Bishop George Bell was my father’s tutor at Oxford, he married my parents and he buried my father in 1954 when I was aged 20. I remember him well.
This whole matter has been effectively shouldered by you and the Bishop of Chichester and I have written to the Bishop of Chichester to say so. Lord Carlile makes it clear that the impression is left by the Core Group that George Bell was guilty.
Your remarks on the publication of Lord Carlile’s report were disgraceful – and you did not retract them some days later. In my letter to the Bishop of Chichester I suggested that he should seriously consider his position. You have also subjected one of your predecessors, George Carey, to dreadful humiliation.
In view of these two episodes in the Church of England, in which you played a major part, I think that you, too, should very seriously consider your future.
The former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey has launched an extraordinary broadside against his successor, Justin Welby, in a Christmas letter to friends.
In a letter headed “Greetings from the Careys 2017”, Lord Carey, 82, lashes out at the “shocking” and “quite unjust” demand by Welby that he resign an honorary post because of his involvement in a high-profile sexual abuse case.
In recounting key events of his year, Carey tells friends of the “shocking insistence by the archbishop that I should stand down from ministry ‘for a season’ for mistakes he believes were made 24 years ago when bishop Peter Ball abused young potential priests. His decision is quite unjust and eventually will be judged as such.”
He adds: “Just as well, then, that we are surrounded by a large and wonderful family who give us great support and pleasure.”
The former archbishop, who retired from the post in 2002, resigned as honorary assistant bishop in the diocese of Oxford in June after a damning independent inquiry criticised the Church of England’s handling of the Ball case.
Ball was released from prison in February after serving 16 months for the grooming, sexual exploitation and abuse of 18 vulnerable young men who had sought spiritual guidance from him between 1977 and 1992.
The inquiry found that Ball’s case was dealt with at the highest level of the C of E. “The church appears to have been most interested in protecting itself,” its report said.
Carey “set the tone for the church’s response to Ball’s crimes and gave the steer which allowed Ball’s assertions that he was innocent to gain credence”. Carey had failed to pass six letters raising concerns about Ball to police and in 1993 wrote to Ball’s identical twin brother, Bishop Michael Ball, saying: “I believe him to be basically innocent.”
After the inquiry made its findings public, Carey apologised to Ball’s victims, saying: “I believed Peter Ball’s protestations and gave too little credence to the vulnerable young men and boys behind those allegations.”
Carey, who sits in the House of Lords as a crossbencher, has now hit back against Welby in a Christmas missive from him and his wife, Eileen, to “our dear friends”.
The letter, seen by the Guardian, says “two things have happened to us of consequence” over the past year. One was a move to a new home in a retirement community and the “less desirable” one was Welby’s intervention in June.
Last year, the former archbishop waded into another sexual abuse case, criticising the C of E’s handling of an allegation against the late George Bell, who was bishop of Chichester until his death in 1958. The church was heavily criticised in an independent report on Friday for traducing Bell without rigorous investigation of the claim.
In a letter to Bell’s niece, Carey said he was “frankly appalled by the way the church authorities have treated his memory”.
He added: “The church has effectively delivered a ‘guilty’ verdict without anything resembling a fair and open trial.” His reputation had been left “in tatters”.
A spokesperson said Carey did not comment on private correspondence intended for friends.
A spokesperson for Welby also declined to comment on private correspondence but said the independent review on the Ball case spoke for itself.