Tag Archives: James Macintyre

February 7 2018 – “Archbishop of Canterbury says George Bell’s accuser is as important as late Bishop’s reputation” – Christian Today

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/archbishop-of-canterbury-says-george-bells-accuser-is-as-important-as-late-bishops-reputation/125411.htm

Archbishop of Canterbury says George Bell’s accuser is as important as late bishop’s reputation

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has said the woman who alleged that Bishop George Bell abused her should be ‘treated equally importantly’ as the reputation of the late bishop, and that she is ‘not an inconvenience to be overlooked’.

In an interview with the Church Times ahead of a gathering of General Synod, which is like a church parliament, Archbishop Welby defended the decision, made by the Church of England with Welby’s involvement, to publicise the £16,800 payment it made to the woman, known as ‘Carol’.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
Reuters Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has defended the Church of England’s handling of allegations against the late Bishop George Bell.

That decision and the ‘rush’ that led up to it was heavily criticised in a review published in December by Lord Carlile into the handling of the allegations made against Bishop Bell, regarded as a 20<sup>th Century giant of Anglicanism who died in 1958.

Since then, Archbishop Welby has come under growing criticism from historians and academics for insisting that a ‘significant cloud’ remains over Bell’s name.

Speaking to the Church Times, Welby acknowledged that the Carlile report ‘points out some of the quite severe weaknesses in the initial investigation of George Bell’ and he said that he ‘accepted its recommendations — all except half of one recommendation’ [the naming of those accused of abuse].

But he added: ‘Let’s just have a hypothetical situation in which Chichester diocese had not declared its payment [to Carol] two years ago. With the Independent Inquiry [into Child Sexual Abuse]…that confidentiality undertaking would certainly have become public. Now, the first question, when I give evidence, would then be asked: ‘What else are you hiding? What do you really know about George Bell that you are not telling us, because you’re so anxious to keep it secret?’ It’s a lose-lose…

Welby continued: ‘We have to treat both Bishop Bell, his reputation — we have to hold that as something really precious and valuable. But the person who has brought the complaint is not an inconvenience to be overlooked: they are a human being of immense value and dignity, to be treated equally importantly. And it is very difficult to square that circle.’

Last week, the Church of England’s national safeguarding team announced that it had received ‘fresh information concerning Bishop George Bell’ and said that Sussex police had been informed, without providing any details of the ‘new’ information about the late Bishop of Chichester. It was subsequently reported that a new complainant had come forward.

The following day, the Bell Society convened a conference at Church House in Westminster, with the keynote speaker  as Dr Jules Gomes, the controversial pastor of an independent Anglican church on the Isle of Man.

Bishop George Bell
Courtesy of Jimmy JamesBishop George Bell

This led the Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, to attack the meeting as ‘outrageous’ when speaking to Christian Today.

The General Synod will discuss safeguarding policy at its meeting in Church House on Saturday morning.

Reflecting on the past five years in office, Archbishop Welby said that safeguarding was the hardest thing that he had to deal with. ‘It’s the hardest because you’re dealing with the Church’s sin. You’re dealing with profound human weakness. You’re dealing with the consequences in damaged people, in people who’ve been terribly, terribly hurt. And it’s heart-breaking. . .

‘I think we’ve sought to address it, both in mechanistic ways but also spiritually, in prayer, in attitude and culture. We’ve sought to address it in every way we can.’

Archbishop Welby has taken a leading role in defending the Church of England’s approach to Bishop Bell, having been involved in his name becoming public in relation to allegations. The Carlile report reveals an email from the Bishop of Durham on April 29, 2014 to the so-called ‘Core Group’ in the Church of England, which reads: ‘Dear All, At the meeting of Archbishops & Diocesans Archbishop Justin decided that he should inform those gathered of the possibility of the name of the person concerned becoming public in due course.’

The full interview with Archbishop Welby will appear in the next issue of the Church Times.

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January 19 2018 – “Welby under fire from academics over ‘dangerous’ handling of Bishop George Bell” – Christian Today – James Macintyre

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/welby-under-fire-from-academics-over-dangerous-handling-of-bishop-george-bell-report/123964.htm

Welby under fire from academics over ‘dangerous’ handling of Bishop George Bell report

Seven eminent academics have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, expressing their ‘profound dismay’ at the ‘irresponsible and dangerous’ position he has taken on the late Bishop George Bell following a report into abuse claims.

The Church of England was criticised in the independent Carlile report published in December for a ‘rush to judgment’ in its handling of the allegations against Bishop Bell, the former Bishop of Chichester who died in 1958. The report by Lord Carlile said that although the Church acted in good faith, its processes were deficient and it failed to give proper consideration to the rights of the accused.

George Bell
Lambeth Palace Libray

The signatories to the letter, leaked to the Daily Telegraph, now call on Archbishop Welby to retract comments he made in the wake of the report in which he said of Bishop Bell that a ‘significant cloud is left over his name’.

Professor Sir Ian Kershaw, one of the world’s leading authorities on the Third Reich, Professor Charmian Brinson, Professor Andrew Chandler, Professor John Charmley, Professor Michael J Hughes, Professor Jeremy Noakes and Professor Keith Robbins wrote: ‘None of us may be considered natural critics of an Archbishop of Canterbury.

‘But we must also draw a firm line. The statement of 15 December 2017 seems to us both irresponsible and dangerous.

‘We therefore urge you, in all sincerity, to repudiate what you have said before more damage is done and thus to restore the esteem in which the high, historic office to which you have been called has been held.’

Before the allegations were made public by the Church of England, Bishop Bell was known as a highly revered theologian who was widely regarded as a hero for his work helping victims of Nazi persecution.

But in a statement following the independent review by Lord Carlile of Berriew, Archbishop Welby left open the possibility that Bell was guilty, saying that he was ‘accused of great wickedness’ and apologised only ‘for the failures of the process’.

However, in an article today for Christian Today, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Hancock, who is also the Church of England’s lead bishop for safeguarding, reiterates his apology on behalf of the CofE at the time of the Carlile report’s release, saying: ‘In my statement when the report was published last month I said that the Church has always affirmed and treasured Bishop Bell’s principled stand in the Second World War and his contribution to peace remains extraordinary.

‘Yet at same time, we have a duty and commitment to listen to those reporting abuse, to guard their confidentiality, and to protect their interests. We recognise that Carol (who brought the allegation of abuse) has suffered pain, as have surviving relatives of Bishop Bell. We are sorry that the Church has added to that pain through its handling of this case.’

Bishop Hancock emphasises in the article that the woman known as Carol ’emerges from this [Carlile] report as a person of dignity and integrity, and her welfare must continue to be fully respected’.

In their letter to Welby, the historians – including two biographers of former Archbishops of Canterbury – said that they ‘wish to express our profound dismay with the position you have taken’.

They write that the current Archbishop’s position ‘offends the most basic values and principles of historical understanding’.

They continue: ‘The allegation [against Bell] is not only wholly uncorroborated but is contradicted by all the considerable, and available, circumstantial material which any historian would consider credible.

The letter, which was delivered to the Archbishop yesterday, goes on: ‘We cannot understand how such an unsupported, indeed insupportable, allegation can be upheld by a responsible public authority. Quite simply, it is indefensible.’

In his statement, Welby had noted that Lord Carlile did not decide on guilt, but the academics point out he was deliberately prevented from doing so by the terms of reference that had been set out by the CofE.

They write: ‘We state our position bluntly. There is no credible evidence at all that Bishop Bell was a paedophile.

‘We state this after reviewing all that is known about his character and behaviour over many years.’

They conclude that Bell has been ‘impugned from within his own Church of England’, adding: ‘There is today no cloud at all over Bishop Bell. Nobody employing credible critical method could think otherwise.’

The letter in full

Dear Archbishop,

We are writing to you following the publication of Lord Carlile’s independent review of the case of Bishop George Bell and the public statement which you have issued in consequence. We wish to express our profound dismay with the position you have taken. We are all academic historians of the twentieth-century who have, over many years of university research, made our considered assessments of Bishop George Bell. Our many publications will speak for themselves. Lecturing students of history and teaching them the various crafts and responsibilities of credible historical analysis and interpretation has been central in our careers. We regard George Bell as a significant historical figure and our assessment of his life and career has been an important aspect of our academic work. On this basis we suggest that our collective view on these matters constitutes a genuine and very pertinent authority. In your public statement of 15 December 2017, the authority of your position was used to perpetuate a single allegation made against Bishop Bell, and you did so in face of the independent review which the Church itself commissioned. We believe that your statement offends the most basic values and principles of historical understanding, ones which should be maintained

firmly by those in positions of public authority across society. They must never be ignored or abused. You have insisted that a ‘significant cloud’ still hangs over Bishop Bell. It deepens the impression deliberately conveyed by previous Church statements by adding, purposefully: “No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness.” On what ground does such a statement now stand? In the past you have insisted that the Church’s view was based on an investigation that was ‘very thorough’. But Lord Carlile has plainly, and utterly, devastated this claim. Historians and lawyers both attach great importance to the presumption of innocence. Your comment seems to imply that a case against Bell has actually been established. It has not. History cannot be made out of allegations. It is the study of sources. Lord Carlile’s review sets out the material of the allegation for everyone to assess for themselves, and he invites them to do so. There is nothing in it that connects in any way with what is firmly known about Bishop Bell. The allegation is not only wholly uncorroborated but is contradicted by all the considerable, and available, circumstantial material which any historian would consider credible. Furthermore, even on its own terms we find it to depend wholly on scenarios which simply could not have occurred, given what is firmly known and authoritatively established. There is no credible representation of personalities, relationships, patterns or locations which is remotely recognisable. Far from enhancing the allegation, the insistence on vivid quotations undermines critically a testimony in which the experiences of infancy are ‘recollected’, not immediately but at a distance of many decades. Even a modest historical sensitivity would have established the basic implausibility of such a testimony. The material supporting this allegation does not in our view constitute a credible basis for the writing of history and it flies in the face of our customary critical method. It represents something quite different, an unhistorical, indeed anti-historical, testimony, explicable, perhaps, but in different terms. We cannot understand how such an unsupported, indeed insupportable, allegation can be upheld by a responsible public authority. Quite simply, it is indefensible. You have written that Lord Carlile’s review does not pronounce whether Bishop Bell was guilty or not. Yet the Terms of Reference by which Lord Carlile was invited to work by the Church itself deliberately excluded this. Now we do not believe that your office in itself gives you the authority to pronounce on

the reputation of Bishop Bell in the manner you have done. We are prepared, in this letter, to claim that authority. We state our position bluntly. There is no credible evidence at all that Bishop Bell was a paedophile. We state this after reviewing all that is known about his character and behaviour over many years. This letter is not the place to set that assessment out in detail but in the further consideration which must now be surely given we would be very willing to set it out clearly. We note, and emphasize, that there was never so much as a whisper of such an allegation in his lifetime. It is the testing of accusations which shows the integrity of a society, not the making of them. It is in no way to impugn the sincerity of the complainant, or to resist the claims of compassion, to say that the allegation seems to us self- evidently mistaken. We believe that the historical figure of George Bell is safe in the hands of historians even though, very sadly, it would appear to have been impugned from within his own Church of England. There is today no cloud at all over Bishop Bell. Nobody employing credible critical method could think otherwise. Two of us are biographers of former Archbishops of Canterbury and we all acknowledge the many difficulties and pressures which any archbishop must face, not least in a position which Archbishop Lang once called ‘incredible, indefensible and inevitable’. None of us may be considered natural critics of an Archbishop of Canterbury. But we must also draw a firm line. The statement of 15 December 2017 seems to us both irresponsible and dangerous. We therefore urge you, in all sincerity, to repudiate what you have said before more damage is done and thus to restore the esteem in which the high, historic office to which you have been called has been held.

Professor Charmian Brinson

Professor Andrew Chandler

Professor John Charmley

Professor Michael J Hughes

Professor Sir Ian Kershaw

Professor Jeremy Noakes

Professor Keith Robbins

December 21 2017 – “Chichester under fire over George Bell claims” – Christian Today – James Macintyre

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/chichester-under-fire-over-george-bell-claims/121998.htm

Chichester under fire over George Bell claims

The Bishop of Chichester is under fire over his claim, made after the Carlile report into the Church of England’s handling of an allegation of sexual abuse against Bishop George Bell, that the Church did not proclaim the late Bishop Bell’s guilt.

The Mail on Sunday journalist Peter Hitchens, who has vigorously campaigned on behalf of the late bishop since the Church made public the claims against Bell in 2015, penned a hard-hitting letter to Martin Warner this week.

Bishop George Bell
Jimmy JamesBishop George Bell

In his letter, Hitchens focused on the impression that was left in the press after the Church issued a formal public apology and announced that it had paid £16,800 to the woman in question, known as ‘Carol’.

Hitchens wrote: ‘You said on Friday [the day the Carlile report was published], and yet again in your Radio 4 interview on Sunday that you had never proclaimed George Bell’s guilt. On Radio 4, you said ‘What we did not do and have not ever done is to make a clear statement which says “We have found George Bell guilty”. We have never done that’.

‘I must ask, in that case, why you did not write to The Times, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, the BBC, the Argus of Brighton or the Chichester Observer, correcting their reports of your statement, reports which proclaimed that George Bell was guilty? Is it possible that you did so and they ignored your letters? Or did you choose to leave the impression of guilt which your statement had created, which you now insist you had not intended to create? Had you written to complain, it would have been very helpful to my own unending efforts to get these media to change their tune.’

The Church of England was criticised in the Carlile report for a ‘rush to judgment’ in its handling of the allegations against Bishop Bell, who died in 1958.

The report by Lord Carlile said that although the Church acted in good faith, its processes were deficient and it failed to give proper consideration to the rights of the accused.

Hitchens dramatically clashed with Bishop Warner and Peter Hancock, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop, at the press conference for the release of the report on Friday, accusing the Church of behaving in a ‘Stalinoid’ fashion towards the memory of the late Bishop Bell.

The new Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner
The Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner

The columnist also raised the removal of Bishop Bell’s name from buildings, institutions and guide books in Chichester including from the former George Bell House. He said that ‘many mentions of George Bell have been excised from the Cathedral guide book, his name has been removed from the House which used to bear it at Bishop Luffa school where I should think you might have some influence, and also from a hall of residence at the University of Chichester.

‘I pointed out to you last Friday that even the Soviet Union had eventually rehabilitated those whom it had unjustly condemned in unfair show trials (whose memories, names and pictures were likewise removed from buildings, streets, photographs, encyclopaedias and so forth).’

Hitchens concluded: ‘The Church of England is surely judged by (and should regulate itself by) a higher standard than an atheist secret police state.’

A spokesperson for the Bishop of Chichester said: ‘We have received a copy of the letter and as it is a long, detailed document Bishop Martin will be responding in the New Year. There is no actual time to do it properly between now and Christmas as this is obviously a hugely busy week.’

Bishop Warner said on Friday: ‘Lord Carlile’s Independent Review is a demonstration of the Church of England’s commitment to equality of justice and transparency in our safeguarding practice. The diocese of Chichester requested this “lessons learned” Review.

‘We welcome Lord Carlile’s assessment of our processes, and apologise for failures in the work of the Core Group of national and diocesan officers and its inadequate attention to the rights of those who are dead. We also accept the Report’s recognition that we acted in good faith, and improvements to Core Group protocols are already in place. Further work on them is in hand.

‘The Report demands further consideration of the complexities of this case, such as what boundaries can be set to the principle of transparency. Lord Carlile rightly draws our attention to public perception. The emotive principle of innocent until proven guilty is a standard by which our actions are judged and we have to ensure as best we can that justice is seen to be done. Irrespective of whether she is technically a complainant, survivor, or victim, ‘Carol’ emerges from this report as a person of dignity and integrity. It is essential that her right to privacy continues to be fully respected.

‘The good deeds that Bishop George Bell did were recognised internationally. They will stand the test of time. In every other respect, we have all been diminished by the case that Lord Carlile has reviewed.’

Bell’s niece Barbara Whitley, 93, has said she wants the reputation of her uncle restored and has asked for a face-to-face apology from the Church of England.

‘I’m determined to clear his name before I die,’ she told the BBC.

December 18 2017 – “Archbishops at war. George Carey attacks Justin Welby over ‘unjust’ resignation demand” – Christian Today – James Macintyre

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/archbishops-at-war-george-carey-attacks-justin-welby-over-unjust-resignation-demand/121677.htm

 

December 14 2017 – “C. of E. set to publish report into the handling of George Bell ‘abuse’ case, but will it satisfy critics?” – Christian Today – James Macintyre

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/cofe.set.to.publish.report.into.handling.of.george.bell.abuse.case.but.will.it.satisfy.critics/121436.htm

CofE set to publish report into handling of George Bell ‘abuse’ case – but will it satisfy critics?

The Church of England is expected tomorrow to publish an independent report into its handling of an abuse claim against the late George Bell, the former Bishop of Chichester, after keen anticipation from his supporters that is likely only partially to be satisfied.

While critics of the Church are confident that the report is likely to be highly critical of procedures, any examination of the terms of reference makes clear that there will be no call for an apology from the CofE nor, crucially, any judgment on whether allegations from Bishop Bell’s accuser are true or untrue.

George Bell
Lambeth Palace Library The late Bishop of Chichester, George Bell

The objectives of the review as set out in the terms of reference are merely to ensure that lessons are learnt from past practice; survivors are listened to, taken seriously and supported; good practice is identified and disseminated; and recommendations are made to help the Church embed best practice in safeguarding children and adults in the future.

The Church is said to be bracing itself for criticism when it comes to past practice, but expectations among Bell’s fiercest defenders may be dashed.

In 2015 the Bishop of Chichester issued a formal apology following the settlement of a legal civil claim regarding allegations of sexual abuse by the late Bishop Bell, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until shortly before his death in 1958.

In November last year, the Church announced the Carlile review which it said was aimed at investigating ‘the processes surrounding the allegations which were first brought in 1995 to the diocese of Chichester, with the same allegations brought again, this time to Lambeth Palace, in 2013.’ The Church added at the time: ‘It will also consider the processes, including the commissioning of independent expert reports and archival and other investigations, which were used to inform the decision to settle the case, in order to learn lessons which can applied to the handling of similar safeguarding cases in future.’

Some critics, led by the Mail on Sunday journalist Peter Hitchens, have accused the Church of ‘delaying’ publication of the report from the review by Lord Carlile of Berriew into lessons learnt from the case, which was delivered on October 7.

But last month the Church issued a statement explaining that it was down to the ‘intensive process’ of ‘responding with feedback from those who contributed’ which includes ‘issues over factual accuracy and identification of “Carol”‘ the pseudonym for the complainant, in accordance to the terms of reference.

‘This is the process with all independent reviews, there is a period of a few months between receiving the first draft and final publication,’ the statement from a spokesperson for the National Safeguarding Team said.

The George Bell group and Hitchens have condemned the Church for allegedly disregarding the presumption of innocence in October 2015 when it publicised the claims by ‘Carol’, to whom it paid compensation.

Since then, Hitchens has regularly used his blogcolumn and Twitter account to attack the Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, over the handling of the case, and to speculate that the Carlile report is highly critical.

The Church said last month: ‘The review was not presented to the Archbishop of Canterbury, as has been stated. He will of course will read the final version, as he takes all safeguarding issues very seriously. It is being led by the National Safeguarding Team.’

Responding, Hitchens also last month told Christian Today: ‘The report concerns one issue, one case and its message that the secret trial of George Bell was wholly unfair is quite clear. There is no real reason for any further delay. There has been quite enough delay in the Church acknowledging that it made a grave and severe mistake by treating allegations against George Bell as proven facts back in October 2015. They then sought to claim falsely that critics of their action were attacking the complainant. It really is time they grew up and owned up.’

November 20 2017 – “Row as Church of England hits back over claims it is ‘delaying’ George Bell report” – Christian Today – James Macintyre

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/row-as-church-of-england-hits-back-over-claims-it-is-delaying-george-bell-report/119114.htm

Church of England hits back over claims it is ‘delaying’ George Bell report

The Church of England has hit back over the allegation that it is delaying publishing the Carlile report into its handling of an abuse claim against the late George Bell, the once internationally respected former Bishop of Chichester, saying it is ‘business as usual’.

The Church said in a statement that the delay in publishing the report from the review by Lord Carlile of Berriew into lessons learnt from the case, which was delivered a month ago, was down to the ‘intensive process’ of ‘responding with feedback from those who contributed’ which includes ‘issues over factual accuracy and identification of “Carol”‘ the pseudonym for the complainant, in accordance to the terms of reference.

George Bell
Lambeth Palace Library George Bell

‘This is the process with all independent reviews, there is a period of a few months between receiving the first draft and final publication,’ the statement from a spokesperson for the National Safeguarding Team said, with a Church source adding that ‘we are not delaying anything’.

The statement comes after fierce criticism of the Church’s handling of the case led by Peter Hitchens, the Mail on Sunday columnist and outspoken supporter of the campaign to clear the name of the late former bishop which is being coordinated by the George Bell group.

Hitchens — who condemned the Church for allegedly disregarding the presumption of innocence in October 2015 when it publicised claims by ‘Carol’, to whom it paid compensation — has regularly since used his blog, column and Twitter account to attack the Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, over the handling of the case, and to speculate that the Carlile report is highly critical.

The Church said: ‘The review was not presented to the Archbishop of Canterbury, as has been stated. He will of course will read the final version, as he takes all safeguarding issues very seriously. It is being led by the National Safeguarding Team.’

The full Church statement said: ‘We received the draft of Lord Carlile’s report in October and now, according to the Terms of Reference of the review, are at the stage of responding with feedback from those who contributed. This is quite an intensive process and includes issues over factual accuracy and identification of “Carol”. As the review website notes, the final version of the report will then be presented to the National Safeguarding Steering Group before publication. This is the process with all independent reviews, there is a period of a few months between receiving the first draft and final publication.’

peter-hitchens_877_1871668c
Peter Hitchens [“Original Christian Today ‘prison’ photograph replaced by this one” ~ Richard W. Symonds]

Responding, Hitchens told Christian Today: ‘The report concerns one issue, one case and its message that the secret trial of George Bell was wholly unfair is quite clear. There is no real reason for any further delay. There has been quite enough delay in the Church acknowledging that it made a grave and severe mistake by treating allegations against George Bell as proven facts back in October 2015. They then sought to claim falsely that critics of their action were attacking the complainant. It really is time they grew up and owned up.

‘If the Church had spent as much time thinking about whether to publish the smears against George Bell as it is about publishing the Carlile report, we could have been saved a lot of trouble.’

In 2015 the Bishop of Chichester issued a formal apology following the settlement of a legal civil claim regarding allegations of sexual abuse by the late Bishop Bell, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until shortly before his death in 1958.

In November last year, the Church announced the Carlile review which it said was aimed at investigating ‘the processes surrounding the allegations which were first brought in 1995 to the diocese of Chichester, with the same allegations brought again, this time to Lambeth Palace, in 2013.’ The Church added at the time: ‘It will also consider the processes, including the commissioning of independent expert reports and archival and other investigations, which were used to inform the decision to settle the case, in order to learn lessons which can applied to the handling of similar safeguarding cases in future.’

November 10 2017 – Quotations – “The treatment by the Church of England of the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, and that of the late former bishop George Bell, needs further scrutiny and reflection…” ~ James Macintyre…..”Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – George Santayana

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/hollywood-and-westminster-may-erase-people-but-the-church-should-be-different/118188.htm

Hollywood and Westminster may ‘erase’ people, but the Church should be different

The director and producers of the completed but unreleased movie All the Money in the World have chosen to remove Spacey from the movie, recast his role and reshoot his scenes following sexual misconduct allegations against the actor.

This news jogged the memory towards a column earlier this month by the Christian Today editor Mark Woods, who drew attention to the unforgiving nature of worlds such as Hollywood and Westminster, compared with the Church.

He wrote: ‘Let’s be clear: no one can justify Weinstein-like behaviour, in Hollywood or in Westminster. But anyone can denounce evil. The Church is called to go further: to call sinners to repentance, and to offer the full and free forgiveness of Christ to all who want it. It’s hard to argue for mercy when the whole world is howling for vengeance, but that’s what we’re for.

I thought of this again last night when peering over someone’s shoulder (no, I don’t read newspapers edited by partisan Conservative politicians) at the London Evening Standard’s main cartoon, a withering depiction of the Prime Minister, Theresa May.

Which in turn made me think back to this little diary item in the Mail on Sunday last month:

George Osborne’s fury at Theresa May for ditching him after the EU referendum has yet to abate. The former Chancellor – now editor of the Evening Standard – was told by a newspaper vendor close to his office: ‘You’ve really got it in for her, haven’t you, George!’ His ominous response? ‘I’m not finished yet.’

That rings true. Osborne is the epitome of the secular Westminster operator, a game-player who has devoted much energy into his drip-drip campaign of revenge against May, not because the two have much that divides them politically, but because she (apparently) told him to go away and ‘learn some emotional intelligence’ while dispensing with his services as Chancellor.

Osborne’s hubris was demonstrated when, in April, he finally bowed to pressure to quit the House of Commons after taking on the Standard job, saying he was leaving Parliament ‘for now’ as if being re-elected involved nothing more than reapplying to a top London club (and the most gossipy club in the capital, it is, too).

There is a wider point here: A good Christian would not spend months coldly issuing vengeful, repeated attacks on someone over such a disagreement. A good Christian would, for his own sake as well as that of others, forgive and move on.

But neither Westminster nor Hollywood remotely reflect the approach of the Church. Indeed, they are worlds apart from it.

Or at least they should be: the treatment by the Church of England of the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, and that of the late former bishop George Bell, needs further scrutiny and reflection, but that’s for another day.

In the meantime however, the Church should be wary of writing people off in the style of those Westminster types who say the career of a ‘disgraced’ politician is but a footnote against the headline of their mistake, or indeed those Hollywood types who ‘erase’ an actor from a film.