Carey's fury at Church over abuse case bishop: Ex-Archbishop accuses officials of destroying dead priest's reputation with unproven claims
By Jonathan Petre
March 6, 2016
|Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, pictured, called for a public inquiry into the Church's treatment of the late Bishop George Bell, who was accused of sexually abusing a woman in the 1940s|
|The church gave credence to the accusations against Bishop Bell, pictured, and even paid out compensation|
The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has lambasted the Church of England for destroying the reputation of a celebrated bishop over unproven child abuse claims.
In a fierce attack on the church he once led, Lord Carey said he was ‘appalled’ at the way it handled the accusations against Bishop George Bell – whom he said had been judged guilty without a fair hearing.
Bishop Bell, who served in Chichester for 30 years until his death in 1958, was renowned during the Second World War as a peacemaker and almost certainly would have been Archbishop of Canterbury but for his denunciation of the Allied bombing of Dresden.
But last year an unnamed woman alleged that he had sexually abused her in the 1940s. The diocese gave credence to the claims, issuing an apology and paying compensation.
Chichester cathedral has now renamed its education centre –previously called Bishop George Bell House – and plans to change its prominent memorial to the bishop.
But in a move that will embarrass his former colleagues, Lord Carey has added his weight to protests that the diocese’s investigation into the claims had been flawed and unjust, saying an individual had been crushed by a ‘powerful organisation’.
He said in a letter to Bishop Bell’s niece Barbara Whitley that he had been ‘frankly appalled by the way the Church authorities have treated his memory.’
He said: ‘Your uncle was a man whose contribution to this country and the Church was outstanding.
'He was without question one of the greatest Church leaders of the 20th Century… The Church has effectively delivered a “guilty” verdict without anything resembling a fair and open trial.
‘His reputation is in tatters and, as you sadly point out, all references to him in the diocese he loved and served have been removed and renamed.’
Lord Carey, who was Archbishop between 1991 and 2002, told The Mail on Sunday he wanted a public inquiry to scrutinise the matter.
But the Church has said that although it could not release full details of the investigation for reasons of confidentiality, it accepted the woman’s account as true.
The Church said allegations ‘must be taken seriously … however high profile the individual may be’, and that the process had been ‘long, complex and carried out with all the sensitivity a case of this nature demands’.
Lord Carey is himself facing questions over his support for convicted sex-offender and former Bishop of Gloucester Peter Ball, but says he has done nothing improper.