexes of the Carlile Review [separately also on the web] state:

“Annex E Advice given by Paula Jefferson, Solicitor, to Core Group on the 24 October 2014 [DAC Beachcroft Claims Ltd]

“I have asked for some independent evidence of the family relationship but none has been provided. Her solicitors say that her younger siblings did not know her [relative] and are not able to provide evidence of the relationship. They point out that when the Claimant wrote in 1995 she did not identify her [relative] by name, but the response she received did and the name stated was correct. I am surprised that a statement has not been provided by the Claimant’s brother [ ] to whom she says she is close and to whom she also says she revealed the abuse. I would have thought he would have been able to confirm the family relationship.

“Ultimately whether or not she is believed will depend upon her oral evidence in court and whether she is a plausible witness. However all of the current information suggests that she is likely to be believed and to therefore establish on the balance of probabilities that assaults did occur.

“Annex H Minutes from ACC [Carlile] meeting with George Bell Core Group, Lambeth Palace – 11/05/2017: 14. […] GT also added that the focus of the core group was on the settlement, but he now thinks that investigations may well be needed in some cases.”

As detailed in Lord Carlile’s review, the Church Core Group particularly failed to find the two other still living witnesses who were there as young girls in the era of the alleged events who have since spoken on behalf of the late Bishop Bell and who could establish their bona fide relationships with the Bishop and his household.

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