Bishops have beaten the prime minister, saying that the Church of England should now refuse to cooperate with the government after his “risky” defense of Dominic Cummings “has violated the nation’s confidence.”
Speaking at Downing Street Daily Press Conference on Sunday evening, Boris Johnson said his chief advisor had “acted responsibly, legally and with integrity” by driving 260 miles to County Durham to isolate due to childcare concerns.
But bishops have reacted furiously on social media, saying that his defense of Cummings is an “insult” and that he “has no respect for the people.”
Bishop of Worcester John Inge said, “The Prime Minister’s daring defense of Cummings is an affront to all those who have made such sacrifices to ensure the safety of others.
Bishop of Worcester John Inge (left) and Bishop of Durham Paul Butler (right) both spoke out against the Prime Minister
And Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, whose diocese covers the Cummings family farm, said, “There will be people in Durham defending Boris for his reputation with Dominic Cummings. But most who have worked so hard to stick to last week’s rules and guidelines will feel hurt, angry, and disappointed.
“For the sake of the nation, it was quickly rebuilt.”
Manchester Bishop David Walker praised his colleagues for their statements. He added: “Unless we soon see clear conversion, including firing Cummings, I don’t remember how we can rely on what ministers say enough to get @churchofengland to work with them on the pandemic.
And Vivienne Faull, the bishop of Bristol, tweeted: “Day 61 # live differently in a country where the prime minister has no respect for the people.
“The bond of peace and our common life (which had been wonderfully strengthened during CV-19 testing) has been dangerously undermined tonight.”
At the end of the briefing on Sunday, The Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, said: “The question now is, do we accept lying, patronizing and treating a prime minister like mugs?
“The moral question is not for Cummings – it is for Prime Minister and Ministers / MPs who find this behavior acceptable.
The portrayed Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, praised his colleagues for speaking out. He added: “Unless we soon see clear repentance, including firing Cummings, I don’t remember how to trust what ministers say enough to get @churchofengland to work with them on the pandemic
“What should we teach our children? (I ask as a responsible father.) “
A few minutes earlier, the Rt Revd Dr. Helen-Ann Hartley, Bishop of Ripon, commented in response to a critical tweet about the prime minister.
She wrote, “There were never integrity, trust, and leadership; just a driven, deluded power ideology that has total contempt for the most weak and vulnerable people, and those who work to protect and care for us with a relatively low salary. ‘
Dr Hartley also shared some details about her experience that she couldn’t see her parents while closing.
She tweeted, “My parents live in Durham, an hour’s drive from where we live. My father ended radiotherapy just before the closure.
“I’ve missed his birthday, Mother’s Day and countless other catch-ups that would have happened.
“And that’s a fraction of a story compared to others.”
In a clear reference to US President Donald Trump, The Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden, also tweeted Sunday evening, “Johnson has now become full Trump.”
Later on Sunday evening, The Rt Revd gave Dr. Pete Wilcox, Bishop of Sheffield, commented on Twitter: “I don’t usually tweet politics, and I carefully led the pandemic. But tonight I have to say: the Prime Minister and his cabinet are undermining the electorate’s confidence and the risks to life are real. ‘
The Rt Revd Dr. David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, seemed to wonder how the Church of England could cooperate with the government during the Corona virus crisis.
He wrote on Twitter on Sunday: “Unless we soon see clear repentance, including firing Cummings, I don’t remember how we can rely on what ministers say enough to get @churchofengland to work with them on the pandemic.”
Commenting on Mr Baines ‘earlier tweet, The Rt Revd Olivia Graham, Bishop of Reading, wrote on Twitter:’ I am deeply concerned about the Prime Minister’s judgment on this.
“Not from a political point of view, but from a moral point of view.
“His response lacks both integrity and respect, and he has just made his job of guiding us through this crisis much more difficult.”
Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman also wrote on Twitter that she was left “ deeply troubled ” tonight after the Prime Minister’s briefing.
She added, “We can forgive mistakes and poor judgment and understand and admire loyalty, but forgiveness and understanding need openness and we haven’t seen it tonight.”