Poor George Carey cuts an increasingly sad figure these days.

Inhibited by his successor from priestly functions, his appearance before the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse did nothing to ameliorate his woes. He admitted failings at Lambeth Palace, on his watch, which resulted in ‘fobbing off’ complainants about the sexual activities of Bishop Ball. These failures, Carey implied, were more understandable considering the ‘ethos of the time’. And certainly standards have changed.

But surely there is more. The Archbishop clearly came under the spell of the charismatic Ball, and that is easy to understand. He felt, said the former Archbishop, ‘under great pressure’.

A Dagenham boy made good, Carey was the first Archbishop of Canterbury since the fourteenth century who had not graduated from one of the two ancient universities. Indeed, he failed his eleven -plus examination.

Ball was a Cambridge Blue and a friend of the Prince of Wales.  The ‘ethos of the time’ in the Church of England was still (is still?) narrow and elitist. Carey simply could not risk pursuing a man like Ball… and proving wrong. So he soft-peddled the whole affair, and is now reaping the consequences.

This is a sad tale of how Privilege gets you in the end.

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