Priest banned from ministry to defend George Bell at Church of England's headquarters

A priest barred from ministry after being accused of abusing colleagues and making malicious allegations against his superiors is to speak at the Church of England's headquarters in London on Thursday.

Jules Gomes, formerly a priest at St Mary's on the Harbour on the Isle of Man, is an outspoken defender of George Bell, a former Bishop of Chichester who has been accused of historical sex abuse. He will address a group of Bell's supporters in Church House, Westminster, on February 1.

Jules Gomes was barred for 10 years from ministry for conduct unbecoming a priest.JulesGomes.com

Church House is the building used as the CofE's main London base. The National Church Institutions (NCIs) which govern the Church's daily running, do not own the building nor control its bookings and the CofE appeared to distance itself from the event.

A Church of England spokesperson said: 'We are aware of an event due to take place at Church House Conference Centre Limited, in Westminster, on Feb 1 at which we understand Jules Gomes, a former Church of England parish priest prohibited from ministry for 10 years by a Bishop's Disciplinary Tribunal, has been invited to speak.

'The National Church Institutions are tenants at Church House. Church House Conference Centre Limited, who manage bookings from clients and operate the conference spaces, is an independent conference centre located at Church House.'

Gomes was banned from ministry for 10 years after a disciplinary tribunal found he is 'prone to losing his temper and displaying anger and as a result those who have been the subject of such anger have been seriously upset and damaged'.

The chairman of the tribunal dealing with Gomes' case, Geoffrey Tattersall QC, said he had an 'over-inflated view of his own self-importance', and dealt with people with 'little or no compassion or pastoral concern'.

He abused and shouted at a voluntary church cleaner, causing her to feel 'threatened by his behaviour' and leave the church. He also repeatedly swore, using the word f***, at the churchwarden who also resigned stating the experience 'hurt him deeply and that it took him some time to recover'.

Gomes also attacked his bishop on the Isle of Man in media interviews, making 'several malicious and untrue allegations against the bishop and the archdeacon', the panel concluded.

The bishop retired shortly afterwards.

Gomes, who is now pastor of St Augustine's, an independent Anglican church on the Isle of Man, described his case as 'Kafkaesque' and a 'witch-hunt' against him. 

Since being barred from ministry for conduct unbecoming of a priest, Gomes has written extensively on his own blog and for the Conservative Woman blog site. He refers to female bishops as 'bishopesses' and in one blog badged as 'satirical' he described a 'gaggle of anorexic and bulimic teenage girls' accompanying 'Rachel Treweek, Bishopess of Gloucester'.

Elsewhere he described Sarah Mullally, the new Bishop of London, as 'safe space Sarah, the box-ticking Bishopette of Londonistan' who 'doesn't have the foggiest idea about the biblical gospel'.

Gomes told Christian Today: 'It feels wonderful to return to an organisation that barred me from its altar and pulpit and I have not an ounce of regret, because it opened even wider doors of opportunity to enable me to flourish as a writer and journalist.' He said he would 'thank' his accusers because 'God brought immense good through it all.' 

Gomes told Christian Today he would call on the Archbishop of Canterbury to apologise over the Bell case and demand a meeting between Bell's niece and the current Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner. He also said he would call for references to Bishop Bell that had been removed or altered after the allegations against him emerged to be restored.

Bishop Bell was deeply revered in the Church of England and was one of the Church's most respected 20th century leaders. However his reputation was destroyed in 2015 when the Church of England appeared to admit he was a paedophile by publicly apologising to an alleged victim, known only as Carol, and paid her more than £30,000 in damages and legal fees after a civil claim was launched.

A subsequent review of how the Church dealt with the accusations by Lord Carlile QC found it 'rushed to judgment' and made 'serious errors'. 

A dedicated group of supporters are hoping to clear Bell's name. Thus far Welby has declined to apologise and insisted the Church's principle of transparency when it comes to abuse cases was the right one.

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