George Bell and Paul Butler
Church of England

When did child abuse become the unforgivable sin?

 

The secret trial of Bishop George Bell still tolls. Having been convicted in absentia and post mortem of child abuse, we have since learned that the victim was a five-year-old girl and the compensation awarded to her by the Church of England’s Cadaver Synod was £15,000. ‘Carol’ has written at length about her abuse in the Brighton Argus. That was very brave. “He said it was our little secret, because God loved me,” she recalls, telling us of the four dark and lonely years of molestation she endured at the hands of one entrusted to be a shepherd of the sheep. It is harrowing and appalling, and the church is right to have listened and cared for ‘Carol’ with love and compassion.

But – and it’s a very important ‘but’ – the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev’d Paul Butler, who is also Church of England’s ‘Advocate for Children’ and chairman of the Churches National Safeguarding Committee, told the House of Lords that the Church of England was not convinced of Bishop George Bell’s guilt:

Secondly, I refer to what I said earlier: this is not to denigrate in any way the amazing work done by Bishop George Bell. He was an astounding man and leader of the church. But we also have to recognise that it is possible for great people to make mistakes. In fact, if noble Lords read very carefully the statements that have been put out, they will see that there has been no declaration that we are convinced that this took place. It is about the balance of probabilities and what might have happened if it had come to light at an earlier date (Hansard, 28 January 2016, Column 1516).

The Bishop has since provided “further clarity‘ on this comment: “The church therefore, having evaluated the evidence before them, accepted the veracity of the claims before them,” he now says. This “further clarity” appears to flatly contradict what the Bishop told Their Lordships a few weeks ago. Peter Hitchens judiciously fillets the schizophrenic inconsistencies:

If you are not convinced of claims that something took place, how can you simultaneously accept the veracity of those claims? This is incoherent and contradictory. Both cannot possibly be true. Where does that leave the Bishop of Durham who has now put his name to both statements, within a fortnight of each other? I have heard of being in two minds, but this is ridiculous.

Did the Bishop of Durham mislead the House of Lords? Inadvertent as it may have been, he admits: “my words were not as clear as they could have been”. Certainly, those who heard his words would have been led to believe – not unreasonably – that the Church of England was not convinced that this abuse took place. It might have done, but those who sat in the Cadaver Synod and listened to the victim’s testimony were not sufficiently convinced of the abuse to issue a statement of how certain and sure they were.

But let us for a moment accept that it all took place exactly as ‘Carol’ describes. Let us suspend audi alteram partem and entertain her testimony to the point of absolute veracity. It is one account by one victim. Why does that matter? It is no less of a sin than that of the serial predatory paedophile priest who preys on dozens of young girls and boys, raping and torturing his victims just to satisfy his perverted lust. But is it less of a vice? Is it less of a crime?

Christians convicted of any crime may, of course, be forgiven by God, but they must still bear the earthly retributive consequences of their actions. Yet Bishop George Bell has not been found guilty of any crime, as the Rt Rev’d Paul Butler explains:

There will be those who will be unsatisfied with the above process, desiring a decision to have been taken on a criminal test of beyond reasonable doubt. This was of course not possible due to George Bell having been long deceased. In any event it is entirely possible for someone who is found not to be guilty in a criminal trial to be found to have acted wrongfully in a civil claim.

The Church of England has found Bishop George Bell guilty of the vice and sin of child abuse “on the balance of probabilities”. His name has therefore been removed from the former archdeaconry which honoured his memory, and Bishop Bell School is also expunging all memory of the man.

What if a bishop’s widow comes forward decades after her husband’s death and tells the church that he used to punch her with his bare fists until her eyes were black and blue? Is wife-beating a lesser crime than child abuse? What if a bishop’s son comes forward decades after his father’s death and tells the church that his father used to beat him with the buckle end of a belt until he bled and grieved long nights in agony? Is the physical beating of children a lesser crime than fondling their genitalia? What if a bishop’s wife and son come forward decades after the man’s death and tell the church that this husband and father was no saint, but a serial drunkard and adulterer?

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.(1Cor 6:9f).

There is no specific mention of child abuse in this list, though we may not unreasonably extrapolate and extend meaning: some translations do render ‘fornicators’ more generically as ‘sexually immoral’. But note how the church now bends over backwards to understand and empathise with the struggles of drunkards, thieves, adulterers and homosexuals, and not only to the point of compassionate tolerance, but affirmation of choices made (or genetic predispositions endured) in this enlightened age of moral relativity. Why do we not care about the bishop who is infrequently drunk or living with his same-sex partner, but damn the bishop who abused a little girl at the age of five?

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Mt 18:6).

Is that it? Is it the matter of lawful consent? Is it such a graver sin to harm a child than it is an adult? What, then, do we make of ‘which believe in me‘? Is it a lesser sin to harm an atheist child than it is a Christian one? Of course not: the point is the huge burden of responsibility upon believers not to cause others to stumble. The children here are all who are weak, lowly and vulnerable. Not everyone may resist the snares and traps of alcohol and beautiful women or men. And idols? Do they not confront us with the perpetual threat of apostasy in a fallen world?

By judging the grievous sins of Bishop George Bell 70 years on, are we not in danger of distorting his sin in the half-light of contemporary societal magnification? If his known sin and contemporary public shame had been to have had consensual sex with a 18-year-old young man (in an age where no such consent was lawful), would that sin now now be expunged, his criminal record wiped clean and his reputation restored? What if his vice had been hebephilia instead of paedophilia? What if 70 years hence society inclines to the view that both are simply alternative sexual orientations, from which there is no genetic escape and no lawful or moral disapprobation?

And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (1Cor 6:11).

Bishop George Bell was a secret sinner. Who’d have thought it? How do we know he didn’t confess his covert crimes to his brothers and crawl to his Lord weeping for forgiveness? Is the Church not called to forgive with a pardon that knows no bounds? Is it not called to give all the benefit of doubt to the sinner? In a fallen world in which Christians – even bishops – may influence one another to evil, should we not be mindful that even all the good we do and all our righteousness is nothing but filthy rags before the Lord (Isa 64:6). The salvific cycle is sin, repentance and forgiveness – to be repeated seven times a day, if necessary. The cycle is not sin, conjectured hard-heartedness and ruthless reputation-trashing.

If George Bell abused ‘Carol’, he can and must be forgiven by the Church of England because he has been forgiven by God. There needs no increased allocation of faith, but simply the active exercise of faith which will prove adequate to the demands confronting us. If the name of Bishop George Bell is to be expunged from the Church’s calendar (Paul Butler says “no decisions have been made”), then all those saints whose feast days stand as memorials to their righteousness must beware: if, on the balance of probabilities, they are deemed posthumously to have committed a grave sin, they must be summoned to the Cadaver Synod of the Church of England, where expert, independent reports and contemporary testimonies will be weighed. And if the saints are found wanting, no school will thereafter bear their name.

Child abuse is a grave sin, but it is not unforgivable: it is not blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mk 3:28f). If child abuse is to become the sin that blots out all apprehension of goodness, generosity, kindness and moral virtue, then let us examine the lives of the sainted monks, bishops, abbots, hermits and martyrs of the past 2,000 years. We’re sure to find a secret sinner or two – on the balance of probabilities.

  • DTNorth

    I cant believe what I’ve just read.

    I’m damned sure if it was YOUR son or daughter raped by these “good” men, you would never have published the gushing apologetic diatribe above.

    Utterly shameful.

  • cacheton

    ‘Child abuse is a grave sin, but it is not unforgivable:’

    Careful Your Grace, you could be done for inciting violence. How many potential paedophiles might now indulge their fantasies for the only reason that they think they will be forgiven?

    ‘he can and must be forgiven by the Church of England because he has been forgiven by God.’

    But the Church of England is not God. And where is your coherent explanation of why you think he has been forgiven by God?

    ‘…active exercise of faith which will prove adequate to the demands confronting us…’

    But the demands confronting you are not to condone a particularly damaging sin which has grave lifelong consequences on other people (unlike other ‘sins’ that the church condemns), nor to incite violence. People down here on earth, where the C of E operates, will see you as doing one of those two things, if not both.

    Another nail in the coffin for ‘religious freedom’, and rightly so.

    • The Explorer

      It seems to me that there are three questions arising from HG’s post, and one from yours.

      1. Did he do it?

      2. If he did it, did he repent?

      3. If he repented, would God have forgiven him?

      4. If God forgives, does that give criminals incentive to continue with their bad ways?

      • cacheton

        Once you have answered yes to the first, if you were a person of faith you would have to answer yes to all the others too.

        I think there are many other questions arising, such as ‘If he repented after the first time, why did he repeat the sin? Because he thought he would be forgiven again? And again? And again? And …..

        The confusion of faith is laid bare.

        • The Explorer

          Yes,very good points.

          Given that we are fallen beings, An adulterer, say, might know that what he was doing was wrong, but blind himself to the fact while the affair was in progress, and then genuinely repent afterwards. If he genuinely repented during the affair, he would stop.

          Christ forgave the adulterous woman, but also said, “Sin no more.” Continuing the sin would mean repentance was not genuine. James makes the point that genuine belief will manifest itself in changed behaviour. (Belief itself is not enough: the Devils believe, and tremble.). Lapses are inevitable (in my view, anyway) but persistence in sin can become the unforgivable sin.

          There’s something in ‘Brighton Rock’ about a lethal fall from a horse, and repenting between the stirrup and the ground. A few seconds too late, and that’s your eternal destiny decided. I don’t remember it in detail, but it’s about the sort of point that you are making.

          • cacheton

            I see so there is repentance and genuine repentance. So – maybe the C of E should not forgive Bell then as maybe god didn’t either as his repentance maybe wasn’t genuine???

          • The Explorer

            No, there is insincere repentance and genuine repentance. (Like a kid saying it’s sorry because mum has said it must, and both you and the kid know that the kid isn’t sorry at all.)

            As to the repentance and forgiveness of Bell, I would first need to feel sure that Bell was guilty. Your assurance on this matter seems a great deal firmer than mine.

          • cacheton

            I have no assurance one way or the other, but I like the question of how the church reacts if something like this were true, because it exposes the confused nature of faith.

          • The Explorer

            Do you want faith to be confused?

          • cacheton

            What is the relevance of what I want faith to be? I think faith is inherently confused actually come to think of it, otherwise there would be no reason for it to exist.
            But to be credible theology surely should iron out its confusions.

          • The Explorer

            There is disagreement in all fields of thought. I listened to a radio programme about the causes of pollution in the North Sea. Six different explanations from six different scientists.

            Take ‘Romeo and Juliet’.

            “From forth the loins of these two foes
            A pair of star cross’d lovers take their life.”

            Does it mean a) owe their existence? or b) kill themselves? Could be either.

            Theology is not immune. Some issues will not be resolved until after the Second Coming. We can agree, for instance, that there will be final separation of redeemed from unredeemed. But whether the unredeemed continue to exist, or are annihilated, well, we’ll have to wait.

          • cacheton

            So you admit that things are open to interpretation, but still stick with your particular interpretation of Second Coming, redeem etc. Intriguing.

          • The Explorer

            Well of course there are different interpretations. I follow those I believe to be best. If better evidence turns up, I change accordingly. “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity”.

        • Martin

          Cacheton

          No, you wouldn’t have to answer yes to the last:

          What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
          (Romans 6:1-2 [ESV])

          • cacheton

            I personally know several people who use the ‘I will be forgiven’ line to do exactly as they please without thinking of the consequences or appropriateness or effect on anyone else of what they do.

          • Martin

            Cacheton

            Then I doubt they are Christians, if they are truly doing wrong and not just what you consider wrong.

          • cacheton

            But the point is THEY think and say that they are christians. Just like Bell. And who can blame them, they are only following the christian teaching that if you repent god will forgive you.

          • Martin

            Cacheton

            But what does repent mean?

          • cacheton

            You are asking me? Or is your point that if they have so misunderstood the teaching ‘if you repent god will forgive you’ they probably do not know what repent means? As far as I know it does not mean ‘You only get one chance to repent for a particular sin, if you do the same one again your repentance will not be accepted’.

          • Martin

            Cacheton

            You’re the one talking about repenting. Perhaps you need to read what the Bible says:

            What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
            (Romans 6:1-2 [ESV])

          • cacheton

            You seem to be misunderstanding my point on purpose.

            Bell was a christian. He knew that child abuse is sinful. Being a christian he believed that repentance would have his sin forgiven. Every time.

            So either: he did not repent, was not forgiven by god, and therefore there is no reason for the church to forgive him either
            Or: he did repent and believed he was forgiven, but also he must have known in advance that this was going to be the case (because he is a christian), which meant he could sin again and again and still end up being forgiven.

            Both scenarios are damaging to the church, giving a bad name to christians and christianity. It really is not hard to see why is it Martin?

          • Martin

            Cacheton

            I’m trying to address your ignorance of Christianity. I don’t know whether George Bell was a Christian, indeed I know little about him.

            But the fact is, a Christian is forgiven at the point where they become a Christian. All their past and future sins are covered by Christ’s sacrifice.

          • cacheton

            ‘But the fact is, a Christian is forgiven at the point where they become a Christian. All their past and future sins are covered by Christ’s sacrifice.’
            How convenient for clergy who are child abusers. Or are you now going to say that you don’t know whether christian clergy are actually christians?

          • Martin

            Cacheton

            So why do you think child abuse is such a dreadful thing? It was also convenient for King David who was a murderer, but his acts were not without consequences for him.

            There are many people whose wicked acts have been forgiven because they are Christians, even those who pretended God did not exist.

          • cacheton

            ‘So why do you think child abuse is such a dreadful thing?’

            I honestly can not believe you asked me that. What planet are you from?

          • Martin

            Cacheton

            I’m asking for your reasoning. The fact is that the worst thing you can do is to ignore the God who made you. Something you do all the time.

            Your problem is that you have a false idea of what is wicked, probably due to a failure to be aware of your own wickedness. You are condemned, you deserve eternal punishment, you are no better than the child abuser.

          • cacheton

            On what basis do you make these accusations? Does it make you feel good, ‘better’ than me?

            Why are you persistently ignoring my point? If future sins are covered by Christ’s sacrifice, what incentive is there not to sin? None.

          • Martin

            Cacheton

            No, I’m not better than you, I’m in exactly the same position as you except that I’m forgiven. The same offer of forgiveness is made to you, you choose not to accept it.

            I answered your point 4 days ago, with the quote from Paul:

            What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
            (Romans 6:1-2 [ESV])

          • cacheton

            If the church has forgiven Bell, it is because it believes that God has forgiven him. If God has forgiven him, then it is possible to live in sin, knowingly and repeatedly, and for grace to abound, therefore it would seem that the church has chosen to disregard that quote.

          • Martin

            Cacheton

            I see you’ve neither understood my post nor the quote.

    • Cacheton wrote (concerning the grave and complicated issue under discussion which seems to centre around the declaration of posthumous guilt by uncorroborated anonymous denunciation)

      >>Another nail in the coffin for ‘religious freedom’, and rightly so.<<

      OK Cacheton, so if that's your view would you kindly please define 'religious freedom' (which you apparently would like to be destroyed) in such a way as to distinguish it from other forms of freedom of thought, speech and association that you would like to defend (if any).

      • cacheton

        Firstly, I do not agree that the issue you mention is the one raised by the OP, which is whether, if guilty, Bell should be forgiven by the church. I see that most posters have displaced the issue into what you say it is, because they realise the quandary the church would be in if Bell really were guilty, and do not know how to deal with that without damage to the church.

        Religious freedom IS a freedom of thought isn’t it? But the more people see the right to this particular brand of freedom of thought as leading to condonement of abuse or incitement to violence, it is likely to be rejected – ie: nails put in its coffin. Freedom of thought will of course still exist, but the fact that the thought is religious will no longer grant it the freedom from scrutiny it still currently enjoys.

        • What you appear to be saying is that you support freedom of thought, as long as you, and the climate of public opinion that is being so carefully cultivated by those who have the motive and power to do so, approve of what is thought.

          And while yes the OP is about the issue of whether or not child abuse is ‘the unforgiveable sin’ the Bishop Bell issue (like the Cliff Richard, Leon Brittan and Lord Bramall Issue) IS indeed about the finding of guilt by anonymous denunciation.

          Do you really think that religious thought enjoys ‘freedom from scrutiny’? currently? I can think of quite a few things that can’t be criticised in the MSM or academia today, but religion is hardly one of them. Not Christianity anyway.

          • cacheton

            I do support freedom of thought of course, but when that freedom leads to words and actions which break the law, (as it could in this case as I explained in my post) then it needs scrutiny and debunking. It is not so much who approves of the thoughts, but why those thoughts are thought, which is becoming the reason for scrutiny.

            Yes I do think religious thought largely enjoys freedom from scrutiny, mainly from those who use it! In my OP I ask 2 questions – no answers yet though!

    • I think these are loaded questions, more intellectual stink bombs than a search for knowledge, but since you say nobody has addressed them, which I dispute, here goes.

      >How many potential paedophiles might now indulge their fantasies for the only reason that they think they will be forgiven?<>> And where is your coherent explanation of why you think he has been forgiven by God?<<<

      Evidently no such explanation is possible to this highly speculative question. We cannot know if Bell was guilty of this issue, if he was guilty, we cannot know if he repented. We do however know that the New Testament, to the relief and joy of sinners like me, offers a free pardon to all who truly repent.

      That offer remains open for now but is ending soon, and it even extends to proud and boastful unbelievers.

      • cacheton

        ‘…anyone who commits sin, any sin, because they assume they will be forgiven is very clearly a wicked person…’
        So all christians who commit sins are wicked people. I personally know people who use the line ‘Jesus loves me, I am forgiven’ to do what they like, and to continue doing things they know they shouldn’t. If Bell was guilty, he surely knew what he was doing was a sin. Every time. Christianity does not seem to have a method or even an incentive for people to turn away from sin, as it teaches that they will be forgiven if they repent.

        I am pleased to see you admit that it is the New Testament, not God, which appears to offer what you would like it to. And your coherent explanation that the NT describes what god does is …?

        • Cacheton posted

          >>’…anyone who commits sin, any sin, because they assume they will be forgiven is very clearly a wicked person…’

          So all christians who commit sins are wicked people.<<

          You have mangled and twisted my words, whether deliberately or stupidly. I said commit sin..because they assume they will be forgiven..' you left out the key clause. This excuses me from bothering to address the rest of your post.

          If you are interested in the New Testament, I suggest you read it. On this showing, your knowledge of it appears to have come from the Richard Dawkins handbook of slogans.

          If you are interested in the specific issue of Christians sinning (I am sorry to say that we all do) then John's 1st letter is a good place to start.

          • cacheton

            So — Bell committed sin but didn’t assume he would be forgiven? But repented presumably, being a Christian, and automatically was forgiven?
            I have read much of the new testament, and see no reason to believe it is the word of god, though there are of course many other reasons it is interesting. I am not a fan of Richard Dawkins.
            But the christian model seems to cover sins that people commit without knowing they are sins, subsequently discovering that they are, and then repenting and being forgiven. But people who KNOW they are committing sin, such as Bell, surely do so knowing that they can/will repent and be forgiven. If they are christians, how could they possibly think otherwise? I really would be interested in your response to my point.

          • You would really be interested in my response to your point?

            Which point?

            The NT tells us that we are all sinners, but that forgiveness is available through Christ for those who turn from our sin to Christ.

            I don’t know what part of that you honestly don’t understand.

          • cacheton

            This point.

            But people who KNOW they are committing sin, such as Bell, surely do so knowing that they can/will repent and be forgiven. If they are christians, how could they possibly think otherwise?

          • ‘Surely’….i.e. as you boldly assert. You appear not to have noticed the St Paul quote earlier about people who wickedly assert that God’s grace is a licence to sin. As I said earlier, if you want to understand what the Bible actually teaches, I suggest reading 1John.

            John writes that

            1) God hates, forbids and will punish sin
            2) Christians are not to sin
            3) regrettably, since we are broken people living in a broken world, we sin ‘if anyone says he has no sin, the truth is not in him’
            4) Christ has provided a remedy for sin which we are to avail ourselves of

            It is better to struggle against our sins and succeed incompletely than to laugh at or deny our sin.

          • cacheton

            1) Bell knew this
            2) Bell knew this too
            3) but used this as an excuse to prove that he had the truth in him by sinning knowingly and repeatedly
            4) and availed himself of his sin.

            This is exploitation of a theological loophole for one’s personal gratification, not incomplete success of the struggle against sin.

  • Anton

    I am commenting here on the relative gravity of child abuse, not on Bishop Bell’s case. Your Grace asks: “Is wife-beating a lesser crime than child abuse?… Is the physical beating of children a lesser crime than fondling their genitalia?

    Yes and Yes, emphatically.

    It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones – Jesus Christ, Luke 17:1-2.

    See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven – Matthew 18:10.

    For the second question, compare the testimonies of abundant adults who have been beaten as children with those who have been sexually abused.

    • cacheton

      So sin is relative but truth isn’t. i see.

      Are there different repentances too, to go with the relativeness of the corresponding sins?

      • Anton

        Actually ANY unforgiven sin is sufficient to keep you out of heaven on the Day of Judgement, which is why we need Jesus. However, some sins need dealing with on earth more severely than others.

  • The Explorer

    What troubles me about the whole episode is that – whether you are innocent or guilty – to be accused is to be destroyed.

    • Uncle Brian

      Exactly. And British law (unless it has changed recently, which I don’t think it has) doesn’t recognize slander or libel in the case of someone who is dead. So there is nothing to be done in that department.

  • IanCad

    Choose your battles carefully YG. In these days guilt is assessed primarily through emotion, image and a degree of hysteria. Facts, rationality, and the rule of law have little to do with it.

  • len

    All sin is the fruit of the fallen nature of man.It really is that simple.God does not judge people on a ‘sliding scale’ between little sins and big sins.
    God`s remedy for the sin nature of man is far more drastic than most people might imagine.God does not try to re educate the fallen nature of man because it is futile to do so.In Gods estimation every sinner deserves death. That is ‘the Bad news’ for us……because every one of us is a sinner …..

    ‘The Good news’ for us is that we do not need to suffer the punishment for our sins(all of them) because if we place our trust in our Saviour who took our sins upon Himself on the Cross at Calvary God sees us as having had our sin debt paid in full.We become redeemed brought back.
    But we have to view ourselves as God sees us, no excuses for our crimes , and this is where many fail because they refuse to confess their failings rather try to cover them.So total honesty is essential with ourselves before God.

    As for those who have passed into eternity it is probably too late if they have not confronted all their failings with total honesty and repented for them.

  • Sigfridiii

    If the authorities were not convinced that Bell was “guilty” (leaving aside the distinction between a criminal trial and a civil action) of child abuse, then the proper course of conduct was to maintain the anonymity of both accuser and accused, and if the long deceased bishop was guilty, he will anyhow in due course face a somewhat higher Tribunal than the kangaroo court assembled in Chichester.

    • Anton

      The accuser might wish to name herself publicly.

      • sarky

        If you had been abused, would you name yourself publicly?

        • Anton

          Some do, in hope of getting justice.

        • So, Sarky, do you hold to the feminazi belief that, since ‘no woman ever makes a false charge of sexual abuse’ that denunciation=proven guilt? and that therefore claims do not need to be tested, and that the accused are guilty by virtue of being accused?

          And have you ever been publicly falsely accused of sexual abuse? Because I have, and unlike you I am posting here under my real name.

          • sarky

            No I havent and I sympathise if you have been in that position and been found innocent, however, I believe victims (proven or not) have a right to anonymity.

          • Sarky, you appear to assume that all complainants are by definition victims. This is what the worst of the ‘Feminazis’ believe-no woman ever makes a complaint unless it is true, so what need have we of trial, process, witnesses or defence? If accused, then guilty.

            When I was a council estate GP several women consulted me in tears after they had been the victims of anonymous denunciations to social services. It was a not uncommon way of expressing spite or settling scores. the same thing happens in Pakistan, where Muslims use the blasphemy laws of that benighted country to attack their Christian neighbours in property and other disputes.

            In the hospital clinic where I work, male doctors must always have a female nurse chaperone when examining a female patient. Even if a female relative is present and the patient says they don’t need a chaperone. This is due to fear of false complaints of sexual abuse, every male doctor’s nightmare. To provide for this, nurses have been taken away from other duties and patient care has suffered. And I am taking a real risk by posting this.

            Be careful what you wish for. Once the presumption of innocence is lost for primarily male Christian men (curious they make up most of the accused, isn’t it?) it may be lost for others too.

          • sarky

            Not always women though is it.

          • >>Not always women though is it.<<

            No, but so what?

      • Sigfridiii

        That’s her call. Doing so will invite closer scrutiny of her claims.

    • cacheton

      ‘he will anyhow in due course face a somewhat higher Tribunal’

      So what? Apparently he knew in advance that that one would forgive him, if he had repented.

    • bockerglory

      I agree with you. There is a final judgement where all will be known.
      As for the alleged victim, she may have Münchhausen syndrome where they crave attention by becoming a victim.

      In my own family there have been incidents of this and the individual accused somebody of something very bad then later redracted the allegation and is now trying to find the person…. All based on a childhood memory and lots to of embellishments courtesy of a therapist.

      It reminds me of people who say they have been abducted by aliens.

      So am very suspicious of the motives of the alleged victim. Police encourage victims to go public to see if there are more victims elsewhere. If no victims come forward then it looks like a sad pseudo-memory or mistaken I identity.

      Also I think the alleged victim may have mistaken the identity of the individual. Where I live there are lots of houses called the bishops house.

  • carl jacobs

    A man denounces his neighbor to the NKVD and the neighbor disappears into the Gulag on the testimony of one man. We recognize in this event the possibility that the man decided to settle a grudge. Or maybe the man saw some advantage to be achieved – possession of an apartment now vacated or a new job suddenly unfilled. Or perhaps the man thinks “If I denounce my neighbor then perhaps I will be less likely to be arrested.” There is no evidence beyond the accusation so there can be no trial to test the evidence. The accusation is sustained by the extraction of a confession, and Soviet justice is satisfied.

    George Bell is dead. But he has been denounced by his neighbor so in good Soviet fashion his corpse is disinterred. There being no evidence beyond the accusation, there can be no trial. So a confession is extracted from the corpse ad litem. Soviet justice having been satisfied, the corpse is stripped of his reputation and dispatched back to the graveyard while the Earth is salted wherever his feet might have trod. All the while men in purple robes congratulate themselves on their courage.

    One suspects the lawyers got involved, because it’s hard not to see the following logic in all this.

    1. We can defend George Bell, but the public is predisposed to believe the charge against him. What if something comes out? That would be a PR catastrophe.

    2. We can throw his memory under the bus and position ourselves ahead of the controversy. We will present ourselves as enlightened and modern, while the only cost will accrue to a dead man. And his family of course.

    In its rush to protect its reputation, the CoE had now tacitly admitted that an accusation of child abuse against a priest is prima facia evidence of guilt. For in truth that is the sum total of the case against him. He was a religious figure, and he was accused. The shadow of the RCC and its cover-up falls wide in a secular society that desires to see nothing but hypocrisy in religion. We are all caught in the undertow of the RCC and its failings. And now the CoE has said to its accuser “You are right. We the religious are uniquely predisposed to such behavior, so the accusation must be presumed true. But not us, of course, or we wouldn’t be admitting Bell’s guilt.”

    It will pay for that act of groveling. Weakness does not earn respect. It earns contempt. The admission will be used only to confirm what people already believe about the CoEs moral credibility. Fools they are who sell out a dead men in hopes of saving themselves. The dead are nothing but a foil used by the living to attack the living.

    • Anton

      Your last sentence makes me think that you don’t believe the accuser, making me wonder on what grounds. I freely admit that I have no idea, and I am relieved that I am not a churchman having to deal with this. It would take very great wisdom indeed, and I’m not surprised that the CoE has mucked it up. The hard question is how the church should act, if it is not sure. In such a situation it cannot and should not either deny it happened or admit it. Nor should it behave as if it definitely did or didn’t happen. But what should it do? The answer has to come from grace rather than law, but what?

      • CliveM

        You ask good questions. In the current public atmosphere, whatever it does, it can only lose.

      • The Explorer

        Peter Hitchens’ blog account of the newspaper interview is worth a read.

        Apparently the accuser wrote to Rowan Williams, who replied to her. He apparently has no knowledge of the correspondence. She cannot produce his reply. It might mean nothing, or a lot. She says her mother worked for the Church during the time she was molested. We may hope that someone checked that that was indeed the case, and that times and places match.

        Apparently the Bishop saw her alone in his study on those occasions when she visited the Palace. Strange that he was always available. And did nobody wonder why?

        I may not be entirely accurate because I was in a hurry when I read Hitchens, the Brighton newspaper article, and the readers’ comments, but I hope that gives the gist of why there may be cause for concern.

        • Anton

          She says that she emailed Rowan Williams while he was Archbishop of Canterbury. I have no reason to doubt that his staff, who undoubtedly deal with messages sent to the Archbishop’s public email address, didn’t notify him of such a message; whatever you think of his theology, I believe he’d have remembered and wouldn’t lie. Perhaps they should have done, and certainly she should have made and kept a printout, but the more I read the more I think that for serious matters one should send a letter not an email.

          • The Explorer

            The Argos report simply says she wrote to Williams, which is ambiguous. But I think I was confusing it (I’ve now re-read the article) with a letter she wrote in 1995 to the then-bishop of Chichester. He replied to her, but she could not produce his reply.

      • carl jacobs

        I refuse to be examine the truth or falsehood of the charge. I am dismissing it outright. This charge can never be proved and so should never have seen public light. To even investigate it is to give it credence, and how does a man dead 57 years defend himself? How would you feel if he was your grandfather?

        An accusation is made, and we immediately examine the accused. You are asking the wrong question. Don’t ask why I disbelieve her. You should ask why I should believe her in the first place. For too many people the answer will be “He may or may not be guilty, but it sure is probable isn’t it. He was a Bishop. That’s what they are like.”

        • Anton

          If the accuser is willing to go public then she has the right of free speech. What do you think the church should do in response in such a case, with the media picking up on it?

          I have no idea whether he did it; neither do you.

          • cacheton

            But that question is not for us to decide. What is for believers to decide, however, is: in the event that he did do it, should the church forgive him? I think this OP lays bare the confusedness of faith.

          • Anton

            It might lay bare the problem of ordained church hierarchies, actually.

          • cacheton

            It might lay bare the problem of religious institutions – I mean, why go through the church when you can go to God and Jesus direct?

          • Anton

            That’s what Christians do (although ordination complicates the situation in some churches, not mine). But the church has collective features not shared by other collectives, which is why Christians need to act together.

          • carl jacobs

            How could anyone test the truth of this accusation? This charge is unprovable. Is there a corroborating witness who is even still alive? But the charge is out there now and people will believe it because they will want it to be true. This is just so wrong.

            with the media picking up on it

            Yes, this is the real issue. The CoE is savaging the reputation of a dead man to protect its own public image. This has nothing to do with justice.

          • Anton

            “How could anyone test the truth of this accusation?”

            Exactly.

            “This charge is unprovable.”

            And undisprovable.

            Suppose it is true. Treating the accuser with contempt (rather than respect), as you seem to be doing, would be a terrible thing – and not only in her eyes, but God’s.

            And as you don’t know it is false, you should not respond as if it is.

            The question is how the church should respond when it simply cannot know.

          • carl jacobs

            “Dear Defendent. You are required to disprove the charge against you.”

            When did this become a part of English Common Law?

          • Anton

            You’re a Christian; stop thinking about law and start thinking about grace.

          • carl jacobs

            What does that even mean in this context? To whom should I show grace? The accuser? And how would I show it? Should I believe her for the sake of her story?

            And what of the present day progeny whose family name is being torn to shreds without possibility of defense or redress?

          • Anton

            The question you ask in your 2nd para is an excellent one. The question I would ask it simultaneously with is “What if it happened?”

            The questions in your first para are those that I too am struggling with, but it is the Christian’s task to do exactly that, rather than dismiss them. If *we* don’t minister grace to the word, who does?

          • IanCad

            I have spoken with several people here in the UK who think exactly that. Never met an American who did.
            There is a lot to be said for a written, readily available constitution.

          • carl jacobs

            except my wife

            That’s because you are guilty by definition. Just apologize. Rules don’t apply to wives anyways.

          • cacheton

            ‘people will believe it because they will want it to be true’

            rather like the bible then

          • carl jacobs

            You’re humorous. Are you appearing all week?

          • cacheton

            Yup, ooooh carl you’re not offended are you?

            ‘…. and people will believe it because they will want it to be true. This is just so wrong…..’

            cacheton falls off chair laughing …

          • carl jacobs

            No, you can’t offend me on these matters. You can however annoy me by introducing cheap throwaway lines into this particular subthread.

          • cacheton

            That was not supposed to be a cheap throwaway line, though you are of course free to view it as such. The underlying reason you are having this conversation is because of your wish for the bible to be true presumably in order to have a ‘reality’ to live by (one in which you are at an advantage in relation to others of course), which is no different to these people you say might want Bell to be guilty without sufficient, or any, evidence because of their wish to see the church in difficulty, which they feel will then endorse their view of reality. Pots calling kettles black kind of thing.

          • Not offended. Bored.

          • cacheton

            You are right. It is completely boring to witness seemingly intelligent people writing things that they accuse others of whilst apparently not realising that it applies more to themselves than anyone else. It can be amusing aswell, and even frightening in some instances.

          • Anton

            Perhaps he’s appearing all weak.

          • sarky

            Funny how you don’t apply the same level of scrutiny to your beliefs.
            Creation, the virgin birth, the resurrection are unprovable with no corroborating witnesses still alive. Also people believe this because they want it to be true.
            When you apply this to the victim
            ‘Its just so wrong’, but when applied to your faith its acceptable and unquestioned.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            As you know, God is very much alive and His book is His testimony, the testimony of the one who cannot lie.

          • sarky

            His book that he didn’t write.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            On the contrary, as you have been told time and time again yet still forget, God wrote the Bible, using men as a man uses a pen.

          • sarky

            Of course he did.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            Glad you agree.

          • magnolia

            What bothers me most is that it makes peacemakers look bad in a time when some in the world would like war, that those who would like war do not like the Christian Church, especially the peacemakers in there, and that such people have ready access to those with the ability to implant false memory.

            It may all be coincidence, but it is a mighty convenient and timely one. However if the likelihood of war recedes they would not bother undoing any harm.

            I find the whole thing incredibly unlikely. Peacemakers are very rarely indeed molesters, because the whole sexual attack thing is about abuse of power, and such men are just not into force and power, but imagination and consideration. Someone has failed their Psychology 101 if this be a set up.

          • “because the whole sexual attack thing is about abuse of power”

            Not necessarily, Magnolia. It’s not necessarily all about force and power. That’s the ‘old’ feminist perspective. Paedophilia comes in different forms. Some men charm and seduce children and shower them with ‘affection’ in a distorted notion of ‘love’. This case may well fit this profile.

          • “The CoE is savaging the reputation of a dead man to protect its own public image.”

            Why assume bad faith?

            Based on the testimony of ‘Carol’, on the balance of probabilities, (i.e. what any reasonable would believe) the Church might actually accept she was the victim of sexual abuse and that they, as the employing agent of the bishop, should make restitution in some small way. They may also feel, as representatives of Christ, they have a greater responsibility towards helping her overcome any harm and trauma caused by the shocking crime, as opposed to protecting the reputation of a dead man.

          • Uncle Brian

            Exactly. Nobody knows. If the plaintiff can’t substantiate her accusations, the only thing for the court to do is throw them out. What if the accusation had nothing to do with child abuse but, say, theft — “when I was a choirboy in 1965, one day the vicar nicked a 10 shilling note I’d been given for my birthday, when I left it in my coat pocket in the changing room”? How far would anyone get with that?

        • “You should ask why I should believe her in the first place.”

          Well, first off, as an Archbishop, believing one is invested with responsibilities from God, you should at least take the time listen to her. But no, you “refuse to examine the truth or falsehood of the charge” and simply dismiss it outright.

          • carl jacobs

            This woman does not get special dispensation just because she cloaks herself with the mantle of ‘victim.’

            Before this woman is allowed to tell her story, the first question she should be asked is “Do you have independent corroboration for this 70 year-old accusation?” If her answer is “No” then you should not give her a hearing on the particulars. Why? Because the character of her story can never rise above the level of gossip. No investigation could possibly hope to confirm the story such that it could be considered more substantial. Would you destroy the reputation of a man and his family for the sake of gossip? Well the CoE evidently would.

            The Media will certainly run stories like this. It loves gossip because gossip sells. The CoE didn’t want to be put in the position of trying to prove the Bishop’s innocence in the face of a public predisposed to assume guilt (thanks, Rome). So it threw the Bishop under the bus to get ahead of the story. Far easier to follow the mob than to face it down.

          • CliveM

            Actually maybe we are being overly pessimistic. Unless there is some evidence we don’t know about, just how would it look to the press? I’m wondering if it would have been more sceptical of her claims then we suppose?

          • carl jacobs

            This isn’t about the dead. It’s about the living. The press would play it as further evidence of the true nature of religion – hypocrisy, deception, and falsehood. The truth doesn’t matter. What matters is that the story confirms the predisposed beliefs of the audience.

          • Except there is considerable “hypocrisy, deception, and falsehood” in the Church over this – both Catholic and Protestant. It needs to be exposed and part of this means being responsive to those coming forward with claims of historic abuse and being open about it.

          • CliveM

            I agree that the way the press plays these things is about agenda not truth. However I sense in the press (sections of it anyway) a growing unease with the various investigations taking place in what is known as ‘historic sex abuse’. I do wonder if with this change in sentiment, the CofE would have got a more sympathetic hearing in this case.

            I think the real risk is if the individual concerned, had taken the CofE to a civil court claiming damages. Here, with a much lower burden of proof then a criminal court, a verdict against the Church would have been very damaging.

          • It’s a woman recounting her experiences of sexual abuse as a child some 60 to 70 years ago. By definition, it’s unlikely there will be witnesses or corroborating evidence. That the nature of these crimes. They rely on the silence of victims because of shame. They also rely on the very attitude you are exhibiting here.

          • carl jacobs

            What attitude is that, Jack? Saying that a 70 year-old uncorroboratable accusation can never rise above the level of gossip? Saying that it is not impossible to investigate a crime of this nature 70 years after the fact? Saying that an accuser should not be considered truthful simply because she accuses? Which of these things is untrue?

          • The attitude that simply dismisses the need to listen to the woman who claims to have been abused because of time past, the absence of corroboration and because the person she has accused is dead.
            You’ve assumed the Church of England settled her civil claim and awarded compensation simply to look good. You’re assuming they considered her statement truthful because she accused. The fact is they appointed a panel to investigate her claims and after 2 years ruled in her favour.

          • carl jacobs

            Then show me the corroboration. If there was an investigation, then show me the results that substantiate the accusation, and I will withdraw my arguments.

          • You’ll need to approach the Church of England for that. Besides, Jack is talking about your presumptions and on principle refusal to even consider the matter.

          • carl jacobs

            Yes. Nuff said.

            You know, Jack. I don’t even have to ask you how you would respond to an unsubstantiated accusation against JP II. “I was raped by Karol Józef Wojtyła in 1946.” Yes, that’s a true mystery.

          • One hopes the Catholic Church would listen to the accusation and examine it.

          • Anton

            In the Old Testament God recognised that there could not be 2 witnesses to adultery and instituted a test in which he supernaturally revealed what had happened (the woman’s public trial by ordeal in Numbers 5, which is what noble Joseph declined to humiliate Mary by, in favour of a quiet divorce – or so he thought before the angel visited him). So in ancient Israel God acknowledged the problem of clandestine sexual sins. You might do the same.

          • carl jacobs

            You state a truth …

            the problem of real but clandestine sexual sins.

            … but then do nothing to connect this accusation to an actual clandestine sexual sin. When you can provide me with a supernatural test, then I will do as you say. In the meantime, I refuse to credit an accusation on the basis of nothing more than the accusation itself.

            This won’t stop with a bishop, you know. And it won’t stop with the dead. Anyone can be ruined by this technique – just so long as he is sufficiently unpopular or sufficiently vulnerable. Why do you think I started with a reference to the NKVD?

          • Anton

            Why do you think she is making the accusation?

          • carl jacobs

            I don’t know. Are you implying that only truthful accusations are made?

          • And not knowing the answer to that means all such accusations should be investigated and not simply dismissed.

          • carl jacobs

            After 70 years? Yes. If there is nothing but the story itself, then it should be dismissed. You said below …

            It’s a woman recounting her experiences of sexual abuse as a child some 60 to 70 years ago.

            No, it’s not. It’s a woman making an accusation that can never be substantiated. You have yet to explain to me why this is different from gossip, or why you would destroy a family’s name by giving it credence.

          • No, the Church should always listen and listen with an open mind, to any person claiming to have been wounded or injured by one of its ministers. Then it should discern, as best it can, whether there is substance to the claims and seek to make amends if judged necessary.

            This woman is either a very skilled and knowledgeable manipulator of truth who has fabricated a remarkably accurate account of sexual abuse, or she is telling the truth. Her account in the Argos – have you read it? – of the abuse and its impact on her life, certainly rings true and warranted an investigation by the Church of England.

          • carl jacobs

            And this is why we differ, Jack. You would convict on this testimony alone, and I would not.

          • Not sure about that at all. However, Jack would listen and examine the words of the claimant as best he could. He would not simply dismiss them.

          • Anton

            Not at all. I’d like to know what you’d say if she said to your face, “You are doubting me without being prepared to say why. Please tell me.”

          • carl jacobs

            I have spent this entire thread saying “Why.” My default position in this matter is “doubt” because it is the only just position to take. She bears the burden of proof. If she wants me to not doubt, she has to overcome my doubt with corroboration. She cannot demand credibility before the fact and ask me to justify my presumption of skepticism. Especially not after 70 years.

          • Anton

            I agree with you, except that your expressed position to date has not been doubt but denial.

          • carl jacobs

            Because the case is insufficient and can never be anything but insufficient, I must consider the accusation false for the sake of the reputation of the accused. Equivocation would only serve to convict by implication.

          • Anton

            Trouble is, in being overly fair to Bell you are being overly unfair to “Carol”. Even if we can’t know where truth resides, to discuss this properly is to examine both sides, not one.

          • carl jacobs

            There is nothing to examine. Once you determine that the accusation stands alone, what else can you do? You either reject the accusation and therefore the accuser, or you equivocate and by implication smear the accused. You are right that I am preferring the accused to the accuser. And deliberately so. The accused deserves the benefit of the doubt. For the sake of that principle, I reject an unsubstantiated accusation.

            This case could have been investigated in 1946. Now it is dead as stone. It is brutally unjust to convict a dead man of a dead charge in the court of opinion like this.

          • Anton

            “You either reject the accusation and therefore the accuser, or you equivocate and by implication smear the accused.”

            Your use of the word “smear” is justified only if the accusation is false; but you can’t know that, as you have said yourself. That is inconsistent.

          • carl jacobs

            I presume the charge to be false until something can prove truth. That makes insinuation a smear. Once people believe it “might” be true, the accused is ruined. So tell me how to protect him from this.

            You asked me what I would say to the accuser. What would you say to the family of the accused?

          • Anton

            That an accusation has been made and can they please cooperate in looking into it, eg by digging out old papers and diaries, because if they believe their man is innocent it will be in their interests to do so.

          • Anton

            “Before this woman is allowed to tell her story…”

            Isn’t that called freedom of speech?

    • “We are all caught in the undertow of the RCC and its failings.”
      That was unnecessary. You think all the allegations there against dead men were true too? All organisations where adults have access to children will be faced with toe spectre of child sexual abuse.

      • carl jacobs

        The RCC engaged in a broad effort to cover up what was happening. That unfortunate choice was never just going to affect Rome. It was seized by those who wanted to tar all religion with guilt by association. The accusation against this Bishop originates in Rome. It doesn’t matter if it is true or not. What matters is that the association can be created for ideological impact.

        It didn’t have to be Rome that initiated this, but the historical fact is that the Roman scandal did ao.

        • The Catholic scandal has resulted in a general awareness that child sex abuse exists across all faiths and across all denominations. So to say the “accusation against this Bishop originates in Rome” is misleading. It’s also implying it’s a spurious allegation. Perhaps you meant the response to the allegation was influenced by the Catholic Church’s cover-up and the resultant negative publicity.

          More accurately, one should say that accusations against priests and bishops are not dismissed out of hand anymore. We know priests and other ‘Holy men’ really do sexually abuse children. These people are no longer untouchable, thank God. Teachers, doctors, lawyers and all sorts of other professionals with access to children do so too. The children take make years to come forward – if they do so at all. Nowadays, the climate has changed and victims are much more likely to disclose abuse and that’s no bad thing.

  • CliveM

    In this country we seem to be in the grip of hysteria with regards sexual assault, whether of adults, teenagers or children. To be accused means you are guilty. What is frightening is that even if the complainent is a well known fanatiisist with mental health problems, the police will label them as compelling and true and issue dawn raids.

    Recently I read in a paper of a man charged with the sexual assault of a woman (including manual penetration) which went to trial even though the CCTV showed them passing at a busy train station, in less then a second and wth his hands full.

    Fortunately the jury had more sense then the PC Plods and quickly found him not guilty. But he had a year of hell.

    In such a febrile atmosphere what hope justice? It’s not just the religious who are automatically seen as guilty, it’s being male as well.

  • dannybhoy

    “How do we know he didn’t confess his covert crimes to his brothers and crawl to his Lord weeping for forgiveness? Is the Church not called to forgive with a pardon that knows no bounds?”
    Without diminishing the importance of compassion and forgiveness, I think perhaps this is what is missing in our congregations..

    “”5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this?” 1st Corinthians 5>

  • The church authorities were right to have given the alleged victim a patient hearing and to have shown her kindness. Equally, they had a responsibility to protect the reputation of George Bell who may have been innocent. As things are, it is now impossible to know the truth, because the victim waited too long – so the man, if innocent, deserved the benefit of the doubt, as much as the victim (assuming she is one) deserves justice.

    As it is, too many troubling questions are left unanswered in this case.

    The bishop was long deceased when his accuser came forward with these allegations. Why did she wait for so long – for decades? She was only five at the time, and few people can recollect the faces of non-family members they knew at that age with any degree of precision – or the length of time when something went on. Could she have imagined all this and convinced herself that something happened, when it didn’t? A false memory of abuse in early childhood is not unheard of. If the bishop was indeed a paedophile, why have more people not come forward to substantiate these claims – as often happens in such cases?

    I wonder what purpose is served by exposing someone long dead to public disgrace – especially someone who has done much good. He is, whether innocent or guilty, now immune to the goings on in our world, and will stand before a higher Judge. His family and friends will suffer vicariously from the shame and the public reaction to this expose’ – which seems a bit unfair

    • Malcolm Smith

      This, of course, is the crux of the matter. It was one thing to give the alleged victim the benefit of the doubt, pay her compensation, and provide counselling as required. It is quite another to then announce to the world the name of her alleged abuser, who could not possibly defend himself, especially since the church was not convinced of his guilt, and where the information could not possibly be of any value.
      This was a case where confidentiality would have been the appropriate response.

      • My guess is she’s elderly, probably hasn’t got long on this Earth herself. Having had the trial now going public is the only retribution she can get for him. She must have thought about the shame it would bring on his family surely and come to the conclusion that what he did to her warranted it.

      • The dead deserve to be treated with the same respect as the living. In my view, it was wrong to expose George Bell’s memory to public disgrace without sufficient proof.

  • “Is it such a graver sin to harm a child than it is an adult?”

    Taking this as a general question about the sexual abuse of children by ordained ministers, one has to answer with a very loud “Yes”. To rob any child of his/her sexual innocence is a grave offence. For a person who represents Jesus Christ on earth to misuse his position to do so magnifies the potential spiritual and emotional harm of such an offence exponentially.

    “The salvific cycle is sin, repentance and forgiveness”

    Agreed …. but part of the salvific cycle is also making amends through punishment and restitution for one’s sin. The harm caused by one’s sinful actions has to be mitigated. Any person seeking forgiveness for sexually abusing a young child should be required to go into a police station and publically confess their crime.

  • David

    I find this to be relatively simple, far simpler indeed that many controversies.
    The Church was right to listen patiently to the account.
    But one is innocent until proven guilty and therefore the only rational, fair and legal position is that now, as he is long dead, we will never know the truth.
    Therefore the assumption of innocence must stand.
    That’s it !

    • sarky

      Does that apply to jimmy saville aswell?

      • magnolia

        There is a difference between grades of evidence, isn’t there? In the case of JS there was overwhelming evidence which went back to complaints made to the police while he was still alive, and many well attested eyewitness accounts, and dodgy relationships e.g with Peter Sutcliffe . Accusations even included one from his own relation, a nephew I think, who had been cold-shouldered by other family members when he had raised the issue. That is of a very different ilk to this, unless you don’t do gradations…..

        • sarky

          The implication was innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
          If that was what was alluded to, the same must apply to saville.

          • magnolia

            It’s complicated by the fact that “balance of probability” has had to pertain to both.

            It is a great shame that the reputation of a person of George Bell’s stature should rest upon the balance of probability, but I cannot see an obvious way out of it.

      • With Jimmy Saville there is corroborating evidence from the testimony of more than one victim and dates, times etc. can be verified. Therefore, it is different.

      • David

        Looks like your question has been answered for me by several well informed “regulars”, with whom I concur.

  • magnolia

    Having further read the statement it is clear that it had to be assessed under civil law in which the balance of probability is the legal principle, and not as per criminal court where “beyond all reasonable doubt” prevails.

    However much we might prefer the latter the Church seems to have had no choice in the matter.

    • Ivan M

      Arguments from probabilities are imposters – Plato (I think)

      • Anton

        More crap from Plato, the philosopher who wanted us all to be ruled by philosophers! The notion of probability, ie how strongly the assumed truth of one binary proposition implies the truth of another, underlies all legal proceedings, for the aim is to work out the probability that the accused is guilty (or innocent) given the evidence. Of course a number cannot be given in practice in almost all cases (except DNA evidence), which is why people use qualitative criteria such as “beyond reasonable doubt”, but the principle is still probabilistic inductive inference. Assuredly it is not a coincidence that the 6 or 7 men who quantified the notion of probability in the 17th century were lawyers or sons of lawyers. The first applications of the quantitative theory were all to gambling, but that is merely a selection effect, for gambling provided problems that were too complex to be solved by unaided intuition yet were simple enough to be solved by the first mathematicians into the subject. For more on how probability emerged from law, see James Franklin’s book The science of conjecture.

        • Ivan M

          When the evidence is based on DNA or a smoking gun or a dice throw, I suppose it possible to assign a probability as to its occurrence, since they have an objective existence in the probability space. But here, the “balance of probabilities” is subjective, since it possible to totally disbelieve Ms Carol’s testimony and assign her account a probability of exactly zero, or believe her and assign her account a probability of one. But this is only a function of the adjudicator’s assessment of the value of Ms Carol’s testimony. For all we know, she could be lying.

          • Anton

            View it like this: it’s still about probability, but the mathematical theory of probability is no practical use in this case.

            Incidentally the “presumption of innocence” is a logically incoherent notion, because if you enter the courtroom assigning probability zero to guilt of the accused then no evidence whatsoever can ever change that, and you ascribe all evidence to the contrary to outlandish coincidence or whatever. (That’s Bayes’ theorem.) In order to be fair, you need to enter the courtroom with a prior probability of guilt equal to something like the reciprocal of the population. Then evidence can change your assignment appropriately.

          • Ivan M

            So everybody is guilty in your world.

          • Anton

            Please explain how you derive that conclusion from what I said, because If you think it follows then you don’t understand inductive reasoning; let me give an example to make the point.

            Suppose the population of a desert island is three. They have one knife between them. One morning one of the three is found dead with the knife stuck in him. You are captain of a ship which calls in, and you arrange a trial. Each survivor denies doing it. Because there are only two possible murderers you start by assigning a probability 50% to each; as you absorb the evidence that number will go up for one of them and down for the other, always adding to 100%.

            A presumption of 50% likely to have committed the crime before the trial even starts is not a presumption of innocence, is it? Yet if you do not do that then you are blatantly violating the rules of logic, because one of them did it for sure.

          • Ivan M

            Well you did write that the accused should bear a mark of guilt based on the reciprocal of the incidence of rape in the population. This is a small but non-zero value. On thinking about it, I should have said that as a physicist you have constructed a state compounded of both guilt and innocence with the collapse to one or other state coming after some measurement – here the evidence. Please do not query me about my knowledge of quantum mechanics as I have only a bluffer’s understanding of it.

          • Anton

            I won’t query you; I’ll try to explain it, because it’s not an accurate analogy. I have no taste to win arguments by blinding with science and if I fail to explain a point to someone then I consider it my fault.

            Here’s why it’s not a good analogy. I’m talking about a situation in which one or other man killed the guy; the trouble is that we don’t know which. In quantum mechanics you don’t have an either/or like that; your “mixed states” are ones in which both guys actually killed him.

            If you think that’s bonkers, it’s because life on the subatomic scale is very different from life on the everyday scale, and we educate our intuitions in the latter.

            But I’ve tightened up my critique of the notion of presumption of innocence, as follows: Suppose your ship calls at a desert island which had a population of three, and you find one man with a knife through his heart and the other two each denying they did it. To presume that either is innocent is necessarily to presume the other guilty. You can’t presume they are both innocent, as law requires, even at the start of your investigation.

          • Ivan M

            Coming back to your example. In your contrived situation everything is neat and tidy. If this works so well why do we often find that a person found guilty of murder turns out to be innocent? How do you compensate such a man for his lost years and reputation? It is precisely in order to such obviate such a situation that there is a presumption of innocence. The pragmatics overwhelm the logic everytime. It is for the state to find a man guilty not for the man to exonerate himself of what could after all be trumped up charges. Suppose your captain drops anchor in London and finds a bloody knife? How is he going to arrange to interview everyone of the ten millions?

          • Anton

            I contrived my situation so as to make the point that “presumption of innocence” is not a logically coherent notion. If there initially were 4 people on that island (not 3) then to declare one of them innocent at the start of the investigation is still to bump up the probability you must assign to the others being guilty, and deny them that same presumption. The notion is based on the fact that there are large populations in practice, so you start off with almost everybody having probability one-millionth or whatever, which is tiny. But it can’t be zero, because zero means that you are cast-iron certain the guy in question didn’t do it, and if you are cast-iron certain then no amount of evidence can sway you: you will explain it all away somehow.

            Even in the 3-man island case, so that there are only 2 suspects, it might still be impossible to decide between them. It’s not so neat and tidy.

          • Ivan M

            There is no logical incoherence to the presumption of innocence if you look at it as an attribute of an accused in the English system of law. It is like another one of the attributes that an accused is supposed to have, such as a sound mind. It is not a proposition that can be either true or false. It is an objective attribute – a possession – that the accused possesses by virtue simply of being an accused.

          • Anton

            You can’t presume that the only two suspects are both innocent in the situation I set up to make the point, can you? To presume one is innocent is to presume the other guilty.

          • Ivan M

            Inasmuch as the two suspects appear before the assizes in court, they are each separately endowed with the attribute known as the presumption of innocence. Outside in the coffee shops and back-alleys, everyone apparently knows who did it.

          • Anton

            Can you explain to me what “presumption of innocence” means in the case of a 2-man population of suspects, please, even when you apply the notion to just one of them?

          • Ivan M

            Presumption of innocence would apply even in a one man situation. For otherwise why go through the trouble of a trial when all that is left is to find a suitable tree. I refer you to the countless examples set by lynch mobs throughout history.

          • Anton

            That’s due process, which I distinguish from presumption of innocence. I strongly support due process.

          • Ivan M

            Then you are playing word games in a closed system. Which is what the usage of logic amounts to here. The situation in the example you set up is, it may be granted trivially true. Note that by trivial, I mean an immediate deduction – it is true, that all things remaining constant, there no way to escape from the island, there is no fourth man, and so on so forth, one or the other man is guilty. But what of it? Which situation in the world is your model describing? And further. more importantly, it does not address my point, that the “presumption of innocence” is an attribute, or property, of an accused, like the colour of his eyes for example.

          • Anton

            I am not playing word games. I am trying to explain a deeper concept to someone who isn’t willing to genuinely listen. I choose small population systems to make a logical point, not a point about large populations, and then you claim that they don’t reflect the real world without considering the logical point.

          • Ivan M

            I know exactly what you tried to convey. To wit, that there is a finite probability though possibly minuscule of any one accused of being guilty, and therefore there should be no presumption of innocence on the part of the accused. This troubles your sense of logical coherence. I have shown you a way out of the impasse by treating it as a property of the accused.

          • Anton

            Probability isn’t owned by anybody, nor is it a right. Perhaps the notion of presumption of innocence means that the authorities can’t jail someone until they have been found guilty by due process, rather than what probability of guilt to assign before the evidence is presented; I’d have no problem with that – it is entirely laudable – and it is why I asked you what you understood by the phrase.

        • carl jacobs

          The uncertainty of the proposition in this case is a function of time. After 70 years the covariance has been propagated so long and so much system noise has been added that the resulting uncertainty is insuperable. And there is no possibility of a measurement update to collapse it back down.

          It is not possible to make a reliable conclusion in this case.

          • Anton

            I agree! So why are you ignoring the allegation, which is equivalent to coming down on one side?

          • carl jacobs

            To defend the presumption of innocence.

          • Anton

            That’s an intellectually incoherent notion. Suppose your ship calls at a desert island which had a population of three, and you find one man with a knife through his heart and the other two each denying they did it. To presume that either is innocent is necessarily to presume the other guilty.

          • CliveM

            Anton

            But the legal presumption is that both parties are innocent until evidence is found to determine one or the others guilt.

            Indeed we can see in UK courts the outcome of this. Several years back a couple where charged with the murder of their child. The child had clearly been murdered and the parents, either one or the other, had to be the murderer. However both maintained their innocence and blamed the other and the police had no evidence that confirmed which one was guilty, just that at least one of them was. My memory is unclear but either the case was dismissed by the judge or they were found not guilty by the jury, but because of the presumption of innocence, they were both cleared. So both are innocent. Legally speaking at least.

            So in the case of your island, both would be presumed to be innocent and in every legal sense, would be treated as such.

          • Anton

            To presume one innocent is to presume the other guilty; that is what the laws of logic say, and they outrank the laws of England.

          • CliveM

            Really? To be honest your’law of logic’ has no practical purpose, it’s the Law of the land that decides if the couple in my example are innocent or not and it has decided that it cannot identify one of them as being guilty, so in the absence of other evidence, both are presumed to be innocent of the murder.

            One of them has to be the murderer, but both have the rights of an innocent citizen.

          • DanJ0

            I think that’s true … unless they can prove joint enterprise.

          • CliveM

            Yes agreed.

          • Anton

            Probabilities must always add to one, but you can make a *decision* not to convict either of them when the probabilities are 50:50. (I support that decision, in fact.)

            I am using the same laws of probabilistic reasoning that have extremely valuable practical purpose when DNA evidence is involved.

          • CliveM

            I think it should also be said that the legal presumption of innocence, is not the same as saying a person is innocent. It means that you have the right to be considered innocent and it is for others to prove otherwise. There is no onus on the individual to prove their innocence.

            So in that sense, your Island example, doesn’t apply.

          • Anton

            I’ve tried to explain elsewhere on this thread that “presumption of innocence” actually means “start by assigning a very very small probability of guilt to the accused, before you start listening to the evidence”. (Not a zero probability, because if you are utterly certain that he didn’t do it then no amount of evidence will change your mind.) That is appropriate when the population is large, say a million, you you begin with a probability of one millionth of guilt, which is very small. That is the case in practice in all trials today, and THIS is why my island example doesn’t apply. It does, however, serve to show the sloppiness in the notion of “presumption of innocence”.

          • CliveM

            Anton

            You need to look at this through the prism of the law, not science :0)

            The law doesn’t recognise any such apportionment. No one is a little bit guilty, you r guilt has either been proven or you are presumed innocent.

            In US law, according to the Supreme Court, the presumption of innocence is “best described as an assumption of innocence that is indulged in the absence of contrary evidence” Taylor v Kennedy 1978. Typically in criminal law, this has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. There is a difference between ‘suspicion’ and ‘presumed innocence’. They are not mutually exclusive.

          • Anton

            Yes, it is the job of a legal system, often delegated to a jury, to make a decision, guilty or not guilty. What they do is work out the probability of guilt (not numerically, except perhaps in DNA cases, but the concept is the same) and then come up with a decision, based on criteria like “beyond reasonable doubt”. If they find guilty, it does not mean they believe the probability of guilt = 1, but just something close to it. Of course the press can then say that the accused did it without fear of libel, etc.

          • DanJ0

            I suspect you’re talking about ‘Baby P’. They were all convicted of causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult under Section 5 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 because the police couldn’t determine which one had actually done it.

          • CliveM

            No I’m not thinking Baby P, I will try and find it when I have access to proper IT. It may even pre date Internet.

          • Anton

            What you are doing here is confusing probability theory and decision theory. Probabilities must always add to one, but you can make a *decision* not to convict either when the probabilities are 50:50.

          • carl jacobs

            That’s an intellectually incoherent notion.

            Blackstone would be shocked. Indeed the whole of English Common Law is overthrown.

            We don’t live on a desert island and a juror is not an investigator. The presumption of innocence is not a statistical inference. It is an a priori assertion of presumptive bias in favor of the accused and it is imposed upon a jury.

            We are placed in the position of the jury in this case, and we owe the accused that presumed bias. You have already admitted the case cannot be adjudicated successfully. So, Mr Juror, how do you find – guilty or not guilty. “We don’t know” is not an allowed verdict.

          • Except this was a civil claim against the Church of England which could not simply be cast aside and the standard of proof is the balance of probabilities.

            Expressing that in percentage terms, if a judge concludes that it is 50% likely that the claimant’s case is right, then the claimant will lose. By contrast, if the judge concludes that it is 51% likely that the claimant’s case is right then the claimant will win.

          • CliveM

            There is also no concept of guilt or innocence.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            There is absolutely no way to meet any reasonable standard of proof in this case. It should never be allowed inside a Court.

          • A civil claim was raised and the Church of England settled.

          • carl jacobs

            Which says everything about expectation of risk and nothing about legal sufficiency.

          • You may or may not be correct.

          • carl jacobs

            Yes, Jack. And when you get a call from your grandson who tells you he is in a Mexican jail, and needs you to wire money right away for bail, it may or may not be true.

          • Such a claim would be easy to confirm or deny – with 100% certainty.

          • carl jacobs

            Yep.

          • Anton

            I’ve gone into this in more detail below. Presumption of innocence makes *practical* sense in a population of millions, because you start with a probability of guilt of the accused of less than 1 in a million, which is very close indeed to zero – but isn’t actually zero, because zero means certainty of innocence and absolute certainty is not changeable. In the case of a 2-man population the presumption of innocence of one is the presumption of guilt of the other, isn’t it? Time to answer the question rather than ignore it. You can’t give both men low probabilities to start with, because your probabilities don’t then sum to one, which is absurd.

            “You have already admitted the case cannot be adjudicated successfully. So, Mr Juror, how do you find – guilty or not guilty. “We don’t know” is not an allowed verdict.”

            Aren’t you forgetting something? I am not a juror in your courtroom and you are not a judge. I did not “admit” that the case cannot be adjudicated successfully, either in response to you or anybody else. I said it spontaneously early on in this thread, stating that the difficulty was how the church should manifest grace in a situation in which it can’t know. That is a more constructive discussion.

  • Are there any other victims? And why didn’t ‘Carol’ say anything before he died? She must be getting on a bit herself now? Is she of sound mind? What were the circumstances of her abuse? Let’s have it all out in the open before we condemn anyone.

    • Anton

      Why didn’t she say anything before he died? Given our libel laws isn’t the answer obvious?

      • Except that 1958 was a whole other age and time when it came to an awareness of child sexual abuse. Her life would have been ruined if such an allegation had been made then. She’d have probably ended up in an asylum. Priests and bishops just didn’t do such things prior to 2002.

        • Anton

          We’re agreeing, Jack. My first question was a repetition of Marie’s, and my second was my answer to it, phrased as a question itself.

      • She could have reported him to the police when she was of age 18 or 21 and taken him to a criminal court. Did he rape her at all?
        I guess she was married and had a family by then and the sexual revolution of the 60’s fate would have been on his side so yes she might well have ended up in the loony bin as HJ says.

        I imagine it’s been gnawing away in her all these years, but she needs to forgive him, and leave it to God to dish out the retribution.

        • Anton

          If he did it then Yes she does need to forgive, for her own sake. I have not made any attempt here to estimate how likely he is to be guilty.

  • “And if anyone hurts the conscience of one of these little ones, that believe in me, he had better have been drowned in the depths of the sea, with a mill-stone hung about his neck. Woe to the world, for the hurt done to consciences! It must needs be that such hurt should come, but woe to the man through whom it comes!”
    (Mathew 18: 6-8)

    These are clear words that suggest being the agent of harm to the spiritual development of children is up there with the most grievous sin. Jesus didn’t use the word “Woe” too often and when He did it signified a very grave offence indeed. It sounds very much like His denunciation of Judas.

    “But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
    (Mathew 26:24)

    • Ivan M

      It is possible to exaggerate the harm done. When I was about seven or eight, a shopkeeper took me to the corner and exposed his penis to me. In return he gave me a pencil. When my mother found out that I had got the pencil for free, she told me to return it. A few years later when I became a teenager, I made it a point to always fix that man with a stare. He invariably cast his eyes down when he saw me.

  • The Explorer

    If child abuse is not the unforgivable sin for God, it is certainly the unforgivable sin for society. As I’ve commented before, it’s as if having said that anything goes in regard to the sex act, society wants to reassure itself that it still has standards, and in this one respect it applies them with the utmost rigour.

    There’s inconsistency, of course. The age of consent, for a start, varies from one EU country to another. And although here it’s still sixteen (when it isn’t eighteen), contraceptives are okay for a girl of fourteen, provided she’s having sex with a boy of fourteen. One could argue that two underage kids are doubly breaking the law, but it doesn’t seem to pan out that way. It only becomes a problem if the male is over sixteen.

    I don’t see the logic, but I might well be missing something.

    • The sexual abuse of a child by an ordained minister of God may well be such a grave offence that it terminally ends one’s living relationship with Christ and closes off all hope for salvation. Think of the life long consequences for many of the victims and the physical, emotional and spiritual harm it causes. And then reflect on the words of Jesus’ in Mathew 18: 6-8.

      • The Explorer

        I agree with that. My point is, how come underage sex for a girl is okay (or seems to be) provided the male is also under age? And why is it okay in Italy at fourteen, but in France only at fifteen?

        • It’s called moral relativism. In a right minded world, sex would be confined to marriage. This is how the original ages of consent were set. In the sexual free for all that is the modern West, the ages of consent are arbitrary. Don’t look for any rationale.

        • Ivan M

          It is there in Lolita. “She was a fawn, I was a fawnlet.” – Humbert Humbert. Abuse by older persons on the other hand, should be severely punished, in order to protect the young from predators.

          • Anton

            Nabokov was putting a lie in Humbert’s mouth there. Humbert was a generation older than Lolita.

          • Ivan M

            IIRC he was not referring to Lolita when he said that, though I could be wrong.

          • Anton

            Ah, OK.

      • Martin

        HJ

        Except, if a sinner is saved by grace they cannot be condemned by works. If God has saved no work of Man can unsave.

        • Depends on how grace works, Martin, and whether salvation is a once in a lifetime event or a process in which we participate.

          “But he who endures to the end will be saved.”
          Matthew 24:13:

          “Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”
          1 Corinthians 10:12

          • Martin

            HJ

            If grace is of God, how can we participate in it. We are the recipients alone.

            As John says:

            They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (I John 2:19 [ESV])

            Only those saved will endure and even those who are saved can fall, but they will rise again

          • “Only those saved will endure and even those who are saved can fall, but they will rise again.”
            Yes, they are just truisms. It’s all about time. The saved are, by definition, in Heaven. The issue is man’s cooperation with grace and the role of free will.

          • Martin

            HJ

            So once God has saved them they’re in Heaven. What they gonna do, shake the gates & demand to be let out?

            What didn’t you understand about:

            For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
            (Ephesians 2:8-10 [ESV])

            Can you show me where that talks of our cooperating?

          • Pointless exercise, Martin. Been there; done that; and bought the t-shirt.

            The William G. Most “Solution”

            The solution to predestination/foreknowledge: There is no time in God, but one thing may be logically before another. There are three logical points in His decisions on predestination:

            1) God wills all men to be saved. This is explicit in 1 Tim 2:4, and since to love is to will good to another for the other’s sake, this is
            the same as saying God loves us. To deny that is a horrendous
            error, it denies the love of God. How strong this love is can be seen by the obstacle it overcame in the work of opening eternal happiness to us: the death of Christ on the cross.

            2) God looks to see who resists His grace gravely and persistently, so persistently that the person throws away the only thing that
            could save him. With regrets, God decrees to let such persons go: reprobation because of and in view of grave and persistent resistance to grace.

            3) All others not discarded in step two are positively predestined, but not because of merits, which are not at all in view yet, nor
            even because of the lack of such resistance, but because in step 1, God wanted to predestine them, and they are not stopping Him. This is predestination without merits.

            This can also be seen from the Father analogy of the Gospels. In even an ordinarily good family: 1) the parents want all the
            children to turn out well. 2) No child feels he/she needs to help around the house etc. to earn love and care. The children get that because the parents are good, not because they, the children are good. 3) Yet the children know that if they are bad they can earn punishment, and if bad enough long enough, could be thrown out and lose their inheritance.

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2006/04/molinism-middle-knowledge.html

          • Martin

            HJ

            You will note that the quote from Patheos, as one would expect, gives no Scripture references, and you haven’t responded to my question.

            1. That God wills does not mean that this is what God seeks to happen. Otherwise you need to say that God was helpless over the introduction of sin into our World, His Creation.

            Secondly the Bible is explicit, God does not love everyone:

            As it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.

            What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
            (Romans 9:13-18 [ESV])

            God has actively rejected some in history, condemning them and withdrawing His restricting power, while others, such as Saul of Tarsus, He has saved despite their enmity.

            2 & 3 are nonsense addressed above. Indeed the claim “This is predestination without merits” is illogical nonsense.

            It should also be noted that God is father to those adopted in the Son not all. As to the possibility of those saved being ‘thrown out’ that clearly goes against what Jesus says in:

            My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.
            (John 10:27-30 [ESV])

          • “This, first of all, I ask; that petition, prayer, entreaty and thanksgiving should be offered for all mankind, especially for kings and others in high station, so that we can live a calm and tranquil life, as dutifully and decently as we may.

            Such prayer is our duty, it is what God, our Saviour, expects of us, since it is his will that all men should be saved, and be led to recognize the truth.”
            (1 Timothy 2: 1-4)

          • Martin

            HJ

            So how does that contradict what I have said? None will come to God, as Matthew Henry puts it:

            “God has a good will to the salvation of all; so that it is not so much the want of a will in God to save them as it is a want of will in themselves to be saved in God’s way. Here our blessed Lord charges the fault: You will not come unto me that you may have life, John v. 40. I would have gathered you, and you would not.”

            so God saves those He destined to save before the foundation of the Earth.

            And you haven’t addressed my points in my last two posts.

          • Er … so God wills that all be saved but does nothing or offers nothing to the reprobate? He decrees that certain people be saved, those he chose before the world was created? And, he also hates some men? How is all this consistent?

          • Martin

            HJ

            Salvation is offered to all, they are to blame for not seeking it. They are to blame that their sin causes God to abandon them and harden their hearts. But out of that mass of rebellion God plucks some, as burning sticks are plucked from a fire and extinguished.

          • chiefofsinners

            “The saved are by definition in heaven.”
            Yes.
            Ephesians 2:4-6.”Because of His great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved- and God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”
            The next few verses are also unequivocal about the basis of salvation.

          • IanCad

            Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Where does it say when we die we immediately go to Heaven or the some other place? What about the Judgement?
            The dead are in the grave.

          • chiefofsinners

            2 Cor 5:1-6

          • IanCad

            Chief,

            Those verses cannot be used as proof texts for an instantaneous entrance to Heaven, or to the other place some believe in. For, were such to be the case, it would negate the Resurrection for which their is more than sufficient scriptural evidence.

            Rather, your cited text refers to the percieved immediacy of the great event after death:

            “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1 Cor. 15:52 See also Job 14:12,21

            And, of course, we can expect no privileges that were not granted to King David upon our own demise:

            “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.” Acts 2:29

          • chiefofsinners

            No, the spirit is with Christ from the moment of death. The body is later resurrected, transformed and reunited with the Lord at His coming.
            Note how Stephen, as he died, looked into heaven and seeing Jesus said “Lord, receive my spirit.”
            And Paul in Php 1:23 “I desire to depart and be with Christ which is far better.”

          • IanCad

            But that is the “Spirit that returns to God who gave it” it does not have consciousness, nor character, nor being.
            It is not a living soul – to which state the redeemed will return after the Resurrection.
            To believe that the dead are alive is to fall for Satan’s first lie:
            “You will not surely die” It is the scaffolding of spiritualism.

          • chiefofsinners

            The believer’s spirit and soul pass into God’s presence at death and the body remains in the ground until reunited at His coming.
            Read about it in 1 Thess 4:13-18

          • IanCad

            You’re getting there Chief. The soul however, cannot exist without the body, therefore only the spirit returns to God who gave it.
            Through tradition and culture we have been raised to believe unquestionably many things that cannot be supported by the Bible.
            Sunday Worship, the State of the Dead, the Immortality of the Soul, and the verity of an Eternal, Ever-burning Hell are the biggies.

          • chiefofsinners

            What scripture do you have to support your assertion that the soul cannot exist without the body?

          • IanCad

            Chief,

            For me at least, I find the following verses pretty persuasive:

            “—and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7

            “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”
            Ecclesiastes 12:7

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” – Luke 23:43

            Clearly the repentant malefactor was going to be in paradise with Jesus, but without his body.

          • IanCad

            GM,
            Often used as evidence for immediate transfer to Heaven; with a little examination it will be seen as an invalid supposition.
            Two quick points, without resort to texts that refute such claims:
            Christ didn’t go to Paradise that day. In the original texts there was no punctuation. The comma between “thee” and “today” was supplied.
            Had the mark instead, been placed after “today” it would have placed the emphasis on certainty rather than immediacy and rendered the meaning more in harmony with other passages.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            IanCad

            I don’t know why you say that “Christ didn’t go to Paradise that day”, unless you are assuming that Paradise is here synonymous with heaven, not an assumption that is justified. Although the words “paradiso” and “paradis” have long been used in Italian and French to refer to heaven (and cognate words are no doubt used in the same sense in other Romance languages), that was not the original meaning of the word. It refers to the abode of the righteous in the Intermediate State.

            That Jesus was speaking to the penitent malefactor “today”, i.e. on that very day, was so patently obvious that there was no need whatever for him to mention the fact. The malefactor cannot possibly have imagined that perhaps Jesus was speaking to him on some other day, and so there could be no misconception of that kind to correct or forestall.

            ‘Had the mark instead, been placed after “today”…’

            But it wasn’t; and as you have conceded, there was no punctuation in the original text. I have just shown that, if the insertion of a comma is necessary to clarify the sentence, there is no justification for inserting it after “today”, although I know that cranky sects like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Seventh Day Adventists like to use that trick because they want to cling to their belief in the “psychopannychia” or “sleep of the soul” after death, although that notion has scant support in the New Testament.

            ‘“Paradise” is rarely mentioned in the New Testament (2 Cor. xii. 4; Rev. ii. 7). It is used for the intermediate abode of happy souls in Hades. The separation of “today” from the promise, and the explanation “Today, I say to thee, thou shalt be with me in Paradise,” though as old as the Gospel of Nicodemus, is only due to ignorance.’ – FREDERIC W. FARRAR, The Life of Christ, 1894.

          • IanCad

            GM,

            As a “cranky” SDA I’m not so sure how your resort to ad hominen will get us anywhere; but, neverthless I’ll have a crack at responding to the perfectly legitimate questions raised. This also addresses CoS’s posts. So as to minimize work please consider my responses to one as to both.

            Going back to Genesis; the soul is the sum of the spirit and the dust. At death the spirit returns to God. It is not the soul. The soul does not exist after death.

            Christ alone hath immortality. (1 Timothy 6:16)

            The doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul is, primarily, a Greek construct. Plato, Socrates et al were imbued with the theory. Sure – it goes back further – visit Egypt. The thing is, it infected Jewish thought during the intertestamental years, and thus, entered Christianity in dribs and drabs until Augustine up an ran with it.

            Greek philosophy – “cunningly devised fables.” Already in the early church. (1Peter 1:16)

            To Paradise!! — The dwelling place of God, The Holy City, The New Jerusalem. That which comes down the earth after the millennium. It cannot be that the thief went there immediately, the Resurrection had to come first.

            The Apostles Creed dosen’t even hint about the soul. It instead emphasises the resurrection of the body after judgement.

            Christ raised three from the dead. Of course they were souls. The soul ceased at death and when the Word was given we can only believe that the spirit was again given to the body.

            As far as Elijah was concerned, he didn’t die but was taken up in a whirlwind. Same with Enoch, he didn’t die either.

            It was probably unkind of me to recruit a dead parrot to boost my side but I couldn’t resist.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            For most of the Old Testament, the concept of a future life is absent. I appreciate that you can make a very superficially plausible case for your belief by selecting OT verses in which the word “soul” is used to mean merely “life” or “living being”.

            However, the theory that people remain in oblivion between death and the Last Day is not the teaching of the New Testament, and is contradicted in numerous places.

            For example, the story of Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of the Transfiguration centuries after they had died cannot be reconciled with the theory.

            In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, both are fully conscious in the next world while this world is still in existence. It is rightly said that the details of a parable must not be unduly pressed, but even so Jesus would never have told the parable in that form if he had believed in the psychopannychia theory.

            Paul says, “We are full of confidence, I say, and actually want to be exiled from the body and make our home with the Lord”, which makes no sense if the soul cannot exist without the body. Paul also speaks of someone – generally assumed to be himself – who was caught up into Paradise “whether in or out of the body, I do not know; God knows”, which again is meaningless unless it be possible for the soul to experience things apart from the body.

            He also says, “I want to be gone and be with Christ which would be very much the better, but for me to stay alive in this body is a more urgent need for your sake.” Here he contrasts two modes of existence: the latter in the physical body, and the former not in the physical body. He could hardly be with Christ if he had no soul which could exist and experience the presence of Christ without his body.

            In the first Epistle of Peter, we are told that Jesus, after dying and before his resurrection, went and preached to the departed spirits in prison. Even if Jesus be regarded, despite his full humanity, as an exceptional being who could be conscious even though physically dead, to speak of him preaching to lifeless beings would be nonsense.

            You are allowed to disagree with the biblical writers if you wish. What is not admissible is to pretend that what the New Testament writers believed on this subject is what you believe. It clearly is not.

          • IanCad

            GM,
            I read your post and shall offer no counter on this thread.
            Perhaps later, if the subject comes up again, we can get into it a little deeper.
            I enjoyed the disputation.
            Ian

          • chiefofsinners

            Eh? Genesis says nothing about what happens to the soul after death, it just describes the moment of creation

            Ecclesiastes is the musings of the teacher as he tries and fails to fathom God. Not a book on which to build doctrine. Quite apart from which, the verse you have quoted doesn’t even mention the soul.

            Why do you contradict mainstream doctrine in such unequivocal terms without a shred of theology behind you? Are you just making it up?

          • IanCad

            Chief; No soul after death.

            Nothing, it is no more.
            It has ceased to be.
            It’s stone dead.
            It’s expired.
            Kicked the bucket.
            Run down the curtain.
            It is an Ex-soul.

            Eccl. 12:7 is quite clear that it is the spirit that returns to God therefore no soul.

            Your last point is a doozy. That you, of all the bloggers here, could suggest that mainstream or majority opinion be granted special credence goes against all commonsense, history, and biblical example.

            The people called for a king: They got Saul.
            Elijah was assured that there were still some who had not yet bowed the knee to Baal.
            They cried for the food of Egypt; They got quail. Lots of them.
            How many was it that got on the Ark?
            Pilate offered them Christ: They chose Barrabas.

          • chiefofsinners

            I have previously pointed out to you the scriptural evidence for the life of the soul after death: Rev 6:9, Rev 20:5. 1 Thess 5:23.
            Then we have those Jesus raised from the dead, and also Elijah. What are we to make of these? Did they live on without souls?
            I have no objection to those who deviate from received Christian doctrine, so long as they do so on a sound scriptural basis. You however are confidently asserting false doctrines which you cannot defend.

          • IanCad

            Chief,
            In due respect of time, and with the prospect of a late lunch coming up, I have included my response to you in my reply to Guglielmo, below.
            I know you were the first, but there is, somewhere in Scripture, that says they will be the last.

          • IanCad

            See below.

          • chiefofsinners

            Getting where? I’m quoting scriptures which directly contradict your false doctrine.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            The bodies of the dead are in the grave. They themselves are in the Intermediate State.

          • chiefofsinners

            Oy! I told you about those verses yesterday. There are much better ones you could use to support your (erroneous) belief that salvation depends on works.

          • Lol …. Jack was just being lazy.

      • Anton

        Your posts make me think we share the same view of the magnitude, depravity and utter horror of the sin at issue here, Jack.

        • It’s a horror beyond horror, Anton.

          • Anton

            I agree.

          • Except here the Church of England, after an investigation, concluded “probably” and not “maybe”. The “maybe” was presumably what led to the investigation in the first place. Not the criminal standard of “without a doubt” that some are mistakenly demanding.

            What else could the Church do?

          • magnolia

            It is a horrific position, because it can only be at best a tenuous probable. Where someone’s hand has or has not gone while a child sat on his knee is absolutely impossible to establish decades later, plus all the questions of interpretation and accuracy of report, of memory, and of intentionality/unintentionality, and you are also left asking about degrees of means, method and opportunity, and mental and spiritual health of both parties. There is no corroboration, no eye witness, no statements near the time even, and a dead man who cannot defend himself or put forward his own account. Ghastly all round…

          • The “probable” test only requires 51% probability to be satisfied.

      • Anton

        And of John in his first letter (1 John 5:16-17).

  • chiefofsinners

    Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
    Why did the church focus on offering this woman money? It should be offering her what no one else can: forgiveness, which confers the priceless, healing ability to forgive others.

    • Anton

      She might not wish to take it from the church. I seldom disagree with you but it is Jesus Christ who can give her that, not any church.

      • Old Nick

        “Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted, whosoever sins ye retain they are retained….” ?

        • Anton

          Man alone simply does not have that authority. We can forgive only sins against ourselves. This is an unusual verb form in John’s Greek, literally “If you forgive the sins of any, they are having been forgiven to them.” The ministry is not to dispense forgiveness but to declare it. This verse has been abused by many church systems.

      • chiefofsinners

        I agree. I mean the church should offer the gospel.

  • preacher

    If the accusations are true then we must be sympathetic with the lady in question.
    But the time that has been allowed to elapse & the lack of evidence must leave the case unprovable. There is no evidence that can alter this ! Even if others came forward with the same claims, the question would still be why the time lapse between the incident & the accusation ?.
    Surely if Bishop Bell had any inclinations to act in this manner, fear of the scandal would have caused him to reject the temptation.
    Even allowing for the fact that the girls age would probably made people doubt her accusations or the possibility that she would stay silent through shame fear or feeling that she would not be believed, would one feels not have been sufficient enough inducement for the Bishop to submit to temptation. If the case had been bought & proved even ten or fifteen years after the alleged incident, he would be shamed & forced to live as a pariah rejected by society. Would he have risked it ? very doubtful in my opinion.
    I believe there are many character witnesses that have testified to George Bell’s integrity & lack of any inclination to take advantage of his position to indulge in any illegal sexual activity with minors.
    Having said all that, we simply cannot know the truth – time has defeated any chance of that. Bishop Bell has long since passed away & can’t defend himself & the law states that a person is innocent until proven guilty. it’s up to the accuser to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt & that’s clearly impossible in this instance.

    • Anton

      “the question [is] why the time lapse between the incident & the accusation?”

      The abused whose tales have been believed in court can answer that: overcoming a sense of shame that the abuse somehow implants; fear of not being believed; and time passing without redress.

      • preacher

        Yes I understand that Anton, but Seventy Years ? legally the case is unprovable one way or another. Surely the plaintiff must have known that, & what is to be gained by leaving it so long ? Nothing can be gained, the length of time does not even give the alleged victim the satisfaction of seeing the alleged abuser bought to justice.

        • sarky

          Exactly. So if it’s not true why would she put herself through it at this time of her life? What is to be gained by exposing the obvious shame she feels?

          • The Explorer

            She responded in 1995 (so she says, but the correspondence is missing) because she read about how someone else had come forward in another situation.

    • “Surely if Bishop Bell had any inclinations to act in this manner, fear of the scandal would have caused him to reject the temptation.”

      In the 1940’s no such fear would be around. No one would believe a child accusing a priest or bishop. You’d have thought fear of eternal damnation would be sufficient for anyone in his position to avoid such a grave sin. However, we now know this just isn’t the case.

      • preacher

        Hi Jack. indeed one would, but we cannot Know for sure if the allegations are true ! The accusations of a child may not have been believed in the Forties, but the same would not be true of the same claims made by an adult woman in the fifties. I repeat – We cannot know !.

        • In the 1950’s, as Jack has said earlier, without evidence or corroboration, her life would have ruined. Indeed, she would probably have ended up in an asylum. One doubts she would have been believed such was the reputation of George Bell and the state of ignorance about paedophilia.

          We can’t know … beyond a reasonable doubt … one way or another … Jack agrees with you.

          • preacher

            Thank you Jack !.

          • John Moore.

            I can’t go along with the ignorance that you state in the late forties and fifties — the schoolboy and later pub jokes were frequently of the kind of style as ”take them down” ”No no — I’ll tell the Vicar” ”I am the vicar” —— you get the idea. My knowledge of pubs dates from 1947….and weren’t they good then!

  • Manfarang

    Bad things happen however in the 1950s a child could travel alone on a train without any fear of danger.

    • IanCad

      I think there is even less danger for them today. Children have been taught to be wary. There is no reason a child shouldn’t travel alone if circumstances require.

  • Terry Mushroom

    For the curious, Peter Hitchens blogs “A reply to Theo Hobson in defence of Bishop Bell and his Defenders”. (Dated 9 February)

    http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2016/02/a-reply-to-theo-hobson-in-defence-of-george-bell-and-of-his-defenders.html

    He’s responding to Hobson’s piece in the Spectator on 8 February.

    http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/02/in-the-case-of-bishop-bell-the-church-has-shown-real-compassion/

  • big

    child abuse is a grave sin, but it is not unforgivable..?….. what exactly does this mean ?

    • It means that all sin (except a final, stubborn and culpable resistance of God’s grace) is forgivable if one sincerely repents, confesses, seeks God’s forgiveness and makes some form of restitution for any harm caused.

      • sarky

        Im glad I’m an atheist. I don’t have the stomach to spend eternity with a load of repentant child abusers.

        • The Explorer

          You might spend it instead with a load of unrepentant child abusers.

          • sarky

            At least that would be expected.

          • William Lewis

            So you have the stomach for unrepentant child abusers because that would be expected? Let’s hope that you are governed more by your heart and mind than your stomach.

        • You’d prefer to spend eternity with a bunch of unrepentant child abusers, then?

  • dannybhoy

    I posted a day ago…
    “Without diminishing the importance of compassion and forgiveness, I think perhaps this is what is missing in our congregations..

    “5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this?” 1st Corinthians 5>
    Not one comment of agreement or disapproval.
    Why?
    I believe that Christian congregations should exercise loving discipline so that members realise that there are limits to what we tolerate. Else how are we different to non believers?
    Discipline is there not to condemn but to bring a brother or sister back into fellowship.
    Am I the only one here who accepts that?

    • IanCad

      I thought most denominations did Danny. The things one learns on this blog!!

    • cacheton

      ‘Why?’
      Because I didn’t understand what you meant.
      ‘I believe that Christian congregations should exercise loving discipline so that members realise that there are limits to what we tolerate.’
      Now its clearer!
      But christian theology does not support you. As long as people repent they are forgiven by god, so what exactly would you be disciplining? Would you be passing judgment on the quality of their repentance? How would you go about doing that?

      ‘Else how are we different to non believers?’
      You aren’t. Welcome back.

  • Darter Noster

    “Christians convicted of any crime may, of course, be forgiven by God, but they must still bear the earthly retributive consequences of their actions.”

    “If George Bell abused ‘Carol’, he can and must be forgiven by the Church of England because he has been forgiven by God”

    Expunging the man from a position of earthly honour seems part and parcel of the first statement, not the second. Some Nazi war criminals died as reconciled Christians, but we do not honour them for obvious reasons. If George Bell committed these crimes and died repentant and forgiven, or if he was innocent, then no earthly scandal can touch him now.

    If the Church of England thinks he likely was a child abuser, then it seems right not to honour him, but that’s not the same as not forgiving him.

    • big

      …..blimey!

    • It is God’s grace that moves us to repentance and if we seek forgiveness with a genuine heart all sins will be forgiven in the name of Christ. However, why does God move some men and not others to seek forgiveness? Why is His grace, offered to all, effective for some and not others? It is possible that some depravity becomes so habitual, so deeply ingrained in the soul of the person, that he is so attached to it that he actively resists the movement of grace?

      No one can know the fate of another man or whether he sought and received forgiveness from God. And, if he is guilty, how can the Church possibly forgive him for an unconfessed crime against a child?

      • dannybhoy

        Part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to move us to confession and repentance, but we can resist. Some people have an overly sensitive conscience and suffer agonies of false guilt and self loathing, and need help to find equilibrium.
        If the Church dealt more firmly with sin and law breaking I think we would see a more healthy Church.

    • Randall Morris

      The Nazis were Christians when they committed their crimes….

  • Uncle Brian

    The Wikipedia page on George Bell is being altered all the time. While I was looking at it just now, the lines suddenly moved around on my screen as someone filed yet another new edit.

    Whoever most recently edited the section dealing with the child abuse allegations is clearly very supportive of Bell:

    … There were also criticisms of the way in which the Church of England handled the case. These included an article in The Spectator by Peter Hitchens, who described Bell as a “fair, just, brave man” who deserved the “presumption of innocence”.[10] An editorial in the Church of England Newspaper similarly wrote that Bell was “being tried and convicted by the Church of England with little thought for proper justice and due process”.[11] A letter from eleven former choirboys at Chichester Cathedral, who had known Bell during their time in the cathedral choir, wrote a letter to The Times describing him as an “upright, entirely moral and devout figure” who was being “smeared to suit a public relations need”.[12] On 13 November 2015, Alan Pardoe, a judge and Queen’s Counsel, criticised the handling of the allegations against Bell as “slipshod and muddled” in a letter to the Church Times.[13] There were further criticisms of the handling of the case in the Church Times of 20 November 2015 by a group of theologians and historians headed by Jeremy Morris, Master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge.[14] An accompanying letter from Brian Hanson said there had been unhappiness expressed at the Chichester diocesan synod over the national church’s handling of the issue. In the Daily Telegraph of 2 January 2016, Charles Moore severely criticised the Church’s treatment of Bishop Bell.[15] …

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Bell_(bishop)

    • Martin

      Brian

      Ah the joy of an editable ‘authority’.

      • Randall Morris

        Which cites academic works, news archives, etc…. Also people like you who write opinions there that are non-factual get the boot while you no doubt feel “Conservapedia” is “reliable…”

        • Martin

          Randall

          It doesn’t matter what it cites, it is still just opinion. And when the consensus matches that opinion nothing will be allowed to change an entry.

  • Randall Morris

    Remember that mistranslated part of the bible where Paul says they should be executed for screwing little boys?

    • No, I don’t. Care to remind us?

      • Randall Morris

        The word “arsenokoites” is mistranslated and refers to the use of children as prostitutes….

        • So you’re a Greek scholar?

          I don’t claim to be, but I have read the NT carefully and frequently and Paul does not call for anyone to be executed, although he does give a long list of sins concerning which God’s verdict is death in Romans 1. This comes at the end of the chapter which if you read it in any translation puts the New Testament view on the prohibition of same sex genital activity beyond doubt.

          • Randall Morris

            Get a life… a real one instead of waiting for one that will never happen…
            http://codexsinaiticus.org/en/

          • As we read in the Book of Proverbs, he who corrects a scoffer only gets abuse.

          • Randall Morris

            And yet you quote a mistranslation of a mistranslation of a mistranslation of a mistranslation…. While I posted a link to the original text translated into every language presently in use…
            Oh by the way you did know that King James was Gay right?…. So you are likely quoting the buttfuckers guide to the galaxy….

          • Pubcrawler

            No one has quoted anything. You have made a claim which so far you have not managed to substantiate.

          • Randall Morris

            So you admit to difficulty in reading comprehension?…

          • Pubcrawler

            Look to yourself on that.

        • The Explorer

          Arsenoikites is one issue, but the execution bit is another. What is the mistranslated bit about execution?

        • Pubcrawler

          Some make that claim, but as it’s such a stonkingly rare word, and apparently coined by Paul, it would be rash to assert that interpretation too strongly, let alone definitively.

          • Randall Morris

            No it was not “coined by Paul” it refers to the cultural practice of that time of “Women are for babies, boys are for sex” which has remained a practice of the church even though society frowns upon it….

          • Pubcrawler

            The word first appears in Paul’s writings. That is what ‘coined’ means. Attributing the meaning to it that you assert is speculative.

  • Mike Stallard

    Hey – don’t we all love sexy scandals!

    PS Bishop Bell, may he rest in peace, confirmed me.

  • PS cutting across a lot of the finer points of salvational theology and atheist trolling that’s been posted here and elsewhere on this subject lately, does anyone else harbour the smallest suspicion there might be a purpose behind some of these historic abuse denunciations?

    The long running general dechristianisation agenda, and specifically the growing secularist demand to purge bishops from the house of Lords is one possible beneficiary of the creation and promotion of the anti bishop Bell narrative.

    Another is as a distraction from certain other issues the liberal establishment finds problematic. Still no Chilcott report on the wicked and insane 2003 Iraq invasion, and David Cameron’s role in the destabilisation of Libya barely even up for discussion. BBC Saville cover up and blatant EU propaganda ahead of a fixed referendum which will probably lock us into the Eurobeast for ever. Free speech and even thought under increasing threat from the State. Debt and immigration out of control and growing threat of Islamification, NHS facing meltdown.

    But aren’t bishops horrid?

    Bell spoke out against the fire bombing of Dresden which killed perhaps 100,000 civilians. He was an acute embarrassment to the government. Interesting juxtaposition with a government today that has some blood on its hands through bombing.

    Just a thought. Cui bono?

    • Martin

      Stephen

      Interesting thoughts. And there is one who always benefits from such.