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Church in Wales’ First Female Bishop Who Posted Controversial Tweet, Steps Down Due to Ill Health

The Church in Wales’ first female bishop, Dr Joanna Penberthy, has announced her retirement from her role due to ill health. 

This decision comes after she faced heavy criticism for a tweet in 2021, where she expressed her distrust towards the Conservative party, stating, “never never never trust a Tory.” The tweet was made in response to a social media post claiming that the Conservative party intended to abolish the Welsh Senedd in Cardiff.

The tweet from Dr Penberthy, posted in 2021, immediately ignited a firestorm of controversy. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the Church of England, expressed his deep embarrassment over the tweet. The statement from the influential religious figure highlighted the sensitivity surrounding political neutrality within the clergy.

After expressing remorse and expressing her intention to deactivate her social media account, Dr. Penberthy received sick leave from the diocese of St David’s for a month, which was later extended for several additional months. 

Presently, due to her ongoing health issues, Dr. Penberthy has announced that she will step down from her position in July. In a statement, she acknowledged the seriousness of her decision, citing her constant struggle with migraines as a significant impediment to fulfilling her responsibilities.

Upon hearing the news, the Most Rev Andrew John, Archbishop of Wales, expressed gratitude to Dr. Penberthy for her dedicated service in ministry. “She has contributed significantly to areas of church life in particular on environmental matters and with our Social Responsibility network,” Archbishop Andrew said.

Dr Penberthy’s tenure as the first female bishop in Wales was marked by her dedication to championing gender equality and inclusivity within the Church. Her appointment in 2017 was hailed as a significant milestone for gender representation in religious leadership.

She worked tirelessly to promote the rights and voices of women within the Church, making significant strides toward creating a more diverse and inclusive religious institution.

Despite the controversy surrounding her tweet, Dr Penberthy’s retirement is met with respect for her contributions and achievements. Colleagues and members of the Church in Wales recognize her commitment and tireless efforts in advancing progressive values and social justice causes.

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