There is an old political law that states: “When you are in a hole, stop digging”. It is a maxim that should have an ecclesiastical application, too.
The case of Bishop George Bell has damaged the reputation of the Church of England and of Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Although Bishop Bell died in 1958, allegations of sexual abuse against the prelate were accepted by the Church with no evidence.
When an independent report concluded he had been unjustly treated, the Church declined to exonerate him while accepting the process it had undertaken was flawed. But instead of leaving matters there (which Bishop Bell’s supporters were reluctant to do in any case) the Church has become even more resolute in its pursuit….