‘No excuses’ says Bishop Rachel

By John Hawkins in Local People

Shock and dismay over catalogue of sexual abuse by former Bishop of Gloucester Peter Ball

Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Rev Rachel Treweek, has spoken of her ’shock and distress’ at the scale of sexual abuse carried out by her predecessor, Peter Ball.

Bishop Rachel issued a statement after the publication, last month, of ’An Abuse of Faith’ - an independent review led by Dame Moira Gibb into Ball’s offending.

The damning report by former social worker Dame Moira found that the Church of England had failed to protect 18 vulnerable men and boys abused by Ball over a 20-year period.

"I have read Dame Moira’s report and I am greatly shocked and distressed by its content," said Bishop Rachel.

"The report presents a devastating account of Peter Ball’s abuse and it is a matter of deep shame and regret that a Bishop in the Church of England committed such horrendous crimes and that as a Church we repeatedly failed to act and protect those who came forward for help.

"I feel immensely sad that Neil Todd (who was abused by Ball in Gloucester in the early nineties) took his own life and is not with us today - I wish to commend his tenacity and courage and that of other victims and survivors.

"There are no excuses for what took place.

"The Church commissioned this review so we could learn from our failings. I, alongside my staff team, remain committed to striving for the highest level of safeguarding in the Diocese of Gloucester and making our churches the safest places they can possibly be.

"We will continue to work with the National Safeguarding Team and act upon the recommendations made in the report.

"Any survivors or those with information about church-related abuse must know that they will be listened to in confidence, with genuine openness and empathy."

Peter Ball, who was a founder member of the Anglican monastic group the Community of the Glorious Ascension, was Bishop of Gloucester in 1992/3, having previously served as Bishop of Lewes.

He quit his post in Gloucester after being arrested and accepting a caution for the sexual abuse of novice monk Mr Todd.

However, the true scale of Ball’s offending did not emerge until decades later. In 2015 he was jailed for indecent assault and misconduct in public office and he was released earlier this year.

Last week the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, became a casualty of the investigation when he was asked to by the current Archbishop, Justin Welby, to stand down as an assistant bishop in Oxford.

The report found that Archbishop Carey and other senior figures in the Church of England had "colluded" with a Ball to prevent him facing criminal charges.

The report stated that Lord Carey wrote to Ball’s twin brother, Bishop Michael Ball, in 1993, after the caution, saying he believed Ball was "basically innocent".

At that stage Lord Carey was already aware of six letters which had been sent to Lambeth Palace by members of the public, making further allegations about Ball’s behaviour.

The letters were never passed on to police.

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