Church of England abuse review finds officials colluded with bishop who carried out abuse

Church of England abuse review finds officials colluded with bishop who carried out abuse

Former archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has been asked to step down as an honorary assistant bishop in Oxford after a damning review found that senior Church of England officials colluded with a bishop who abused young men.

Justin Welby, the current Archbishop of Canterbury, has asked Lord Carey to "review his position".

The Rt Rev Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford, has confirmed that Lord Carey has "voluntarily agreed to step back from public ministry".

It is in light of the damning independent review on how the CoE handled the case of Peter Ball, the former bishop of both Lewes and Gloucester.

Ball was jailed for 32 months at the Old Bailey in 2015 after pleading guilty to a string of historical offences, including two counts of indecent assault.

His victims were people who had sought spiritual guidance from him between 1977 and 1992.

During his time as bishop, Ball hand-picked 18 vulnerable victims to commit acts of "debasement" in the name of religion, such as praying naked at the altar and encouraging them to submit to beatings, his trial heard.

The review - called An Abuse Of Faith - speaks of collusion, protection and concealment over a number of years, but stops short of saying there was a deliberate cover-up.

Lambeth Palace's failure to pass on six letters of allegations against Ball to Gloucestershire Police while they were investigating in 1992 was its "greatest failure in these events", the review states.

It said that just one letter, which was of "least concern", was handed over and the overall impression "must give rise to a perception of deliberate concealment".

The letters came from a range of families and individuals who did not have an axe to grind, who were being constructive and were raising concerns which were all "either indirectly or precisely suggestive of sexual impropriety, or worse, by Ball", the review notes.

Ball was also given money that was authorised by Lord Carey, who was Archbishop of Canterbury at the time.

The review also states that Ball repeatedly let it be known that he "enjoys the status of confidant of the Prince of Wales" and "sought to exploit his contact with members of the royal family in order to bolster his position".

Church of England abuse review finds officials colluded with bishop who carried out abuse

It went on to state it found "no evidence that the Prince of Wales or any other member of the Royal Family sought to intervene at any point in order to protect or promote Ball".

Bishop Peter Hancock, the CoE's lead safeguarding bishop, said: "It is true that the Archbishop of Canterbury has written directly to Lord Carey and asked him to review his position.

"It is a matter for Lord Carey and for the Bishop of Oxford."

In a statement, the Bishop of Oxford said: "With reference to the criticism of former Archbishop George Carey in the report, the Archbishop of Canterbury has written to Lord Carey and asked him to carefully consider his position as honorary Assistant Bishop.

"As I hold responsibility for granting him a licence to enable him to carry out his duties, Archbishop Justin has asked Lord Carey to talk to me and we have agreed to meet in the coming days for that conversation.

"In the meantime he has voluntarily agreed to step back from public ministry."

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