“The Church of England may have overlooked abuse by paedophile bishop Peter Ball because he was gay, a former Archbishop of Canterbury has suggested.
Baron Rowan Williams told the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse that “overcompensation” by colleagues who felt “awkward about the traditional closeted attitude” of the Church of England might have allowed Ball “second chances”.
Asked by Fiona Scolding QC, lead counsel to the Anglican investigation, whether attitudes towards homosexuality affected the way Ball was treated, he said that church figures didn’t want to be “seen to be judgmental about people’s sexual activities”.
He said Ball’s colleagues felt that while “we may formally in a disciplinary way disapprove, we may treat them according to the protocols, but we mustn’t be seen to be, or we mustn’t be judgmental, we must therefore give people second chances and understand the pressures and so on.
“So I think there’s an element of that coming in, a rather paradoxical consequence of the traditional view of homosexuality within the church, you want to overcompensate for it.”
Ball, a former bishop of Lewes and of Gloucester, was jailed in 2015 for indecent assault against 18 teenagers and young men between the 1970s and 1990s, and misconduct in public office, before being released from prison last year.
The hearing also heard that Dr Williams’ then-press adviser suggested John Hind, then bishop of Chichester, be “thrown to the press as a sacrifice” amid increasing media scrutiny over abuse in the diocese.
George Pitcher said in an email chain shown to the inquiry that stories could be “used to suggest that the Church of England is as bad as Rome” and added that the “aim must be to distance the current Archbishop of Canterbury from it as much as possible”.
Dr Williams, who was Archbishop between 2002 and 2012, said he had no knowledge of the correspondence at the time and was “rather shocked” to see it.
Earlier in the day the bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, told the inquiry that the diocese was planning to implement psychological testing for new priests to check they were suitable to become clergy.
The policy is currently in use in some dioceses but could be rolled out on a national basis from next year.
Julian Hubbard, the Church of England’s Director of Ministry, said the tests were “used for a range of purposes, including personal development as well as where there might be risks to assess”.”The Telegraph