The news got out, over the weekend, that Bishop Peter Ball, formerly Bishop of Lewes (a suffragan see of the diocese of Chichester) and then of Gloucester, has died. Apparently, his death occurred last Friday, 21 June.
I knew him fairly well; I remember him as one of the most sinister people I have ever had dealings with. Eventually he did time for his career of sadistic sexual abuse of young men (one of whom he drove to suicide). He was the protected darling of the British Establishment; Prince Charles, an Archbishop of Canterbury, Judges, Public School heads ... they were all taken in by his 'charismatic' manner and his skilfully crafted persona of ascetic sanctity.
I have, of course, said Mass for the repose of his soul. I pray that, before his death, he was able to attain the clarity and humility of contrition for the evil he did. Please God, may I, and every reader of these words, die penitent and absolved.
Only a little while ago, the Independent Inquiry into the Sexual Abuse of Children published its report into the Anglican diocese of Chichester; just last week, the RC Archdiocese of Birmingham had its turn. Neither 'case study' makes pleasant reading, but it seems to me that things were by far the worse in the diocese of Chichester and in the Church of England.
Sometimes, foolish people suggest that the Catholic Church would not have had its Paedophile Priest scandal, were it not for the law of clerical celibacy.
The Church of England has never, since 1559, had a law of clerical celibacy. This lack did not preserve the diocese of Chichester from the vileness of Bishop Ball and its other clerical paedophiles, some whom ... I know you are wondering this ... were married.