Catholic-Anglican ecumenism pioneer was a paedophile

A Church of England bishop given the Anglican equivalent of a saint’s feast day was a paedophile, the church has acknowledged.

Bishop George Bell of Chichester, who died in 1958, sexually assaulted a child in the 1940s and 1950s.

The Church of England has issued a formal apology to the victim, who wishes to remain anonymous.

A legal claim for compensation has been settled.

The victim first came forward in 1995, but the complaint was effectively ignored by the then-Bishop of Chichester, Eric Kemp, who died in 2009.

It was not until the victim contacted the office of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Justin Welby, two years ago that the allegations were finally investigated properly.

Bishop Bell is revered for his role as a crucial ally of the German underground resistance movement under the Nazis and later as a peacemaker as well as a pioneer of the ecumenical movement.

He was a close friend of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the heroic German theologian.

He also counted Gandhi and Nehru among his friends and helped lay the foundations for the thaw in relations between Anglicans and Roman Catholics before Second Vatican Council.

He had close contacts with Cardinal Giovanni Montini, who later became Pope Paul VI.

The current Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, has written to the victim to express his “deep sorrow”.

Bishop Bell has an annual commemoration, the Anglican equivalent of a feast day, on October 3, the anniversary of his death.

A spokesman for the Church said would now be up to the General Synod to formally remove him from the calendar of commemorations.

But the spokesman signalled that Bishop Bell is unlikely ever to be commemorated again. The commemoration is optional.

Another former Chichester CofE bishop, Bishop Peter Ball, was jailed earlier this month for abusing 19 young men.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , , ,