BY TOM BROOKS-POLLOCK THE BISHOP of Menevia has apologised to the family of a soldier killed in Afghanistan after they accused him of launching a “political diatribe” at the soldier’s funeral.
Bishop Thomas Burns said sorry to the family of Bombardier Samuel Robinson, 31, of the 5th Regiment Royal Artillery, who died in an explosion in Helmand province in July.
Bombardier Robinson’s father, Dennis, had criticised Bishop Burns for his funeral sermon at St Mary’s Church, Camarthen, Wales, in which he attacked cuts in Army funding and equipment.
Mr Robinson, 62, from Bronwydd in west Wales, said afterwards that he was “disgusted” and “fuming” at Bishop Burns.
Soon afterwards Bishop Burns, who was formerly Bishop of the Forces, apologised to the family. “If what I said in my sermon added to Mr Robinson’s distress, which I did not intend, I ask him to accept my apologies, without excuse or reservation,” he said.
Explaining why he was angry Mr Robinson said: “He completely missed the fact that the family were there. It’s not that I disagree with the views, but he made the whole thing into a media circus. Instead of turning his attentions to supporting Sam’s family he launched into this political diatribe.
“He should be there support ing the family. As a fellow priest pointed out, the idea of the service is there to bring comfort and closure.” He said that his daughter, Corinna, has also written a letter of complaint to the bishop after the funeral.
He said he had personally told the bishop his comments made him “proud to be an atheist”.
Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West, also criticised the homily despite his own opposition to the war.