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Welby failed to stand by his own safeguarding rules

By David W. Virtue, DD
February 5, 2021

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who has shown himself to be a sharp defender of his Church's safeguarding policies when it comes to people like Archbishop George Carey and Bishop George Bell, now finds himself accused of failing to show the same safeguarding high standards for himself that he set for others.

A British magazine, Private Eye, has brought to light that, in 2007, when Welby was Dean of Liverpool Cathedral, that a certain Canon John Roberts was busy sexually assaulting children. When it came to light, Welby gave him a pass with the promise from the priest that he would not do it again.

As the story goes, in the summer of 2011, a man repeatedly approached Welby complaining that Roberts had been making unwanted sexual advances to him. Welby called in Roberts, who told him the man had a history of drug abuse, and that he had been offering him pastoral care. The man continued to complain so angrily, that Welby banned him from visiting the cathedral and sent Roberts a sympathetic letter.

"For obvious reasons you are more vulnerable to unfounded accusations than others," Welby wrote, adding that "in the absence of independent evidence, and in the light of his behavior today, we accept your account."

At Liverpool Crown Court on 21 December, Canon John Roberts was sentenced to nine years for ten counts of indecent assault and sexual assault against four people. Canon Roberts had served as vicar of Woolton for 22 years from 1980. His vicarage was close to the famous Strawberry Fields children's home where some of his victims lived.

The moral of the story? If you are abused by a clergyman and you want to report it to the church, be sure to do so politely. If you come across as angry, it will take the word of a convicted pedophile over yours, said the editorial.

Welby's hypocrisy cannot be overlooked.


In the early summer of 2020, Lord Carey, 82, who served as archbishop from 1991 to 2002, was accused of failing to act over allegations about John Smyth, QC, who was found to have physically abused a number of young men whom he groomed through his leadership at Iwerne, a Christian camp network for boys, in the 1970's and early 1980's. When his abuse was made known to other Iwerne leaders, Smyth fled the country, never faced justice, and died in South Africa. The Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, accepted a recent report implicating Carey, based on tenuous links found in code in a private letter, and removed Carey's Permission to Officiate (PTO). It was later restored in January of 2021.

Carey still denies ever meeting the man in question. Here is what he had to say in his own words; "...last June I was told brutally that after 58 years of serving the church faithfully my ministry was withdrawn because of some kind of association, which I had no knowledge of, with John Smyth, QC. Smyth was a lawyer who also savagely beat young Christian boys from top public schools until they bled, with some perverse theological justification that his efforts would make them more "holy". I had no memory of him.

There has been no word of apology from Archbishop Welby for this treatment of his predecessor.

In 2017, Welby had lashed out at Carey after a report criticized his handling of sex abuse allegations in the Nineties. Like many others at the time including Prince Charles, Carey was taken in by the charm and status of Bishop Peter Ball, who secretly abused young men for years and was only convicted and imprisoned late in life. In a Christmas letter, Welby described one of Carey's decisions as "shocking and unjust." Carey himself has apologised for his failings in the Ball case, and subsequently resigned from his role as an honorary assistant bishop of Oxford.

However it now appears that Justin Welby also made the same mistake, taking the side of the well-spoken man of the cloth, rather than listening to serious accusations against him and ensuring they are properly investigated. Should he have been so quick to condemn Carey when he himself may have been guilty of the same failing?

But in another case, after an investigation has been carried out and not enough evidence found for historic abuse, Welby chose to continue to sully the reputation of the innocent.


Bishop George Bell was one of the great leaders of the Church of England in the Twentieth Century. As a member of the House of Lords, on moral grounds he bravely opposed the blanket bombing of German cities in WW2. He was a close friend of the late Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In 1995, it was claimed the churchman - who died in 1958 - had sexually abused a young girl when he was bishop.

In 2015, the CofE under Welby, believed a woman, only identified as Carol was paid £16,800 ($23,000) by the Church to settle the claim in an out of court settlement and Welby apologized to Carol.

Supporters of Bell say the charges are "unfounded", which a Church of England appointed lawyer later ruled. Welby later apologized "unreservedly" for mistakes made after the original allegation. He said: "Bishop George Bell is one of the most important figures in the history of the Church of England in the 20th Century, and his legacy is undoubted and must be upheld.

"However, it is still the case that there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation... and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet," said Welby.

Bell's reputation is still muddied by these allegations. In 2017, a review by Lord Carlile QC, concluded the Church's response had been "deficient" and failed to follow a process that was "fair and equitable to both sides", adding the reputations of the dead were not without value. To date the bishop's "abuse" has not be cleared.

In his stand against his own unjust case, Archbishop Carey said this: "This is not the Church of England that I have known -- generous, open and kind. Tragically, I know that victims of clerical abuse found the Church of England in the past to be defensive and uncaring, and I greatly regret my part in that culture and those terrible attitudes. But it does not do to replace one failure with another. The current culture of fear in which survivors and clerics alike receive no kind of justice must be confronted."

Now Welby himself stands in the limelight with credible charges that he failed in safeguarding the cry of a single man over a canon of the Church, a man of the cloth who will now spend nine years in jail.

Welby must be held accountable. Perhaps after he has taken a sabbatical in the US to write a book about "reconciliation" he might do the right thing and step down. His occupancy of the chair of St. Augustine has been a total disaster from his prostrating himself before the Amritsar massacre memorial in India, while ignoring the massive corruption in the Church of South India by many of its bishops.

After he was mocked for "self-flagellation" by a distinguished Indian parliamentarian after he apologized for Britain's colonial past, the archbishop of Canterbury has since apologized for his "white privilege" in the wake of Black Lives Matter (BLM) riots.

"Justin Welby seems to have made it his trademark to apologize for everything and anything which the 'wokeratari' will applaud," Anglican cleric Melvin Tinker told Church Militant.

Welby's single biggest failure is his steadfast refusal to discipline errant Anglican provinces who flout Lambeth Resolution 1:10, the gold standard for the Anglican Communion over marriage which openly rejects homosexual behavior. He has invited them all to the next Lambeth Conference in the hope of healing the open fissures in the communion. But that is not going to happen. GAFCON bishops have steadfastly said they will not attend. To make a mockery of it all, the conference will begin with a Queer Eucharist, designed no doubt, to put pressure on Welby to fully capitulate.

Welby must go. He has not fulfilled his mandate to hold the communion together. He has proven no better than his predecessor Rowan Williams.


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