Tag Archives: Anglican Church

Jan 29 2019 – “Bishop Bell Vindicated” – Peter Hitchens -‘First Things’ (US)

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Peter Hitchens

 

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2019/01/bishop-bell-vindicated

had not thought that victory in a good cause after a long campaign would make me so angry. And yet I was angry. It is only at such moments that we can test the real currency of conscience and eternity against the counterfeit of everyday.

For I and my allies have just undoubtedly won a protracted struggle to restore the good name of Bishop George Bell of Chichester, outrageously condemned as a child abuser by the Church of England he once adorned.

The headlines and the bulletins have all described it as a victory. We will probably get much of what we have always wanted—for instance the restoration of Bell’s name to the buildings and institutions from which it was Stalinistically stripped after the accusations were first made. Indeed, a statue of him, intended for the west front of Canterbury Cathedral, but left incomplete when the charges were made, is now to be finished and put in its intended place. This is a vindication, if ever there was one.

Yet confronted with the poor, sad burbling thing which is a modern Anglican bishop, refusing even now to withdraw doubts about Bell’s innocence (absolutely presumed in English law), refusing to retract insinuations against his defenders, and in general lacking what I regard as proper contrition—it is this failure to confess and seek absolution which predominates in my mind. I did not just want justice or restitution for George Bell (though I did want them). I wanted his accusers to accept that a man’s good name, after he is dead, cannot lightly be trifled with.  If you damage it, and you are wrong, you have a far greater duty to make restitution than if your victim is alive to refute and forgive you.

And I genuinely could not understand their view, which seems to be that, while George Bell may in fact be guilty of the filthy crimes alleged against him, his wider activities in the great world are still somehow valid and worth “celebrating” or whatever the word is. This is such rubbish. The cruel violation of a trusting child, concealed by abuse of power, and unconfessed, as is suggested, would completely cancel out any public virtue and turn it into slime and ashes. One’s hands reach for a millstone.

But I have had to put away my rage, and my growing fear for those who will not admit to what they have done. This is because the political victory cannot properly be exploited unless we, George Bell’s defenders, assert it.

And so I do, and it is quite clearly such a victory. After a struggle lasting nearly as long as the First World War, we have plainly won.

For the second time, allegations against him have proved on inquiry to be weak beyond belief, nowhere near the standard of proof of any court—and in the case of some of the latest ones actually laughable. In one of these accusations, the bishop is supposed to have engaged in homosexual congress, nine years after he was dead, with a man whose body was spread over some part (presumably the hood) of a Rolls Royce automobile which Bishop Bell did not ever possess. It is just possible to be charitable about whoever put this fantasy forward. This is plainly a troubled mind. It is impossible to be charitable to those who took it seriously and spent a ponderous year pretending to assess its worth, while Bishop Bell’s 93-year-old niece was kept in suspense about the outcome. You may study the embarrassing details here.

I have written about this case for First Things and will not dwell on the details. George Bell was for many a pattern of courage when he spoke out, almost alone, against what is now increasingly recognized as having been the mistaken deliberate bombing of German civilians during the 1939-45 war. He knew it would damage him to say this, yet he still said it, which is what his Lord and Master would have wished, even though it was very much not what Winston Churchill would have wished.

Today’s Anglican Church, a poor shivering thing these days, first smeared George Bell in October 2015. It was very worldly in its actions. It had issued a rather coy and ambiguous written statement on allegations against him which had emerged decades after his death in 1958. It was in fact so nebulous that there was later a quarrel about whether it had actually said he was guilty.

It did not really matter by then, as several major newspapers, national and local, and the BBC had somehow or other gained the confidence to state beyond doubt and without qualification that Bishop Bell had been a child abuser. As a journalist myself, who knows how such things happen, I have always believed that somebody must have encouraged them to take this bold step. News organizations are wary of publicly condemning people even when they are dead.  But I have never been able to find out who it was.

What I am sure of is that their confident condemnations served the purpose of a Church trying hard to look decisive and stern about priestly abuse—a problem it has in fact handled very badly. For the Church, it was a free lunch. They could hurl a dead man’s reputation onto the rubbish-heap. Nobody would care, and they would appear to be showing resolve. Because they are new men, from a new era, they had no idea of the power and importance of the reputation they were destroying. Another generation on, and I suppose they would have got away with it. But they didn’t, and for that we can give thanks to the God of Justice and Mercy. You can expect to do a lot of praying if ever you get involved in such a case, because very often, despite your confidence in the rightness of your cause, you will be overpowered by the world’s willingness to tolerate and indeed defend naked injustice.

Peter Hitchens is a columnist for the Mail on Sunday.

COMMENTS

  • In fact, nobody cares. That’s as disgraceful as anything. No one will be held to account for this. The press won’t cover it. The false accusations will continue to be repeated.

  • “You can expect to do a lot of praying if ever you get involved in such a case, because very often, despite your confidence in the rightness of your cause, you will be overpowered by the world’s willingness to tolerate and indeed defend naked injustice”

    But that’s the standard now, isn’t it? An accusation equals guilt? Think of the legal standards of the French Revolution, or the Salem Witch Trials. Or more recently, the Tawana Brawley accusations, the Virginia fraternity accusations, or the Duke lacrosse case.

    “Innocent until proven guilty” is so, so 19th century..

March 5 2018 – “‘Wilful blindness’ existed towards Church child abuse in Sussex, inquiry hears” – West Sussex County Times – Michael Drummond

https://www.wscountytimes.co.uk/news/crime/wilful-blindness-existed-towards-church-child-abuse-in-sussex-inquiry-hears-1-8403316

‘Wilful blindness’ existed towards Church child abuse in Sussex, inquiry hears

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is taking place in London

MICHAEL DRUMMOND Email Published: 17:21 Monday 05 March 2018

A damning image of ‘wilful blindness’ in historic cases of sexual abuse of children who were ‘terrified and silenced’ by clergy in Sussex has been set out at a public inquiry. Fiona Scolding QC, lead counsel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), said abuse that left an ‘indelible scar’ on children was often ignored or forgiven.

In one segment, Miss Scolding described abuse by a Reverend Colin Pritchard: “There have been suggestions about the culture of abuse operated by Reverend Pritchard and that Bishop Peter Ball turned a blind eye to that abuse.” Reverend Pritchard, who was vicar of St Barnabas in Bexhill, pleaded guilty in 2008 to seven counts of sexual assault on two boys and was jailed for five years.

Speaking on behalf of the Diocese of Chichester and Archbishops’ Council for the Church of England, Nigel Giffin QC said the Church’s response to abuse in the last few decades was ‘not nearly good enough’. The IICSA inquiry in London will look into how far institutions failed to protect children from sexual abuse within the Anglican Church. It focusses on abuse within the Diocese of Chichester, which covers all of Sussex, as a case study.

Lead counsel for the inquiry Fiona Scolding QC Members of the public heard about dozens of offences in Sussex over the last 50 years. Miss Scolding said: “As a society we have ocer the past 10 years had to examine some uncomfortable truths about our wilful blindness to such abuse.”

She noted the convictions for sex offences of Michael Walsh, Terence Banks and David Bowring, who were associated with Chichester Cathedral and local schooling. Miss Scolding also told the inquiry how Reverend Roy Cotton, who was convicted in 1952 of gross indecency with a child, was at one point an ‘alleged abuser hiding in plain sight’.

Richard Scorer spoke on behalf of many of the victims

She added: “Despite his conviction the Bishop of Portsmouth considered him suitable for ordination as a man of ‘considerable ability’ free of any trouble for 12 years. “Because of his criminal record the then Bishop of Portsmouth ensured he did not have to undertake the usual recruitment processes.”

The handling by the Church of allegations made against Chichester’s Bishop George Bell will be discussed later in the inquiry, but not the truth of them or otherwise.

Richard Scorer, speaking on behalf of many of the victims, said: “If you want to abuse children there is no more effective way of terrifying and silencing your victims than to claim to have God on your side.

The inquiry will look into how abuse by people associated with Chichester Cathedral was dealt with

“The Church of England claims to offer moral guidance to the country yet clerical sexual abuse cases powerfully undermine the claim. This leads to the cover-up of abuse.

“The question is whether the Church of England can be trusted to put its own house in order.”

In a statement read out this afternoon, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: “The failures that we have seen are deeply shaming and I personally find them a cause of horror and sadness. “That children have been abused within the communities of the church is indeed shameful.” The inquiry continues.

Read more at: https://www.wscountytimes.co.uk/news/crime/wilful-blindness-existed-towards-church-child-abuse-in-sussex-inquiry-hears-1-8403316