MP Virginia Crosbie receives apology from senior bishop in row over private church conversation

Virginia Crosbie, MP for Ynys Môn, received a letter apologising for social media behaviour by “someone who associates with the Church in Wales”

A Conservative MP has received an apology from Wales’ most senior cleric after being targeted online about a conversation she says she had privately when she attended church. 

The apology, which came from The Bishop of Bangor, said the behaviour by “someone who associates with the Church in Wales” was “unkind and unacceptable”. 

The Right Reverend Andrew John told Virginia Crosbie he will remind church leaders of guidelines around “tolerance and respect”. 

The Bishop of Bangor said the behaviour was “unkind and unacceptable”.  Credit: PA

In Ms Crosbie’s letter, she said she was “exceptionally disappointed” by what happened and that she had been “expecting to find spiritual support in my parish.” She added she hopes "that in future my attendance at church will not be placed in the public domain and ridiculed."

The Bishop, who is the acting head of the Church in Wales following the recent retirement of the Archbishop of Wales said,“May I apologise unreservedly for the behaviour of someone who associates with the Church in Wales. Their behaviour was unkind and unacceptable. 

"We are addressing the specific behaviour with the individuals concerned and expect this not to happen again.

"More generally I am repeating my guidelines on appropriate use of social media and the Christian responsibility for tolerance and respect through my regular Bishop’s letter.

"Once again my sincere apologies."

The MP for Ynys Môn revealed the exchange in a recent meeting of the Welsh Affairs committee.

During that session, the Welsh Secretary also criticised a Church in Wales Bishop for separate social media comments which caused controversy. 

Dr Joanna Penberthy apologised and said she "deeply regretted" an online comment she made which said "Never, never, never trust a Tory". Credit: Church in Wales

At the beginning of June, the Bishop of St Davids Dr Joanna Penberthy apologised and said she "deeply regretted" a Twitter post in which she said "Never, never, never trust a Tory".

The Church has since announced that Dr Penberthy is “unwell and taking time off work, following the advice of her doctor.” She is expected to be away for the next month. 

In the meeting of the Welsh Affairs Committee, Simon Hart told MPs that the Bishop’s tweet was "an extraordinary act of intolerance" and that he had written to the Archbishop of Canterbury to discuss the matter.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is not the head of the Church in Wales, but is the head of the Anglican Communion, to which the Church in Wales belongs. 

In his reply to Simon Hart, Justin Welby said that he was “deeply embarrassed by the use of such language by a church leader. It is absolutely unacceptable, and I am truly sorry".