peter ball
Michael Ball (left) announcing his appointment as Bishop of Jarrow on March 18, 1980. His twin brother (right), Peter Ball, is currently Bishop of Lewes. Peter would later go on to be convicted for sexually abusing 18 boys over two decades. Getty Images

According to an independent review, the Church of England “colluded” with a former bishop who sexually abused children for over 20 years, as reported by The Independent Thursday.

“Abuse of Faith,” the title of the report, revealed that officials in the Church of England ignored the sex offenses committed by former bishop Peter Ball in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The report, authored by Dame Moira Gibb, said “the church at its most senior levels and over many years supported him unwisely.” In response to these allegations, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said the Church of England did conceal the child abuse over the years.

Read: Catholic Church Protest: Last Survivor On The Vatican Commission On Child Abuse Quits In Frustration

Ball, 85, was imprisoned for 32 months in 2015 after he admitted to abusing 18 young men over two decades. Some of the men said that Bell made them do “spiritual exercises,” consisting of praying naked and taking cold showers. Neil Todd, one of his victims, later committed suicide.

In 1992, Ball was arrested for suspected indecent assault, but he was still allowed to work in churches and schools. The Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, George Carey, and other church leaders attempted to conceal the problem by withholding information from the police.

The report also stated that Ball “sought to exploit his contact with members of the royal family in order to bolster his position, particularly in the eyes of Lord Carey and others from whom he hoped to receive sympathetic treatment.” Ball implied that he had a friendly relationship with the Prince of Wales and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall in Gloucestershire.

Welby asked Lord Carey to resign from his post as honorary assistant bishop in Oxford, a request to which Carey agreed. Carey also apologized to Ball’s victims.

“The church colluded and concealed rather than seeking help for those who were brave enough to come forward. This is inexcusable and shocking behavior,” Welby said. “We can never be complacent, we must learn lessons.”

The Church of England has not been the only British religious entity to have been stricken with sexual abuse scandals. The Catholic Church’s presence in England previously faced allegations of sexual abuse by members of its clergy.

Between the 1960s and the 1980s, Father Michael Hill, of the diocese of Arundel and Brighton, reportedly sexually abused about 30 boys. Afterward, Bishop Murphy-O’Connor sent him to counseling and to a course at a therapy center. Upon the completion of Hill’s counseling, Murphy-O’Connor allowed Hill to continue in the priesthood, making him the chaplain at Gatwick Airport, where he abused several boys. Some of the boys were disabled. In 1997, Hill went to jail for five years. Compensation was provided to his victims.

“I acknowledged that two years ago. I do so again,” Murphy-O’Connor said in a 2002 letter. “I am deeply sorry for the damage he has done, and to the extent my decision contributed to any of that damage.”

Despite his judgment call about letting Hill continue practicing religion, Murphy-O’Connor became the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales in 2000.

Read: Church Sex Scandal: Mexican Priest Gave Children Alcohol, Showed Them Porn, Abused Them, Gets 16 Years In Prison

A 2011 report titled “The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010” stated that many priests molest because they could not deal with the “sexual revolution.” Although the Church of England and the Catholic Church are different entities, priests in both religions must undergo a religious process vowing moral leadership. The argument against clerical celibacy, the argument to allow priests to marry, in the Catholic church has long been suggested as a way to combat sexual abuse. However, Anglican priests are allowed to marry and have had sexual abuse scandals, such as the large-scale one revealed in the report “Abuse of Faith.”

Ex-Church of England Bishop Peter Ball was released from prison in February 2017. The allegations against him have reignited controversy towards the Church of England after the release of "Abuse of Faith"