Andrew Brown: Lord Carey’s defenders take up their pens

21 July 2017

PA

THE case of Lord Carey lives on in The Daily Telegraph (Press, 7 July). Charles Moore wrote a long article defending him on 8 July: “In the early 1990s, someone receiving private letters about young men allegedly abused would not normally have passed them on to the police: he would have seen it as a breach of confidence.”

That may be true of Establishment figures, but I know that at the time that all this was happening, I was engaged in the long and emotionally exhausting ordeal of just such a story (as it happened, one in which Carey’s peripheral involvement was entirely exemplary), and would certainly have gone to the police had they not got there first. But I doubt that Mr Moore regarded me, even then, as an exemplar. In any case, the point is surely that the letters not passed on to the police were not “about” alleged victims: three at least were direct allegations of abuse, by the victims. They were deliberately concealed.

 

NEVER let the facts spoil a story, though: Dr Michael Green, Lord Carey’s former evangelism adviser, wrote in to say that “Lord Carey’s mistake, for which he apologised, was failing to put Ball, by then a sick man, on the Lambeth caution list, as he did not think there was a chance of his ministering again. The provincial registrar concurred. It is hard to escape the conclusion that Lord Carey has been made a scapegoat.” But that really wasn’t the only mistake for which he was censured. Whether his punishment was too harsh is another question.

The second letter was intriguing, from Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach, once head of Lady Thatcher’s policy unit. He asked: “What guidelines should be set out for a Church of England bishop or archbishop taking disciplinary action in such a case?

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“In the light of the Church’s determined efforts to tackle child abuse in its own back yard, problems with the way decisions have been made regarding Lord Carey, and previously regarding a former Bishop of Gloucester and former Archbishop of York, not to mention Bishop Bell, suggest that this whole area needs to be seriously re-examined.”

The former Archbishop of York referred to by Lord Griffiths was Lord Hope of Thornes, who withdrew from public ministry in 2014 after a report criticised his response to allegations against a former Dean of Manchester, the Very Revd Robert Waddington (News, 31 October 2014).

 

BUT the Church of England has been all sweetness and light this week compared to the Church of Rome, where the arguments about sex and authority are coming to a crescendo on the internet. The spark this time was that Pope Francis sacked — or failed to renew the contract of — Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the conservative head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), who has been one of the main opponents of his liberalisation of the discipline around communion for the remarried (Paul Vallely, 14 July).

Cardinal Müller went public with his rage and disappointment: “[Francis] did not give a reason — just as he gave no reason for dismissing three highly competent members of the CDF a few months earlier. I cannot accept this way of doing things. As a bishop, one cannot treat people in this way,” he told a Bavarian paper.

This did not impress a Jesuit, Fr Michael Kelly, writing on the website La Croix: “The cardinal headed an office in the Vatican whose modus operandi has been for about 500 years to ignore due process, deny natural rights and force those they’ve targeted to turn up to cross examinations where the accused is not given prior warning of the charges, who has made them or what evidence the charges are based on.

“The abject lack of self-awareness as he digs his own hole is something to witness.”

The Pope, meanwhile, has a new poster on the glass door of his office in the Casa Sancta Marta, reports the Italian Vaticanologist Andrea Tornelli: it says (in Italian) “No Whingeing”. There is a photograph to back this up.

Then there was the piece by the Pope’s friend, another Jesuit, attacking the alliance between right-wing Roman Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States, which he described as “an ecumenism of hatred”.

For a glimpse of the rhetoric on the other side, there is the right-wing Catholic site “Church Militant”, which believes that President Trump is — oh, let them use their own words: “Obviously, Clinton is Diocletian — a bloodthirsty, self-professed enemy of the Church who needs authentic Christianity out of her way to complete her desired refashioning of America. Diocletian’s persecutions were the order of the day. And to Trump has fallen the role (whether he yet realizes it or not) of Constantine, the ambitious man who wanted to be emperor of Rome, but who was ignorant of the fact that Heaven would step in for him for Heaven’s own reasons. God had additional plans for him once he was undisputed emperor.”

Obviously.

 

THERE was also a really touching and inspiring piece in the Financial Times about a slum priest in Buenos Aires, written from a viewpoint so secular that the altar was dismissed as “religious paraphernalia”. But the journalist was bowled over by Padre Pepe’s courage, and the energetic love he showed for his parishioners, who are caught in the middle of the local drug wars.

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