Case for Bishop Bell
Sir – The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, is not alone in being ashamed of the Church in its handling of child abuse cases in the Diocese of Chichester (report, March 22). So are quite a few others. And some of us would add that we are ashamed of Archbishop Welby too.
At the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse hearing on Wednesday, the Archbishop was questioned about his continuing attack on the late Bishop George Bell, whose reputation has been besmirched by what Lord Carlile, the Church’s own eminent appointee to examine its legal processes, has described as a very misguided rush to judgement on a single accusation of historic child sexual abuse.
The continued anger that the case has aroused has nothing to do with Bishop Bell’s eminent reputation. It has everything to do with the fact that no one has ever been allowed to present a case in his defence.
The recent effort by the family to appoint its own lawyer in a new investigation has been turned down by the Chichester authorities. And once again, the Archbishop missed a chance to affirm his belief in Bishop Bell’s innocence as presumed by the law.
When will the Archbishop have the grace to admit that the Church leaders responsible for handling the George Bell case – including himself – have made the most colossal error of judgement in this instance?
Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson
Sheffield, South Yorkshire
George Bell was ‘fond’ of paeodophile bishop Peter Ball and sponsored him for ordination, an inquiry has heard.
As former bishop of Chichester, Bell is considered one of Anglicanism’s heroes. However, it emerged in 2015 the Church of England paid £16,800 to the woman, known as Carol, in a legal settlement after she accused Bell of sexually abusing her as a child.
Now it can be revealed Peter Ball, who was jailed for a string of sex offences against teenagers and young men in 2015, was close friends with Bell.
Ball was initially rejected in his attempt to become a priest in 1951 but Bell wrote to the selection panel in support of Ball’s application.
When Ball applied for ordination a second time it was Bell who sponsored him through the process.
In his witness statement to an inquiry investigating child sex abuse within the Church of England, Ball denied that Bell had ‘overruled’ the selection board allowing him to be ordained.
However he said that after his ordination Bell would visit his parish to take services, adding he was ‘aware that he was “fond” of me’.
In response to a question about Bell’s involvement in his ordination, Ball told the inquiry: ‘It is not right therefore to say that Bishop Bell “overruled” the selection board in order for me to be ordained.
‘Although Bishop Bell had indicated in 1951 in a letter to the first Selection Board who did not recommend me for ministry that he would be “prepared to accept me for ordination” even though the Selection Board had not recommend me for training at that time, that is not how matters proceeded.’
He went on: ‘After theological college, it was Bishop Bell ultimately who did sponsored [sic] me for ordination, but with the approval of the Selection Board. Bishop Bell then placed me in the parish of Rottingdean where I undertook my first curacy.
‘He would visit my curacy on occasion to carry out confirmations and to take services.
‘We had a good working relationship; I was aware that he was “fond” of me. He was someone who I looked up to when I was a young curate starting out in the Church.’
Bell, who died in 1958, was revered by Anglicans before the abuse allegations against him emerged. However a report earlier this year heavily criticised the Church’s handling of the accusations and found it ‘rushed to judgement’ and failed to give proper consideration to Bell’s rights.
But the archbishop of Canterbury refused to back down and said a ‘significant cloud is left over his name’.
Ball went on to become bishop of Lewes in the diocese of Chichester and then bishop of Gloucester. He was accused of gross indecency against a 16-year-old in 1992 but escaped with a police caution after he received backing from a member of the Royal Family and a number of other establishment figures. He was told to step down from his role as a bishop. However he continued to minister in churches and schools until 2010 before he was eventually arrested.
At the age of 83 he was sentenced to 32 months for misconduct in public office and 15 months for indecent assaults in 2015. He was released after serving 16 months.
The independent inquiry into child sexual abuse has been investigation how the diocese of Chichester handled allegations of child sexual abuse as a case study for the wider Church of England.
In his concluding remarks today solicitor David Greenwood said the CofE was more ‘malign’ than the Catholic Church in its response to abuse and accused it of ‘a conscious effort to treat survivors badly’.
The archbishop of Canterbury in his evidence said he had ‘learnt to be ashamed again of the Church’ and warned child sexual abuse would ‘destroy the Church’ if not addressed.
You can read more about the past three weeks of hearings here.
March 22 2018 – IICSA Transcript – Wednesday March 21
Archbishop Justin Welby
Page 119-120 [Paras 21-25]
and at the heart of this has to be justice, and justice is a very, very difficult thing to find, as you know much better than I do, but we have to have a system that delivers justice. That is so important. And if it doesn’t, it’s not good enough.
Fiona Scolding QC
Page 123 [Paras 14-25] Page 124 [Paras 1-8]
One of the points that Lord Carlile makes is that the church didn’t take a good enough account of…George Bell’s reputation. Now, we have heard from several individuals about their views about that. But what he seems to suggest is, you have to start — you know, this was such a Titanic figure that one must assume that his reputation is unblemished and, therefore, that has to be weighed very heavily in the balance. Do you have any response to that?
Archbishop Justin Welby
I think the greatest tragedy of all these cases is that people have trusted, very often, those who were locally, in diocesan terms, or nationally Titanic figures, and have then found that they were not worthy of their trust. The fact that someone is a titanic figure doesn’t tell you anything at all, except that they have done remarkable things in one area. It doesn’t tell you about the rest of their lives. And it is not something that we can take into account.
March 22 2018 – From The Archives [1988 – “Rumpole of the Bailey” with Leo McKern – Episode: ‘Rumpole and the Age of Miracles’ [Series 5 Disc 2) – Filmed on location at Chichester Cathedral [‘The Diocese of Lawnchester’ – Ecclesiastical Court]
Rumpole: “I happen to have a good deal of faith”
Ballard: “Yes, in what precisely?”
Rumpole: “The health-giving properties of Claret. The presumption of innocence…that golden thread running through British justice”
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND is reeling from one crisis to the next, with one never knowing how and where it will all end.
Here is the latest: The Church of England was warned by the Lead Bishop for Safeguarding, Peter Hancock, that sexual abuse crimes would be on the front page of newspapers and television for the next two years. This, after years of institutional neglect and lethargy. This week is perhaps the start of the purging of complacency, said one report.
The opening of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) into the deficiencies of the Established Church took the headlines, but other stories also arose. The poor handling of Fr Matt Ineson’s complaints against five bishops was featured in the BBC Inside Out programme, and the substance of it appeared on the BBC website. It was also covered by Christian Today.
Further stories are beginning to emerge which have not yet been published but will add to our institutional woes, said another report.
You can read the full story here: https://tinyurl.com/y9agjjom
It was learned that Archbishop John Sentamu ordered ‘no action’ against paedophile priest — leaving him to abuse again and then commit suicide.
You can read the full story here: https://tinyurl.com/y8dk9bec
There were attacks on Lord Carey again with one headline that ran:
‘An Attack On Lord Carey Is An Attack On Us All’, Say Church of England Figures.
In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, 10 signatories including the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, former bishop of Rochester, suggested that the former Archbishop of Canterbury was being targeted for his involvement in the Bishop Peter Ball case because of “what he represents of biblically faithful Christianity”.
The letter, also signed by Simon Rufus Isaacs, Marquess of Reading, who is a friend of Prince Charles, former bishop of Woolwich Colin Buchanan, and campaigner Andrea Williams of Christian Concern, says that similar high-profile cases have not resulted in prosecutions for misconduct in public office.
You can read the full story here: https://tinyurl.com/ydg8hhd3
But the week ended on a moderately high note when the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia visited the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at Lambeth Palace and discussed a range of issues including religious freedom for Christians in Saudi Arabia and the conflict in the Yemen.
In a statement, a Lambeth Palace spokeswoman said that Archbishop Justin was “encouraged” to hear about Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 roadmap. “The Crown Prince made a strong commitment to promote the flourishing of those of different faith traditions, and to interfaith dialogue within the Kingdom and beyond,” the statement said.
“The Archbishop shared his concern about limits placed on Christian worship in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and highlighted the importance for leaders of all faiths to support freedom of religion or belief, drawing on the experience of the UK.
Canadian blogger Samizdat wryly noted on seeing Welby bowing to the Saudi prince, “Welby may be pointing out to Mohammed bin Salman that his shoelace is undone; or warning him not to slip on a banana peel; or inviting the prince to inspect his head for lice.
“Or he might have been bowing.
“Welby is meeting with the Crown Prince to discuss Saudi Arabia’s “strong commitment to interfaith dialogue”, an idea so preposterous only an ex oil executive could take it seriously. The country renowned for beating critics of its leaders practically to death, that practices the most barbaric excesses of sharia law, that mutilates women because it is “noble”, has no Christian churches. None. Saudi Arabia is an Islamic theocracy, a nasty, brutish, despotism which does not tolerate the public practice of other religions. There is no “interfaith” because there are no other state tolerated faiths.
“In other news, next week Justin Welby will be meeting with Satan to foster reconciliation, begin interfaith dialogue, and persuade him to turn down the temperature in hell.”
‘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.
My pianist friend described himself as feeling discombobulated at the end of a day at the school where he taught music. He could smash a keyboard playing Rachmaninoff, but couldn’t face parents who insisted their snotty progenies were child prodigies. I envied my friend the luxury of a six-syllabled experience.
My longing for the LSD-like experience of discombobulation was satiated over the weekend when Justin Welby kept popping out of the newspapers like a Jack-in-the-box on steroids.
When the Archbishop of Canterbury’s media machine goes into overdrive it can mean two things. One, there’s a rodent rotting in a Lambeth suite and Welby’s media bellhops are using air-fresheners to mask the stench. The pong this time is Welby’s denunciation of Bishop George Bell that won’t go away until he apologises. Or, perhaps, it is a pre-emptive media strike before Welby is hauled before the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse this month.
Two, Welby is selling something – a second book. His first didn’t soar to the top of Amazon’s charts. It didn’t feature in the London Review of Books. If you type ‘Welby’ in the LRB search engine the first article on Dog-Collared Lucre Brokersmocks the archbishop who ‘has got his crozier stuck in a cowpat’.
My discombobulation erupted like the measles when I read the title of Welby’s tome –Reimagining Britain: Foundations for Hope. I confess I’m allergic to certain words beginning with ‘Re’. It was a fad among students at my Left-wing university to submit dissertations with titles prefixed with oily words such as reimagining, revisiting, rethinking, re-visioning, rewriting or redefining.
If you’re a Leftie, you bloody well can’t leave things as they are because everything is damned oppressive and the blighter before you (and before him ad infinitum) got it all wrong until St Marx parachuted down from heaven with the solution. Now all you’ve got to do is discombobulate the evils of patriarchy, capitalism and racism and reimagine, rethink, redo society and state and, abracadabra, you will create Utopia with a wave of Comrade Corbyn’s magic wand. Get the idea?
For Welby, the diabolical evil that prevents this reimagination is inequality. ‘As we look around, we see divisions and inequalities that are already damaging our way of life . . . There are inequalities in our healthcare system . . . education is marked by cuts and inequalities,’ he writes. Welby illustrates his rant against inequality by shaming people who buy second or third homes as investments.
‘How do you solve the problem of inequality?’ sings the Archdrone of Canterbury in a flamboyant imitation of Mother Superior in The Sound of Music. ‘How do you solve the problem of poverty?’ is the question he should be asking. Hasn’t he noticed that some of the poorest countries in the world are also the most equal?
In the 19th century, Italian polymath Vilfredo Pareto noticed that 20 per cent of people owned 80 per cent of the wealth – this rule was true for every society ever studied, regardless of governmental form. Does Welby know that the only way to dismantle inequality is to take the Ten Commandments and contravene the first, eighth and tenth?
The first commandment states: ‘You shall have no other gods but me.’ To enforce equality, government would have to take the place of God. The state would then have to violate the eighth commandment: ‘You shall not steal.’ It would steal from some and redistribute the loot to others. The tenth commandment states: ‘You shall not covet your neighbour’s house, etc . . . or anything that is your neighbour’s.’ Does Welby not believe in the Ten Commandments or the right to private property, which includes second homes?
Welby bellyaches that second home ownership and Brexit has divided society. But wasn’t it Quantitative Easing (QE) that divided society, since the government went on a money-printing binge, pumping out easy money that favoured Britain’s richest 5 per cent? QE hammered ordinary savers and condemned retirees to low pensions while an asset boom saw stock and property owners get much richer. ‘In Britain the market distortions have been eye-watering. The average house now costs eight times average earnings,’ notes Liam Halligan. The Exodus plague of frogs triggered by Moses in Egypt was hardly solved by Pharaoh’s magicians producing even more frogs!
‘How do you solve the problem of austerity?’ is Welby’s next chorus. But why should austerity be a problem? When bloated government has fattened itself by borrowing beyond its means and spending like there’s no tomorrow, you don’t need Milton Friedman telling you to cut your coat according to your cloth. If Welby trusted Moses more than John Maynard Keynes, he would recognise the burden of debt as a curse.
In the Torah, God promises to bless Israel economically if she remains obedient. ‘You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.’ But if Israel is disobedient, God will curse her with debt. The foreign nation ‘shall lend to you, and you shall not lend to him,’ Moses warns Israel.
As Theodore Dalrymple observes, Britain has been living on borrowed money ‘consuming today what it would have to pay for tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and the day after that; the national debt increased at a rate unmatched in peacetime; and when the music stopped, the state found itself holding unprecedented obligations, with no means of paying them’. But when it decides to tighten its belt and go on an austerity diet, Welby cries foul!
For Welby, austerity ‘almost invariably conceals the crushing of the weak, the unlucky, the ill, and a million others’. Austerity is like putting a heroin addict in rehab. Because Welby feels sorry for the heroin addict suffering withdrawal symptoms, he wants to give him another fix. Shouldn’t he be chastising incontinent government spending and immense waste in the public sector instead of attacking austerity?
‘How do you solve a problem like sharia?’ is another line in the Welby chorus. Sharia should not win official status, he writes, because ‘it comes from a very different background of jurisprudence to the one from which British law has developed over the past 500 years’.
The blogger Archbishop Cranmer (aka Adrian Hilton) is ecstatic. ‘Why aren’t some of those Christians who have long sounded the alarm about cultural relativism and creeping sharia thanking God for the clarity of Justin Welby’s declaration?’ Bishop Ashenden tweets back, ‘For the same reason he would not need congratulating if he observed today was Monday. It’s simply obvious.’
Welby’s declaration on sharia is actually a good example of cultural relativism. Is Welby implying that sharia is fine for other cultures but bad for Britain? If sharia orders the execution of apostates and homosexuals and favours men over women in courtroom and bedroom, why should it be good for any culture, especially in places such as Nigeria and Sudan where Anglicans and other Christians suffer the scourge of sharia and are discriminated against because of a primitive and barbaric form of jurisprudence that is biased towards Muslims?
By now, I’m reeling under a discombobulation of Welbyian proportions. I go to duckduckgo.com to ferret out the root of the word. It comes from the Italian scombussolato, which means ‘someone who has lost his compass’. Bussola is the word for compass in Italian. ‘How do you solve a problem like Welby?’ I ask myself. Is he so discombobulated that he doesn’t know if he is chief pastor to his flock or pretend economist to the nation? Or, like Little Bo Peep, has the Archbishop lost his sheep and his compass and doesn’t know where to find them?