Peter Ball is reportedly in discussions about joining the Catholic Diocese of Clifton

An Anglican bishop who was jailed for sexually abusing 18 young men is converting to Catholicism to “live and worship in anonymity”.

Peter Ball, who was Bishop of Lewes and of Gloucester for the Church of England, was jailed for 32 months in October 2015 for offences dating back to the 1970s.

A spokesman confirmed that he has been in talks to join the Catholic Diocese of Clifton, although he is unlikely to take Holy Orders.

The Daily Mail reports that his identical twin brother Michael, who served as an Anglican bishop, sent an email to friends and relatives revealing the plan.

“The events of the last years and rightly or wrongly the battering by the Church have totally wearied and reduced us,” Michael said. “We will proabably [sic] be joining the Roman Catholic Church soon.

“We love The Church of England but would like to end our days in a church where we can live and worship in anonymity and without constant fear.”

Michael Ball mistakenly sent the message to a BBC journalist, who showed it to Peter Saunders, a member of the Vatican commission for protecting minors.

“It’s not surprising they are moving to another church,” Saunders said. “If the Catholic hierarchy welcome [Peter Ball] I hope they put in place every possible safeguard so that people know something about his background and he can never, ever pose a threat to children or young people again.”

He also said it was “disgusting” that the brothers were acting as though victims.

The Catholic Diocese of Arundel and Brighton said: “We confirm Peter Ball has been in contact with the Roman Catholic diocese of Clifton, in which diocese he now lives, expressing an interest in becoming a member of the Catholic Church.

“This matter is subject to discussions between Clifton diocese and the statutory authorities, who are the lead with regards to Peter Ball’s risk management in the community.

“The Church of England authorities including their safeguarding team are aware of this request.”