In Brief

Church of England 'colluded' with sex abuse, says Justin Welby

Archbishop of Canterbury calls on predecessor George Carey to resign after damning report into former bishop

Former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey is facing calls to resign after a damning report found senior figures in the Church of England "colluded" over two decades with a bishop who sexually abused young boys.

Archbishop Justin Welby, the current head of the Church, told The Guardian Dame Moira Gibb's report made "harrowing reading".

He said: "The Church colluded and concealed rather than seeking to help those who were brave enough to come forward. This is inexcusable and shocking behaviour."

Peter Ball, now 85, a former bishop of Lewes and of Gloucester, was jailed for 32 months in October 2015 after admitting sex offences against 18 teenagers and young men between the 1970s and early 1990s. One of his victims, Neil Todd, committed suicide in 2012.

The report found Carey had received seven letters from families and individuals following Ball's arrest and caution for gross indecency in 1992, when he stepped down as bishop of Gloucester, but failed to pass six of them to the police, reports the BBC.

In addition, adds the broadcaster, he did not put Ball on the Church's "Lambeth List" which names clergymen who may not be suitable for the ministry and also authorised the use of funds to support him. 

"I believe him to be basically innocent," Carey wrote to Ball's brother in 1993, says the Guardian.

Following Ball's conviction in 2015, Carey denied presiding over a cover-up but said he regretted failing to deal properly with the clergyman's victims.

However, Gibb's findings have led Welby to call for his predecessor to step down from his position as an honorary assistant bishop within the diocese of Oxford.

The review also found senior figures in the Church "displayed little care" for the victims and deliberately concealed evidence of child abuse.

"The Church appears to have been most interested in protecting itself," Gibb said.

Lord Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 to 2012,  was also censured for implementing change "at a pace which now seems lamentably slow".

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