Dad accuses bishop of hijacking funeral service with 'awful' war comments
A SWANSEA bishop has apologised to the father of a Carmarthen soldier killed in action in Afghanistan after offending him during the funeral service.
Bombardier Samuel Robinson, of 5th Regiment Royal Artillery, died in an explosion while on foot patrol in the Sangin district of Helmand province on Thursday, July 8.
The 31-year-old, from Pentre Morgan, Bronwydd, was deployed on his fourth operational tour in Afghanistan at the time of his death.
His funeral took place at a packed St Mary's Church in Carmarthen's Union Street on July 30.
The Right Reverend Thomas M Burns, Bishop of Menevia, led the service.
However, comments made by Mr Burns on armed forces funding during the service attracted condemnation from Sam's father Dennis Robinson.
Mr Robinson said he was "horrified and disgusted" by the bishop's comments, which he described as "a political diatribe".
He added: "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.
"It was just disgusting, I was sat in the front pew absolutely fuming.
"He should be there supporting the family. As a fellow priest pointed out, the idea of the service is there to bring comfort and closure."
However, Mr Robinson praised the support given by Sam's former colleagues, especially two injured in the explosion which claimed Sam's life.
"It was a superb turnout, his colleagues and comrades did him proud," he said.
"Peter and Robert, who were both injured in the explosion, came along.
"Robert, who has lost his sight, had only just got out of hospital. He wanted to attend for Sam.
"It was a wonderful turnout, I have no issues with anything else. All the Army, from the top to the bottom, couldn't have been more supportive.
"I have no problem with any of the Army side, he was Army through and through, it was all he wanted to be.
"I just think the bishop was way, way out of line.
"While I don't disagree with what was said, my son was not killed due to a lack of funding, he was killed by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). Comments like that from the bishop don't help. As I told him after the service, he made me proud to be an atheist."
Bishop Burns, of the Mid and West Wales Roman Catholic diocese of Menevia, later said: "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."