After news of Bishop Ball’s arrest broke, Lambeth Palace received seven independent accusations about his earlier behaviour. Two were seen by Archbishop Carey, who replied to them personally. Only one of the seven, though, was passed to the police, and that the least damning. Lord Carey’s message to the diocese after Bishop Ball was arrested urged prayers for the bishop and said nothing about victims. After Bishop Ball had retired on spurious grounds of ill health and accepted a caution – though remaining in denial about his crimes – Lord Carey worked to have him rehabilitated. True, he did so with less ingenuity than Peter Ball’s identical twin Michael, himself a bishop, who has admitted allowing his twin to deputise for him at “one or two events”, even after his disgrace.
Lord Carey nevertheless gave Peter Ball £12,000 from church funds, leading to loud complaints from the brothers, who had wanted £20,000. He deliberately kept Peter Ball’s name off the Lambeth blacklist of unemployable clergy; he had the disgraced bishop to stay at Lambeth Palace twice; he attempted to find him work in South Africa (writing to Desmond Tutu for this scheme) and in prisons; he wrote to an American parish that “Peter was possibly the victim of a plot but that, of course, cannot be proved”. Lord Carey’s only objection to a full rehabilitation of Bishop Ball as a retired bishop was that it might provoke unfavourable publicity.
This was disgraceful, and the result has been a deserved disgrace. But it was part of a culture of privilege, power and make-believe that corrupted more than one bishop. Lord Carey’s successor, Rowan Williams did nothing to help Bishop Ball but very little and very slowly to hinder him either.