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Archbishop of Canterbury ‘deeply embarrassed’ at bishop’s ‘never trust a Tory’ tweet

19 Jun 2021 4 minutes Read
Bishop of St Davids, Rt Revd Joanna Penberthy. Picture by @PoblDewi / Twitter

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he is “deeply embarrassed” after a Welsh bishop tweeted “never, never, never trust a Tory”.

Justin Welby has written to the Secretary of State for Wales to apologise for the tweet by the Bishop of St Davids Joanna Penberthy.

She had written her tweet in response to another Twitter user who had alleged that the Conservatives were planning to abolish the Senedd or Welsh Parliament, formerly known as the Welsh Assembly.

Earlier this month, she deleted her account and apologised, admitting that it was not the policy of the Conservative Party to close down the Senedd.

Support

Dr Penberthy, who wrote that she held strong political views, also said: “I, of course, trust and have trusted many Conservatives and know there are many honourable people in that party.”

At the time of her apology Dr Penberthy received support from many people including former leader of Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood and politics and free speech organisation Ekklesia.

 

But in a letter sent to the bishop, English West Dorset Tory MP Chris Loder accused the Church in Wales cleric of holding “divisive views” and called on her to stand down.

In his letter to Conservative Preseli-Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart, in which Ty Ddewi or St Davids is located, Mr Welby said the language used was “absolutely unacceptable” from a church leader.

The BBC reported that Mr Hart had previously written to Mr Welby saying that although citizens, including clergy, had a right to engage with politicians, Dr Penberthy’s comments “seem to fall well wide of that objective”.

‘Respect’

“It’s disappointing that Dr Penberthy does not seem to appreciate or respect the fact that many of the Church in Wales’s staunchest supporters may have political views that are at odds with her own,” the Welsh Secretary said.

“They . . . do not take kindly to being collectively abused online for so doing.”

Mr Hart pointed out that St Davids is in the Tory-held Preseli Pembrokeshire constituency and he highlighted another message in which she criticised people voting for the Conservatives.

‘Ashamed’

Dr Penberthy, who became the Church in Wales’ first woman bishop in 2016, had also tweeted: “A very sad indictment is that so many still want to vote Tory. Absolutely appalling. I am ashamed of each and every one of you.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury wrote to Mr Hart and said he was “truly sorry.”

“I am especially sympathetic because I am very well aware of what it is to be trolled in this way (including by people of all shades of political opinion),” he said.

“It is intolerable, and I am determined to work with my sisters and brothers to find better ways to express disagreement.”

The Archbishop of York has also spoken to the Secretary of State for Wales about Dr Penberthy’s comments.

The UK government wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace because the Church in Wales, which currently does not have a senior bishop since the last Archbishop retired, is part of the Anglican Communion.

Wales’ most senior bishop apologised and added people of all political persuasion are welcome in the Church in Wales.

Bishop of Bangor, Andrew John said: “I regret the intemperate language that she used and the hurt it caused.

“I have spoken with the bishop and believe her to be sincere in her apology and that she wishes to improve the way in which her ministry operates in the public domain.

“Clergy have a role to play in holding politicians and others to account in their public office. In order to do this effectively, clergy need to be respectful and robust in both their delivery and discourse,” he said.

“I regret the impression that has been formed that we favour one political viewpoint over another.”

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
3 months ago

Not THE Arch Oilman Welby…Be Strong and of Good Courage Joanna Penberthy.

Richard
Richard
3 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

I agree. We need religious leaders who speak their minds. My uncle was J. C. Wansey, the highly principled and frequently embattled Rector of St. Mary’s Woodford and I’d rather see the occasional foot in mouth than slavish adherence to politeness. Don’t you dare resign, Bishop Penberthy.

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
3 months ago

What has it got to do with him anyway?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
3 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Owen

Because there is as yet no Arch Bishop for Wales he thinks he can pull rank on a ‘woman’ Bishop!

Whoever goes to Welshpuddle on Monday all the best, they are a good bunch in ‘Sheeptown’, good market too…

Last edited 3 months ago by Mab Meirion
Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
3 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

The Church in Wales does have its own Archbishop who John Davies, it is an independent church in the Anglican Communion.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
3 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Owen

He retired 2 May 2021

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
3 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

The post of Archbishop of Wales has not been abolished and replaced by the Archbishop of Canterbury as far as I know.

Pwl
Pwl
3 months ago
Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
3 months ago
Reply to  Pwl

yes, the Arch Oilman ran his colours up the mast that time Pwl, now we see how low he can crawl…Is there no one at the head of these English Organs of State there by merit? Guess not…

defaid
defaid
3 months ago

This looks like an ideal opportunity to insert a puppet bishop into this increasingly self-aware country.

How can clergy be robust in both their delivery and their discourse if they are not free to speak openly?

And finally, knowing some reasonably moral (if misguided 😉
) Tories, I suspect Dr P merely accidentally omitted the word ‘politician’.

Quornby
Quornby
3 months ago

Apologise!!!??? For stating a manifest truth?

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
3 months ago

According to the book, Jesus threw the money lenders out of the temple. Investment bankers are the modern equivalent and the Tory party is very much their party. The Church has invested in all sorts of money making schemes without being too fussy about who does the money making for them. I suspect JC himself would be censured by the Archbishop (and I don’t mean Jeremy Corbyn!).

Anthony Jones
Anthony Jones
3 months ago
Reply to  Huw Davies

I quite agree. I left the Anglican communion and became a Roman Catholic several years ago because the Anglican church was still “the Tory party at prayer”. It’s nice to see a bishop standing up for Christian values.

Mandi A
Mandi A
3 months ago
Reply to  Anthony Jones

And humanitarian and community values which Wales prides itself on.

Anthony Jones
Anthony Jones
3 months ago
Reply to  Mandi A

I quite agree, and if you express your faith properly then those values are part of the package 😁

Hannergylch
Hannergylch
3 months ago

I think you’re somewhat mixed up. Her job is to promote Christian teachings, including “Love your enemy” — which has to start with civility and avoidance of sweeping generalisations about the character of ‘your enemy’. I steer clear of organised religion myself, but I have to admit that Jesus made a good point when he said “Love your enemy”; and Dr Penberthy is being criticised for forgetting that particular teaching. Your use of the word “woketopian” seems to be especially muddled. Given the meaning of “woke” (in its adjectival sense), you are presumably hostile *either* to vigilance against bigotry, *or*… Read more »

Charles L. Gallagher
Charles L. Gallagher
3 months ago

Nice to see at least some in the C of E is prepared, to tell the TRUTH the Tories

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
3 months ago

The Church in Wales is not part of the Church of England, has not been for over a century.

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
3 months ago

The arch bishops of tories, he is as bad as any of them- as the lady said correctly “never trust a Tory”

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
3 months ago

I strongly support bishops engaging with political issues. But naked political tribalism is not appropriate.

But the Church in Wales has ceased to be subject to the authority of Canterbury for more than a century. It is not Welby’s place to stick his nose into a matter that is outside the Church of England’s purview.

Bruce
Bruce
3 months ago

The Church of Wales is disestablished so it’s got nothing to do with him in any case.

Mick Tems
Mick Tems
3 months ago

I stand with Joanna! At least she had the courage to tell the truth about the Tories. And who does Welby think he is, sticking his oilman’s rich nose into what does not concern him? The Church In Wales and and the C of E are completely separate bodies.

Nick Randall-Smith
Nick Randall-Smith
3 months ago

The Tories have just cut overseas aid to the poorest and most deprived people on the planet whilst sending an aircraft carrier full of American war planes on a world tour, what would Christ have to say about that? My sympathy is with Bishop Joanna, she is just expressing what she thinks her faith is about.

Well done Bishop Joanna.

Mandi A
Mandi A
3 months ago

The Archbishop of Wales is chosen by electoral college from the diocesan bishops of Wales, holding the Archbishopric in addition to their own diocese. It is not an appointment of the Prime Minister or the Queen as the Archbishop of Canterbury is. It is not in the gift of Lambeth Palace. Bishop Joanna was appointed by Archbishop Barry Morgan who was a great supporter of women priests, same sex marriage and other “radical” positions. Justin Welby has no authority over the Church in Wales.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
3 months ago

How depressing to think that the head of the Church of England could stoop so low as to deceive his congregation to further the ambition of a would-be dictator…a man that corrupts all who side with him…

hdavies15
hdavies15
3 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Any man dressing up in those expensive frocks should not be trusted, never ever.
C of E full of moral misfits, just like Tory politicians !

Quornby
Quornby
3 months ago

So high commissioner Hart went whinging to a cleric in another country? (see reference to letter received by Welby). He would be better employed trying to conjure a measure of charity and empathy in the bowels of the Tory hoard. Difficult I know.

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