The Diocese of Oxford has lifted the ban on the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, allowing him to preach and lead worship in his local parish. For now, however, he will not return to any duties as an honorary assistant bishop.

Last June Lord Carey stood down after complaints that he and other senior church figures “colluded” with the former Bishop of Gloucester, Peter Ball, who was jailed in 2015 for sexual abuse of young men. For his part, Lord Carey has always insisted that the sanction against him was unfair and unjust.

The report of an inquiry into the Ball affair by Dame Moira Gibb claimed Lord Carey had “set the tone” of the church’s dealings with Ball, allowing Ball to continue in ministry after he received a police caution for gross indecency in 1993.

In her report, Gibb said Lord Carey “played the lead role” in allowing Ball to conduct baptisms and confirmations as well as speaking regularly at fee-paying schools. Gibb concluded that Lord Carey and other senior church figures “colluded” with Ball to help him avoid criminal proceedings.

Gibb’s report described Ball and his twin brother, Michael, a former Bishop of Truro, as “manipulative” in dealings with Lord Carey as they tried to get church sanctions lifted. It was recently reported that both are seeking admission into the Roman Catholic Church.

“In the wake of Dame Moira Gibb’s review, Lord Carey stood down from the role of Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Oxford in June 2017, and withdrew from public ministry for a season, Lord Carey accepted the criticisms made of him at the time and has apologized to the victims of Peter Ball,” the Diocese of Oxford said in a statement about the decision.

“In February 2018 Lord Carey contacted the Diocese of Oxford to request PTO (permission to officiate). This was granted by the Bishop of Oxford later the same month. The granting of PTO enabled Lord Carey to preach and preside in the church where he worships, a church where his ministry is much valued. The granting of a PTO does not indicate a planned return to the role of Assistant Bishop.”

John Martin

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