Archbishop Justin Welby has responded to today’s publishing of an independent report following the 2015 conviction of Bishop Peter Ball, and his response includes a request that former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, Lord Carey of Clifton, resign as honorary assistant bishop because of his mishandling of Bishop Ball’s abuse. From The Guardian:
Justin Welby said the report on the church’s handling of former bishop Peter Ball made harrowing reading. “The church colluded and concealed rather than seeking to help those who were brave enough to come forward. This is inexcusable and shocking behaviour,” Welby said.
“To the survivors who were brave enough to share their story and bring Peter Ball to justice, I once again offer an unreserved apology. There are no excuses whatsoever for what took place and the systemic abuse of trust perpetrated by Peter Ball over decades.”
In a statement, Steven Croft, the bishop of Oxford, said Welby had written to Carey asking him to “carefully consider his position”. Croft and Carey would meet “in the coming days for that conversation. In the meantime he has voluntarily agreed to step back from public ministry.”
Carey and Rowan Williams, another former archbishop of Canterbury, apologised to the victims of Ball after being criticised for their failures in relation to him.
The Guardian article includes background on the original accusations and conviction.
From the press release:
In her foreword Dame Moira states:
“This report considers the serious sexual wrongdoing of Peter Ball, a bishop of the Church of England who abused many boys and men over a period of twenty years or more. That is shocking in itself but is compounded by the failure of the Church to respond appropriately to his misconduct, again over a period of many years. Ball’s priority was to protect and promote himself and he maligned the abused. The Church colluded with that rather than seeking to help those he had harmed, or assuring itself of the safety of others.
We were asked to consider changes necessary to ensure that safeguarding in the Church is of the highest possible standard. The Church has made significant progress in recent years in its understanding of abuse. We have no doubt that the Church has a genuine commitment to meeting its responsibilities towards the victims of abuse. However we can see how difficult it is to make change across the complex structures of the Church. Progress has been slow and continuing, faster improvement is still required. It is the leadership of the Archbishops and Bishops which will determine whether change is effective.”
The report has 11 recommendations for the Church focusing on a range of issues including focusing on getting the right support in place for survivors, the leadership of bishops, strengthening guidance, reviewing the Archbishops’ Lists and the effectiveness of our disciplinary measures with regards to safeguarding related cases.
Receiving the report on behalf of the Church, Bishop Peter Hancock, the CofE’s lead safeguarding bishop, said: “I am truly sorry that as a Church we failed the survivors of Peter Ball; having read the report I am appalled and disturbed by its contents; as Dame Moira says in her foreword Peter Ball abused boys and men over a 20 year period and as a Church we colluded, we failed to act and protect those who came forward for help. There are no excuses. We accept all the recommendations and are working to action them.
“For the survivors, it may feel this is all too late. I am personally aware from my meetings with individual survivors in the course of my work that they live with the effects of this abuse for their whole life. I once again offer them my wholehearted apology. This Report affirms the direction and steps that we have taken to improve the consistency, robustness and rigour of our practice, but progress has been too slow. It has taken longer than it should have done, but we are absolutely committed to implementing Dame Moira’s recommendations and my role as lead bishop is to ensure this happens.”
Excerpted by The Guardian:
The report, An Abuse of Faith, published on Thursday, said Ball’s case was dealt with at the highest levels within the church. He “was seen by the church as the man in trouble who the church needed to help”.
Ball was portrayed as a victim, and the review found “little evidence of compassion for Neil Todd [one of Ball’s victims, who eventually committed suicide] even though from the outset it was clear that he was a vulnerable young man who had come to harm”.
It added: “The church appears to have been most interested in protecting itself.”
Gibb said the serious sexual wrongdoing of Ball “is shocking in itself but is compounded by the failure of the church to respond appropriately to his misconduct, again over a period of many years”.
The full report can be found here.
Photo of Justin Welby: By Foreign and Commonwealth Office – Mobilising Faith Communities in Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict, CC BY 2.0
Photo of Bishop Carey from Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly, YouTube