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.
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’.
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,
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]
Monday, November 28 2016
West Sussex PO19 1PY
Dear Dean and Members of Chapter
We write concerning the recent publication of the Pitkin Guide to the Cathedral. In common with many people locally and nationally who have read it, we find your stance on the text concerning the late Bishop Bell unhelpful. We are given to understand the copyright is your responsibility and that you wrote the text in question.
When every effort is being made to heal the hurt and divisions occasioned by the way the Church locally and nationally has handled this affair, it seems to us unwise to leave in place any potentially damaging text about Bishop Bell.
As concern grows nationally regarding the handling of sexual abuse cases, we await the investigation into the Church of England’s handling of this affair.
In the meantime, we would suggest three possible courses of action:
1. The withdrawal of the Guide from sale pending the Review by Lord Carlile QC
2. The re-printing of the Guide, excluding – or re-writing – the text in question
3. The insertion of a Slip into every copy of the Guide, stating something along the lines of: “The accusation of child sexual abuse which has been made against Bishop George Bell is now the subject to an investigation – led by Lord Carlile QC – which will report in 2017”.
Thank you for giving this letter your consideration.
Professor Peter BILLINGHAM
Rt. Rev and Rt. Hon THE LORD CAREY OF CLIFTON
Dr Colin CLARK
The Rt Hon THE LORD DEAR
The Reverend David EVANS
The Reverend Dr Jules GOMES
Dr Ruth Hildebrandt GRAYSON
Professor James GRAYSON
The Reverend Professor Martin HENIG
SIR JOHN AND LADY MACLURE
LADY [BRIDGET] NIXON
The Very Reverend Professor Martyn PERCY
THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
Richard W. SYMONDS
THE LADY KENYA TATTON-BROWN
Dr Geoffrey THOMAS
The Reverend John TIBBS
For any reply and/or further information, please contact:
Richard W. Symonds The Bell Society 2 Lychgate Cottages Ifield Street, Ifield Village Crawley, West Sussex RH11 0NN
Tel: 07540 309592 (Text only – Very deaf)
cc The Rt Revd Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester
Peter Hitchens – Mail on Sunday – October 23 2016
This is NOT justice – it’s a witch hunt
The Great Child Abuse Inquiry continues to devour itself, in a storm of rumour and whispers. There is some justice in this.
The whole idea that this country is waist-deep in unprosecuted abuse scandals has always been based on allegations that cannot be objectively proved. Now this industry is the target of its own methods.
The whole country has become a vast kangaroo court, in which guilty and innocent alike are accused, and in many cases we can never find the truth.
For a year, I have been fighting the case of the late Bishop George Bell, whose courage and principle I have long admired, who was suddenly accused of long-ago child abuse by a solitary complainant, 57 years after his death. No other accusers have come forward.
To begin with, his own church, aided by several newspapers, the BBC and the police, acted disgracefully as if his guilt was proven. The police even said they would have arrested him if he hadn’t been dead, an absurd and meaningless statement which persuaded many he was guilty.
Now, thanks to relentless pressure by many good people, plus me, the BBC have honourably retreated, the police have softened their line, and the Church themselves have published a booklet about Chichester Cathedral in which they admit that the charges against Bishop Bell have never been tested in any court and are just ‘plausible’, a feeble word given that the accusation, if true, would strip away his good name for ever.
It’s not enough. But it took all the running we could do just to stay in the same place, returning to the old English custom that all are presumed innocent until guilt is proven. If the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary could grasp this point, their hopeless inquiry could be shut down before it soaks up the entire national budget and we could go back to proper British justice.https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2016/10/18/chichester-cathedral-september/