The Bishop of St Davids, the Right Reverend Dr Joanna Penberthy, has sparked outrage amongst Conservatives after telling Twitter to “never, never, never trust a Tory”.
Penberthy posted it in response to another tweet, claiming the Tories have been “scheming to abolish the Welsh Assembly since its inception”. “They say that this is not true but we know better. Just think of the lies of Boris Johnson,” the original tweet added.
The Bishop’s account suggests she is a Remainer who wants to “get the Tories out”.
This made the Spectator’s gossip columnist Steerpike label the Bishop as an “Anglican bore”.
Steerpike’s article today read: “The bishop is a #FBPE Remainer headbanger who wants to #GTTO (get the Tories out).
“She is keen to let everyone knows that she ‘will forever remain a Welsh European’ and has been happily sharing nationalist propaganda.”
It added: “The bishop is not averse to giving counsel to her 3,000 followers either, delivering not just spiritual guidance but political guidance too.
“The bristling bishop seems keen to assert that these are somehow ‘personal views’ – as if a senior member of the Anglican clergy in Wales can simply say whatever they like provided they’re not wearing a mitre.
“If the views are personal, why are they being broadcast into the public sphere?”
Twitter users were quick to react to the debate.
Toby Forster said: “Why are the Spectator trying to cancel a Bishop?”
Why are the Spectator trying to cancel a bishop https://t.co/bcSI7j0TLU— Toby Forster (@TobyForster88) June 3, 2021
Another user said: “Wonderful bishop, horrible article.”
Wonderful bishop ❤️, horrible article. https://t.co/dy40LIFjqI— xHopeful Human (@jebear) June 3, 2021
And Mark Collins said it is “refreshingly honest” to see a Bishop “expecting the government to meet the Nolan principles”.
“My kind of Bishop,” Andrew Rankin chipped in.
Yesterday, Penberthy published a statement “sincerely apologising” for the offence caused.
“I, of course, trust and have trusted many Conservatives and know there are many honourable people in that party,” she said in the apology.
She added: “I further apologise for other tweets I have posted which have caused upset and offence.
“While I hold strong political views, I have expressed them on Twitter in a way which was both irresponsible and disrespectful and I deeply regret this.”
Today, the Church in Wales issued a statement as well, in which it said it expects “all its clergy to engage robustly in public life”.
But it also said they need to be “respectful” and acknowledge various political opinions within the Church.
“We do not support intemperate claims or poorly informed commentary and we urge all clergy to recognise that, as public office holders, there should be no expectation that personal views will be regarded as private,” the comment read.