Several Church of England bishops have criticized UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson after he refused to sack his chief aide Dominic Cummings, who is accused of breaking lockdown restrictions multiple times.
Cummings drove 260 miles across England in March to stay with his parents while his wife was sick with Covid-19 symptoms.
His movements, during a time when most of the UK was in lockdown, have sparked a political scandal in Britain. Johnson claimed on Sunday that his chief aide acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity.”
The prime minister’s decision to stand by Cummings has opened up a rare public rift between the UK government and the Church of England.
“Unless very soon we see clear repentance, including the sacking of Cummings, I no longer know how we can trust what ministers say sufficiently for [the Church of England] to work together with them on the pandemic,” Bishop of Manchester David Walker said on Twitter on Sunday evening.
Bishop of Bristol Vivienne Faul accused Johnson of having “no respect for the people.”
“The bonds of peace and our common life… have been dangerously undermined this evening,” she added.
“I find myself deeply worried by the [prime minister’s] judgement call on this one,” said Bishop of Reading Olivia Graham.
“Not from a political perspective but a moral one. His response lacks both integrity and respect and he has just made his task of leading us through this crisis much, much harder.”
The bishops of Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, Ripon and Truro also voiced dismay on Twitter over Johnson’s decision to retain Cummings.