Category Archives: Bishop George Bell

April 11 2020 – Correspondence with Dr Gerald Morgan – Pell, Bell and Justice – Church Times [Unpublished Letter]

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Bishop George Bell

Dear Gerald 

Yes, it is beyond scandalous, but the Archbishop is legally untouchable.

Court action for defamation can only be taken by the defamed person – not easy if you are dead!

As I read it, Court action for damages can be taken by a living relative – that’s all.

In this case, Bishop Bell’s niece Barbara Whitley is the only known relative – a nonagenarian. 

She called on Archbishop to resign a few years ago [Dec 2017] but, as I understand it, no legal action for damages was initiated by her – even though there was pro bono support for her to do so at the time.

Kind regard 

Richard

On 11 Apr 2020, at 05:51, Gerald Morgan <gmorgan1066@gmail.com> wrote:

Dear Richard,

The Archbishop of Canterbury is not a spiritual leader as we see in the abject response of the Church of England in Holy Week 2020.

Perhaps a case ought to be brought against the Archbishop of Canterbury for defamation of character.

That the Archbishop of Canterbury is ignorant of or indifferent to the presumption of innocence is scandalous.

Kind regards,

Gerald

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
 


Per pale argent and gules, a bend counterchanged

On Thu, Apr 9, 2020 at 8:11 AM <richardsy5@aol.com> wrote:

Dear Editor

 
The Church of England hierarchy would be advised to familiarise itself with the unanimous decision of seven High Court judges of the Australian Court of Appeal to quash the conviction of Cardinal George Pell (“Cardinal Pell’s conviction quashed by High Court”, CT, April 7). 
 
The jury, “acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted”. There was “a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof”.
 
In the case of the character assassination of Bishop George Bell, the evidence used by the Church of England hierarchy – which includes Archbishop Welby and Bishop Warner – was even more flimsy.

 

Let truth and justice speak above the shameful, ecclesiastical silence.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

SALMOND, BELL AND JUSTICE – CHURCH TIMES [UNPUBLISHED LETTER]

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Sir,

So Alex Salmond has been found innocent of all 13 charges of sex offences brought against him (Daily Telegraph, 24 March 2020, p. 15).

Two years ago, when the accusations first surfaced, students at Heriot-Watt University were polled by their union to find out whether they wished the plaque commemorating his previous visit as (then) First Minister of Scotland to the Riccarton Campus removed.  A clear majority replied that it should remain, on the basis that an individual is innocent until proven guilty.

Senior clergy in the Church of England might learn from this.  They were quick to condemn the late Bishop George Bell on the basis of a single unsubstantiated allegation of child sexual abuse and,  despite the conclusions of two extensive legal investigations that it was indeed unfounded, have been extremely reluctant to restore his name and reputation both within Chichester and beyond.  What a pity they were not educated at Heriot-Watt University. 

Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson

Sheffield

PELL, BELL AND JUSTICE – CHURCH TIMES [UNPUBLISHED LETTER]

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Dear Editor

The Church of England hierarchy would be advised to familiarise itself with the unanimous decision of seven High Court judges of the Australian Court of Appeal to quash the conviction of Cardinal George Pell (“Cardinal Pell’s conviction quashed by High Court”, CT, April 7). 
 
The jury, “acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted”. There was “a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof”.
 
In the case of the character assassination of Bishop George Bell, the evidence used by the Church of England hierarchy – which includes Archbishop Welby and Bishop Warner – was even more flimsy.

Let truth and justice speak above the shameful, ecclesiastical silence.

 

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

March 31 2016 – CHARLES MOORE ON BISHOP BELL

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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

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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.

“THE GEORGE BELL – GERHARD LEIBHOLZ CORRESPONDENCE” – EDITED BY GERHARD RINGSHAUSEN AND ANDREW CHANDLER [CHURCH TIMES BOOK REVIEW – JULY 12 2019]

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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.

 

STADTARCHIV GÖTTINGEN Gerhard Leibholz

 

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
(978-1-4742-5766-4)
Church Times Bookshop £76.

Feb 28 2020 – Jimmy Savile and the Royals

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@GatwickCity

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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.

TIM HUDSON LETTER SUBMISSION TO THE TIMES – FEBRUARY 2020

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Sir,

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

Chichester
West Sussex,