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A statement from the Cathedral Chapter regarding George Bell (posted 12 February 2016)

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A statement from the Cathedral Chapter regarding George Bell, 12th February 2016:

'In October 2015 we announced that we would be reflecting on Bishop Bell's legacy here at the Cathedral (please click here for our previous statements on this).  This followed an announcement made by the current Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, who had issued a formal apology following the settlement of a legal civil claim against George Bell, regarding child sexual abuse.  George Bell was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until shortly before his death in 1958.

At the same time, we stated that this reappraisal would include renaming our Centre for Education, Vocation and Reconciliation that bears Bishop Bell's name: George Bell House.  Since then, as an interim measure, we have referred to the house as 4 Canon Lane.

The decision to rename the house has both received much support, and also met with considerable and sustained objections, from within and outside the Church.  We have been working to achieve consensus on this issue and Chapter can confirm today that the house will continue to be referred to as 4 Canon Lane for the time being.  Chapter committed to reaffirming and strengthening the house in the primary purpose for which it was originally established (as a Centre for Education, Vocation and Reconciliation) and to consult and take time over the choice of a new name.

As part of this re-evaluation, Chapter have also considered the memorial to Bell within the Cathedral.  There are those who find the description of George Bell on the memorial problematic since the announcement of the settlement, however, its description of Bell was felt to be an appropriate tribute in 1961 when the memorial was put in place.  Changing, or adding to, a historic memorial is complex and it will take time to ensure that the Cathedral's response to the memorial is both appropriate to Bell's historic legacy and to the circumstances following the settlement.  The Cathedral has issued comprehensive guidance to its volunteers on how to refer to Bell's legacy while acknowledging the recent settlement and apology by Bishop Martin.'

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