02 Opening messages

Sandra Saer: Shall we start? Shall we begin again? I would like Canon Smith-Cameron to give the opening prayer.

Ivor Smith-Cameron: Let us pray. Eternal God, you called Bishop Bell of Chichester to claim your glory in a life of peace making. Keep the leaders of your church faithful and bless your people through your ministry. Let the church grow through the stature of your son. Amen.

Sandra Saer: We are running behind. I think it was interesting that the Bishop came and talked to us. Although we didn’t agree with everything he said, it was a good gesture.

I’m going to read three statements. One was read by Gavin. I’m not sure everyone heard it. This is the statement from Lord Carlile of Berwick.

“I hope this event will add to the clamour for the church to admit the awful mistakes it has made with unsubstantiated allegations against Bishop Bell. His name should never have been publicised before allegations were investigated. The Church should accept that my recommendations should be accepted in full and Bishop Bell should be declared by the Church to be innocent of the allegations made against him.”

I will read the next one. It is important I read it. It is from the General Synod – Martin Sewell and David Lamming.

“No doubt those who honour Bishop Bell this year will be honoured due process has occurred to bring closure to the sad chapter of life of the Church.

We are glad the reports have brought clarity and rigorous analysis in an unsatisfactory investigation. You will applaud the support from Archbishop Justin for a tribute to Bishop Bell in Canterbury Cathedral Close.

Bishop Martin has been in a difficult position. He has had to support institutional decisions. He was one of the minority who expressed concerns about the sufficiency of the evidence. Dialogue with your local bishop is a good place to begin.

Bishop Bell remains under a significant cloud. When allegations fail to meet the legal standards of proof, however much sympathy we have for the accuser, justice must be fair to all parties.

We will ask members of Synod to sign the Private Members Motion. We need 100 signatures. Inevitably many members await the decision on the later allegations before putting their names to the motion.”

“We wish you a good meeting. We will continue to serve the cause of justice to bring these matters to a satisfactory conclusion. We are sure Bishop Bell would commend us to work towards Christian reconciliation.”

One more statement, from Lord Carey.

“Dear Richard and friends. I’m sorry I can’t be with you. The recent Briden report and the Lord Carlile report makes it clear a miscarriage of justice has been done. A person is innocent until proven guilty. This must be followed in all future allegations – dead or alive. We want to associate Bishop Bell’s name with the buildings and schools. I want to thank Richard Symonds efforts to clear the Bishop’s name. Few have been so industrious. Thank you Richard.”

(loud clapping)
Sandra Saer: Richard is not liking this, but we had to do it!

The following presentations, many of them based on records made by Electronic Note Takers (ENTs) are available from the list below: