Sexual abuse hysteria in the Church of England finally put right

Sex-related hysteria resulting in the defamation of the innocent has recently come undone in Australia's  Higgins/Lehrman affair.  See below about that:

But the C of E got there first with abominable zeal to convict a genuinely holy man on no good evidence. "The woman must be believed" was again the poisonous basis for action. Who ever heard of a lying woman? I have posted previously on the matter.  The source articles are below</i>

Last week, 4 Canon Lane, Chichester, was renamed George Bell House. It had been called 4 Canon Lane since 2016. Before that, it had been called George Bell House. This forth-and-back reflects the strange sequence of events. 

In 2015, the diocese paid compensation to ‘Carol’ for an alleged sexual assault by Bell, when Bishop of Chichester, in the late 1940s or thereabouts. In that year, the present Bishop of Chichester also gave her a formal apology. Bell had died, unaccused, in 1958. 

The church process by which he was posthumously convicted nearly 60 years later had not included anyone speaking on his behalf. A number of us, one or two of whom had known Bell, started an informal group to clear his name. We were confident that the accusation was false and certain that the process had been wrong. 

The latter point was conceded by the Church after a fine review by Lord Carlile. The former was not. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, asserted that a ‘significant cloud’ still hung over Bell. He finally retracted this in November 2021. 

By then, poor Bell had been unpersoned by the diocese – his name, which had been hallowed, effaced. George Bell House, founded to promote his interest in vocation, education and reconciliation, was one example. 

The re-renaming all but completes the formal restoration of Bell’s reputation. The Chapter of the cathedral, especially the interim Dean, Simon Holland, deserves credit, because this change was resisted in some quarters. The innocent man won in the end. 

I hope history will record this fully. If, for example, you look online at the ICSA report on child abuse, which made Bell one of its cases, you will not pick up the vital fact that Bell did not abuse anybody.

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