Wales’s first woman bishop, 61, posts ‘Never trust a Tory’ over claims Conservatives wanted to abolish the Welsh Parliament
- Dr Joanna Penberthy, 61, was made Church in Wales’ first woman bishop in 2017
- But she sparked controversy after posting a message saying ‘never trust a Tory’
- It has taken ten weeks to apologise ‘after senior Conservatives complained’
A leading female bishop has been forced to apologise after slamming the Conservative party on Twitter.
Dr Joanna Penberthy was the Church in Wales’ first woman bishop when she was appointed to St Davids in 2017.
But the 61-year-old, who has previously expressed her anti-Brexit and anti-Conservative views, sparked controversy after posting a politicised message in response to a row over Welsh devolution.
Dr Penberthy wrote ‘never, never, never trust a Tory’ in March this year – and it has taken ten weeks to apologise only after it is understood senior Conservatives complained.
Dr Joanna Penberthy was the Church in Wales’ first woman bishop when she was appointed to St Davids in 2017
Dr Penberthy wrote ‘never, never, never trust a Tory’ in March this year – and it has taken ten weeks to apologise
In a statement, Dr Penberthy, who has 3,287 Twitter followers, said: ‘On March 25th 2021 I put out a private tweet about Conservative Party supporters which has caused offence and for which I sincerely apologise.
‘The tweet was in response to another tweet which claimed that the Conservative Party was planning to abolish the Senedd.
‘I acknowledge that while there may be those within the Conservative Party who oppose Welsh devolution, it is not the policy of the Conservative Party to abolish the Senedd and I should have checked all the facts before tweeting.
‘I, of course, trust and have trusted many Conservatives and know there are many honourable people in that party.
‘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.
‘I have now closed my account down.’
The 61-year-old (centre), who has previously expressed her anti-Brexit and anti-Conservative views, sparked controversy after posting a politicised message in response to a row over Welsh devolution
Her Twitter handle had included the acronyms GTTO and FBPE – which stand for ‘Get The Tories Out and Follow Back Pro European’.
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said: ‘The many divisive and intolerant views pushed out from this very public account by the Bishop of St Davids will be troubling to many of her parishioners in West Wales.’
The Church in Wales said the Bishop’s ‘strong political views are well known’.
A spokeswoman said: ‘The Church in Wales expects all its clergy to engage robustly in public life.
‘However, they need to do so in a way which is respectful, responsible and fair, acknowledging the breadth and diversity of political opinion 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.’