Archbishop urged to apologise

Dec 21, 2017 by

from CEN:

FORMER Queen’s Chaplain Gavin Ashenden has said that the Archbishop of Canterbury ‘must apologise or resign’, over his comments in 2016 that ‘a very thorough investigation’ was carried out on the case of accusation against George Bell.

Ashenden was referring to Archbishop Welby’s comments over allegations about Bishop Bell, when he said that: “On the balance of probability, at this distance, it seemed clear to us after very thorough investigation that that was correct.”

“If Justin Welby does not accept that Lord Carlile has cleared George Bell’s name, apologise for his role in making that more difficult and withdraw his spurious remarks about integrity of the ‘kangaroo court’ that released George Bell’s name into the public domain, then he should be called upon to resign. His judgement, his pride, and his much prized ‘management skills’ have proven to be flawed,” said Ashenden.

In a letter from Lord Carey to friends, reviewing the year, the former Archbishop commented:”Less desirable has been the shocking insistence by the [current] 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.”

Dean of Christ Church Oxford, the Very Rev Prof Martyn Percy, said in a statement:“Those of us who campaigned to clear Bishop George Bell’s name and re-establish his reputation welcome Lord Carlile’s report, and want to thank him for the thoroughness of his work.”

However, he points out “this is not an occasion for triumphalism”, adding that “the report makes it clear that there are now some important issues to be addressed’.

Percy said that there must be ‘continued care and support for the complainant who made the original allegations’, and adds that ‘the Church of England’s procedures for investigating allegations of this kind must now be urgently reviewed and the necessary reforms made’.

“Third, those individuals and institutions that rushed to judgment without sufficient evidence or due process must now revise their assessment of Bell, and so restore his saintly reputation and rightful place in the Church of England for generations to come,” he said.

But Peter Hitchens, the noted journalist who has campaigned in support of Bishop Bell, went further. Writing in the Daily Mail he said: “Archbishop Welby had a chance to stand for moral courage against the easy, popular thing. And he did the easy, popular thing. George Bell, facing much sterner tests in much tougher times, repeatedly chose moral courage over popularity. And that is why Justin Welby is not fit to lace up George Bell’s shoes, and why his pretensions to be a moral leader of this country are taken less and less seriously by thinking people.”

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