‘Wobbly’ Welby has unexpectedly firmed up into the Rock of Gibraltar. The Archbishop of Canterbury, who is acclaimed for apologising as prolifically as water dripping from a leaking tap, has abruptly turned off the stopcock and is refusing to apologise for the most monumental cock-up of his career.

Welby has donned sackcloth and ashes and publicly flogged himself for the ‘hurt and pain’ the Church of England has (allegedly) inflicted on LGBTI people. Welby has crawled on his knees and cried mea maxima culpa for the ‘scars’ and ‘hurt’ to the campaigners for women’s ordination and ‘for my own part in that hurt’. Welby has walked on broken glass and slept on a bed of spikes as he even apologised for the Reformation. When the steam in the Lambeth pressure cooker threatened to blow off the lid, Welby apologised to a sexual abuse survivor for his office’s failure to respond to 17 letters seeking help and redress.


So why is Archbishop Justin, who like Uriah Heep has been ‘very umble to the present moment’, refusing to apologise for defaming the reputation of Bishop George Bell? Why has ‘Wobbly’ hardened his heart like Pharaoh in the story of the Exodus even after seven senior historians wrote an open letter complaining that the archbishop had shamed his office with ‘irresponsible and dangerous’ claims that Bishop Bell may have been a paedophile?

Welby’s Taliban-like intransigence has alienated even his loyal fans. According to a well-placed source inside the C of E, ‘there is a head of steam in the Church of England that could end up in his resignation over this’. If there is a miracle and the water in Lambeth Palace turns to blood or a plague of boils erupts on the skin of every canon at Canterbury Cathedral, Welby could well apologise by the time this column is published. There will be much rejoicing, and Bishop George Bell’s 93-year-old niece Barbara Whitley, who has called for Welby’s resignation, will pass the rest of her days singing the Nunc Dimittis.

So why doesn’t the spiritual head of 80million Anglicans say the two most gracious words in the English language? Why is a man who is supposed to model repentance – the core Christian virtue at the very heart of the gospel – refusing to repent? Why has the Archbishop issued a statement that reads like a memo from the Ministry of Circumlocution and Periphrasis?

‘I cannot with integrity rescind my statement made after the publication of Lord Carlile’s review into how the Church handled the Bishop Bell case,’ states Welby categorically. Bishop Dr Gavin Ashenden has come close to describing the archbishop as psychologically unbalanced: ‘He has at best muddled himself. He is in the grip of what appears to be both a serious sin and a psychological distortion. At some point, he has conflated what he thinks is right with the notion of his integrity.’

I believe Welby is one hundred per cent sincere. His absolute and emphatic claim to occupy the higher moral ground and to be right beyond the faintest glimmer of doubt is not feigned. It is not a publicity stunt. Welby genuinely believes he is right and everyone else (including seven eminent historians, another group of theologians including heavyweights from the World Council of Churches, and Lord Carlile) is wrong.

If Welby sincerely believes he is right, we need to pray for him and to understand him sympathetically using the best spiritual and psychological resources at our disposal. The social psychologist Leon Festinger provides us with precisely such a vehicle of sympathetic insight into the archbishop’s mind and soul.

Rather unexpectedly, I stumbled on Festinger in an academic journal when doing research on the Hebrew prophets. What does psychology have to do with prophecy? Later, when studying apocalyptic cults I became even more interested in Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance. I also found his work invaluable in pastoral ministry when I met people who insisted that Jesus was going to return on a particular date (a house-church in a Mumbai suburb firmly believed that Jesus was coming back on November 20, 1999).

Following their research on a flying saucer cult, Festinger and his co-researchers argued that when a prophecy or strongly held belief is proved wrong, this results in intensification of belief. ‘Suppose an individual believes something with his whole heart; suppose further that he has a commitment to this belief, but he has taken irrevocable actions because of it; finally suppose that he is presented with evidence, unequivocal and undeniable evidence, that his belief is wrong: What will happen? The individual will frequently emerge, not only unshaken but even more convinced of the truth of his beliefs than ever before. Indeed, he may even show a new fervour about convincing and converting other people to his view,’ Festinger observes.

So what happens if a person is forced to do or say something contrary to the opinion he strongly holds? First, a person might change his beliefs. Welby could simply admit he made a mistake. Second, a person might change the way he perceives his actions. This is what Welby is doing by insisting on his ‘integrity’, drawing on a tenuous analogy with the real abuser Bishop Peter Ball (oddly, I wrote a column on the tale of two bishops Bell and Ball and demonstrated how the C of E ‘smears saints and shields scoundrels’) and rationalising by drawing on his personal subjective experience of ‘discovering feet of clay in more than one person I held in profound respect’ as the benchmark of justice and truth.

He is trying to resolve his cognitive dissonance by standing by his slander that the heroic Bishop of Chichester, who sheltered Jewish children during the Second World War, was a child abuser who has a ‘significant cloud’ over his name, despite evidence to the contrary. The sordid saga has demonstrated that it is actually the Archbishop of Canterbury who has a ‘significant cloud’ over his name and office. It is the ‘significant cloud’ of self-delusion.

The global Anglican Communion can no longer afford the luxury of a Commander-in-Chief who has succumbed to what Friedrich Nietzsche called the ‘deplorable victory of the sanctified lie’.

80 COMMENTS

  1. Like Donald Trump, Justin Welby ought to undergo a mental examination and make the results public. Only then, we will be convinced that he is mentally fit for the job. But if the issue is moral, more than it is mental, Welby must resign. After all, he has been pointing fingers at the Donald, and the President of the US has graciously apologised for his re-tweets of a certain video. If Welby’s morality cannot match that of Trump’s (whom he has severely criticised), then Welby ought to call in the Removals. Jesus’ words about first removing the beam from your own eye before you can remove the log from your brother’s eye, are more than apt here.

    • Jesus’ words? The CofE don’t have faith in a book written by men don’t yah know. You simply behaved in whatever way that “feels right”. If you are not sure then group prayer (preferably by a group of sisters) can determine God’s will for your life.

      Where the Bible is used it is reinterpreted. Haven’t you heard about the Syrian Feminist who, singlehandedly got Jesus to change the direction of his ministry? It is one of their favourites. They have whole colleges reinterpreting the Bible to condone a Feminist, LGBTI and of course “abortion is a blessing” (actually stated by a female Principal of an Anglican Theological College) agenda.

  2. He is trying to protect the CofE Brand.

    His Brand has lost market share for a very long time and now only occupies a tiny segment of the market, due to the extreme left wing policies (theologically, socially and morally) that the self selecting hierarchy has embarked upon, regardless of the cost in membership (Or Biblical justification).

    Welby sees the future of the Cof E as being like Corbyn’s Momentum of Christian Britain and he will not condone anything that detracts from that trajectory.

    The lack of any apology is then seen as a rational act. He cannot upset what is his last significant customer base

  3. Agree wholeheartedly with your post, but sorry to see you adopting that awful American usage of the word ‘survivor’. Survivors are people who lived through Auschwitz or who are dug out ruins after an earthquake. Those who have suffered abuse are NOT survivors, they are victims

    • The term used to be just ‘vivor’ but it was knighted in David Cameron’s oh-crap-I’ve-lost-the-referendum,-time-to-buy-a-few-friends honours list. For services to progressive claptrap.

      • Ha! Ha! how much you know Welby and his supporters who very cleverly do away with dissenting voices…have you heard of the Clergy Disciplinary Measures which are exercised with such dexterity that the poor victimised clergy are completely ruined? And Welby pretends the he does not know what is happening under his nose.

    • They were on the road to doing that but I understand that Jules Gomes, although an Anglican priest, is no longer part of the Church of England.

    • Jules would rather be excommunicated than be part of such an organisation where the leader holds heretical views and is power hungry. By the way Jules is an independent Anglican minister who holds on to orthodox views.

  4. Not so much a Christian Archbishop. More the wimpish CEO of a struggling charity wedded to the Labour party.

  5. The most effective falsehoods contain grains of truth. It is true to anyone with life experience that our heroes often have feet of clay. We learn to live with disappointment (and that, btw, will happen to the youth cult around Corbyn). However, to make this understanding the basis of all our actions is a pathological folly. It ends in extreme cynicism and, often, the desire to topple heroes from their pedestals (again, this is happening in a concrete way on the far left).

    It starts with the realisation that humans are flawed and can end with demonisation. I suspect (and who can really know what’s going on in Welby’s mind?) that there is some bitter disappointment in his past that’s driving his refusal to rehabilitate a CoE hero. Or perhaps it’s simply the fear that, having exonerated Bishop Bell, some new accusation will surface and sticking to his guns now is the safer option.

    • Sticking to his guns is really about psychological defensiveness (denial) and stubborn self-righteousness. Welby believes that he is too brilliant and discerning to ever be wrong, so do not expect a public apology (ever) from Welby for anything he has personally done.

      Spiritual pride may be the worst of sins because it prevents repentance, and without repentance one cannot receive God’s forgiveness. People will not reach out to receive what they do not think they need or want.

  6. It is about Welby’s ego but it is also about his faithlessness and total lack of prophetic insight. Welby’s erroneous perception is that liberal Political Correctness really IS correct and that the Left is on the right side of history. Welby very much wants to please his constituency– which does not include Jesus or orthodox Bible-believing Christians. I see zero godly discernment.

    It takes no humility or repentance for Welby to apologize by proxy for the Church of
    England for its past imperfections, for he does not feel personally guilty for these social blunders.
    He is accusing others, not himself. He is saying, in essence, that he would never have supported apostolic doctrine versus women bishops or homosexual behavior and would even not have taken part in the Reformation. “It wasn’t me, it was those past Church leaders. I am way better than that.” Self-righteous ego.

    There is no way this self-righteous left-leaning post-modern Pharisee is going to apologize for anything he has personally done, especially for something that makes him look good in eyes of his Left-loving people. He will criticize clergy for acting biblically but then apologize by proxy for the CofE when it upholds biblical doctrine.

    Screwtape and Wormwood are cheering wildly that Welby and his supporters have been so easily deceived.

    • Indeed. Welby falls over himself to apologise publicly for the faults of others but refuses point blank to apologise for his own failures. Classic narcissism.

    • What if he did apologise? What if he turned against the liberals?

      I for one, would rally to his defence.

      • If he did apologise, it would be extremely gracious and like Donald Trump’s recent apology, he would win the hearts of many.

      • Have we not seen enough of Welby’s ideological stand in the short term he has been the ABC? He will rather malign the reputation of a dead man who served the persecuted Jews and Jewish children and stood with Dietrich Bonhoeffer than say sorry. He has said sorry to people who do that which is against the scriptures and that’s what Welby’s apologies are for. He does not stand for the truth of the scriptures nor dose he stand for those who practised the Gospel like Bishop George Bell. If Welby and his well wishers plan the destruction of Jules Gomes, I will not be surprised because telling the truth is not ABC’s line of work.

      • A heartfelt and sincere apology from Welby would be miraculous (a God inspired and empowered act) and so I would accept it. But I am not holding my breath waiting.

  7. His refusal to acknowledge the truth is the measure of a pygmy. A political fool bereft of honesty. Beneath contempt

    • Please don’t insult pygmies. You might be guilty of heightism or shortophobia. I was going to say Welby is a Lilliputian, but then I thought, why, what have the Lilliputians done to me, that I should insult them thus!

      • Well, General, in his case he can’t even claim to be standing on the shoulders of a giant. A really bad case of him sharing the same stature as a pygmy without the cultural accreditation. Nor fig-leaf.

  8. The sanctified lie. There’s a concept. In a sense a state church only exists to sanctify whatever truth or lie the state wishes to pursue. To bring the population into line with their betters, via the leverage of religion, and prevent any notion of a higher authority from causing civil disobedience. Welby is just doing his job: Adjusting reality to expediency. In this case he serves his own interests, not those of the state, but the principle is the same.
    Elsewhere Anglicanism has grown up. The 95% of Anglicans in other lands will not tolerate much more of this from their ‘Primus inter pares.’ Nor indeed will English Anglicans, who are establishing independent congregations in increasing numbers.

  9. “He is trying to resolve his cognitive dissonance by standing by his slander that the heroic Bishop of Chichester, who sheltered Jewish children during the Second World War, was a child abuser who has a ‘significant cloud’ over his name, despite evidence to the contrary. The sordid saga has demonstrated that it is actually the Archbishop of Canterbury who has a ‘significant cloud’ over his name and office. It is the ‘significant cloud’ of self-delusion.”
    *
    I have to say that if the words penned against the Archbishop had been penned against a Rabbi , the perpetrator would have been accused of the worst kind of anti Semitism
    *
    The only crime that the Archbishop has committed is to be reasonable and caring. And that in the view of the alt right penned above is the worst kind of crime

      • I think David Lindsay wonderfully proves Dr Gomes’ point. Here, right before our eyes, we have another glorious example of cognitive dissonance. Like Welby, Lindsay is one hundred percent sincere, but completely deluded.

        • He is telemachus not David Lindsay. A leftist extremist cod-communist troll who intervenes on conservative websites under a hundred different names just to make mischief.

          • David Lindsay has dropped his trousers and scooted away. He’s not come back to defend his claims. Wonder why….

    • Lindsay,

      You are in debt to Gomes.

      You have implicitly, suggested, that he is a racist.

      In order to discharge the debt: apologise.

    • David, you wrote: “I have to say that if the words penned against the Archbishop had been penned against a Rabbi , the perpetrator would have been accused of the worst kind of anti Semitism.”

      Ah, yes, but the Archbishop is no Rabbi ! It is his outrageous behavior and words, not his race or religion, which we are critiquing here. No comparison to anti-Semitism. Instead, some of us might reasonably be accused of anti-ABCism, or antiCofE-leaderism, or just plain I-don’t-like-or-trust-Welby-ism.

    • Ah! So now brown-skinned Gomes from Mumbai is a member of the alt right? What else do you have to throw at him? Skinhead? Neo-Nazi? Or you think like the transgender freaks he is simply ‘self-identifying’ as a white supremacist? Or, I guess you meant Alt key and right click on the computer, didn’t you?

  10. Dr Gomes

    If Welby resigns; then what can we millions of orthodox Anglicans do to assist a candidate favourable to us?

    There are likely to be many in the Tory party who will help us, as they too are keen to support a traditional world-view (as it will assist their politics).

    Please advise.

    • He was appointed by Cameron in his bid to get as man old school ties into as many top jobs as he could.
      If you want to get conservatives anywhere then work to have the new Headmaster at Eton replaced ASAP !

  11. Wobbly Welby is doubly deluded. First, because he apologises for things he is not really responsible for. Second, because he refuses to apologise for something he is actually responsible for. Leon Festinger also speaks of confirmation bias. ‘A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point,’ Festinger said. He also spoke of the ‘disconfirmation bias’ in which we expend disproportionate energy trying to debunk or refute views and arguments that we find uncongenial. When hit with the cognitive dissonance of what was actually happening in terms of Global Warming (i.e. there was more Global Cooling), the Leftists pushing their scaremongering changed the terminology to Climate Change.

    • Your last sentence reveals the typical Leftist disingenuity and lack of integrity; when their facts turn out to be erroneous, they just change the language. They
      simply don’t care about the facts, only about their Leftist political goals.

      I am concerned however with everyone being caught between the Confirmation Bias and the Disconfirmation Bias simply for having strong convictions.

  12. As the desperate man with the excessively busy spade disappears below ground level, I would offer him one encouraging thought: I don’t believe that the opinion of democratic majorities among interested parties or impressive groups of senior academics can ever be taken as proof of what is true; indeed it’s possible (though unlikely!) that one man or woman alone out of the 7.6 billion world population could be right in what they believe.

    But I then have to offer a very painful observation: what counts here is judgement rather than truth – because we shall never know the complete and certain truth about George Bell any more than we do about anyone else who has ever lived, including Archbishop Justin Welby himself. And it is Justin’s manipulative use of that universal uncertainty as a way of casting doubt over someone else’s reputation which is so unpleasant, so destructive and ultimately so irrational.

  13. Welby does not understand the meaning of Christian humility. To him it means making grovelling apologies for sins that were not committed to people who neither need or deserve them, all for the purpose of signalling his virtue to the political classes. In doing so he betrays other Christians and sets them up as targets for all kinds of false accusations. He values the falsehoods of a corrupt society more than he values the truth. Like so many in the clergy he has fallen into the trap of idolatry.

  14. Welby and the Church have treated the late Bishop Bell disgracefully. It is all part of the hysteria that has grown up surrounding ‘child abuse accusations’. As far as I am aware nothing ‘Carol’ has alledged has been properly tested to establish if there is a grain of truth in any of it (which one has to doubt) but on the strength of nothing at all the Church has been happy to trash the good name of a very devout and pious man, and send her a cheque for £15000 for the sake of it. Makes you sick.

    • Whether there is any truth in the accusation, only God, Carol, and Bishop Bell knows, so we will never be able to determine his guilt or innocence this side of heaven. Nor will we be able to deterrnine her guilt or innocence of breaking the commandment against giving false testimony against another person. This makes the accusation nothing but victimization grandstanding.

      Because she has been rewarded for her allegation, it can only encourage false accusations down the road for others in high positions who have gone on— because those accusing of abusive events in the distant past cannot be proven to be lying and thus can easily get away with it.

      • The ‘Protocols of Justice’ have been reversed – there is a ‘Presumption of Guilt’ and those accused, always you will note behind the Curtain of Anonymity, are assumed to be guilty and have to prove their innocence.

        It is beyond parody that Welby and the other idiots running the Church should pay this woman £15000 (plus as much again in ‘costs’) for what exactly ?? I firmly believe that she ought to have had the courage of her convictions to name the Bishop publicly so we can all see who she is and what she is. There ought not to be anonymity in these ‘historic cases’ but let the full light of common day shine. And I also believe that of you falsely and maliciously accuse like ‘Nick’ and ‘Jane’ then you should suffer and you must be prosecuted for attempting to Pervert the Course of Justice. If ‘Nick’ etc have signed a statement for the Police that is exactly what they have done. One last thing: no compensation payments unless there is irrefutable proof beyond reasonable doubt that the abuse took place, and even then I’m minded that if the alleged abuser is dead not a penny should be paid. Turn off the money tap and you turn off these silly stories.

    • Or about flat out lies. Only God really knows the truth. Which makes the late public allegations against the late bishop without any purpose except for the accuser’s material profit.

  15. Archbishop Welby fully subscribes to the liberal-progressive worldview, and one of its tenets is that all men accused of sexual assault are guilty until proved innocent. Despite the legitimate criticisms of Lord Carlisle and others, he’s ideologically incapable of taking any stand in this case other than the one does, because to acknowledge he’s wronged Bishop Bell’s reputation would force him to confront the poverty of his imagination, and just for today he’s unwilling or unable to walk down that difficult and painful road.

    I have a certain sympathy for his position, knowing myself how horrible such a process of self-examination can be, but think it shows him to be utterly unfit to remain as head of the church, and the sooner he resigns, the better.

    • I agree that he should resign for a number of reasons, the least of which may be “poverty of his imagination.” Disbelief in the scriptures (and/or disobedience) through the support of heresies is a much worse fault in a bishop, especially an Archbishop of Canterbury. He has disqualified himself for the office.

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