Dean of Canterbury defends appointment of priest - after she faced barrage of online abuse over her tattoos

20 July 2023, 08:37

Reverend Wendy Dalrymple has received a backlash over her tattoos
Reverend Wendy Dalrymple has received a backlash over her tattoos. Picture: Canterbury Cathedral/Getty/Twitter

By Asher McShane

A newly-appointed cleric has been forced to brave an onslaught of abuse after trolls criticised her for showing her heavily tattooed arms.

Reverend Wendy Dalrymple found herself at the centre of an online backlash after Canterbury Cathedral tweeted a photo of her in a short-sleeved dog collared dress that revealed her tattoos.

She was labelled “vain” and said to have put on a “peacock display” despite the tattoos being related to her faith.

One person wrote: “'No problem with the tatts in private, but the peacock display here, in her official photo, suggests both pride and vanity.”

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Another said: "Pathetic in every way. The tats are disgusting and should bar her from any religious role."

Others however sent messages of support: "You look awesome. Remember the same trolls and misogynist views happened 30yrs ago when the first female vicars were ordained."

People on social media accused her of a 'peacock' display
People on social media accused her of a 'peacock' display. Picture: Canterbury Cathedral

Wendy has shared photos of her tattoos on social media detailing their religious significance.

The new precentor and residentiary canon designate, and head of worship and events responded, writing online: “So not actually resharing but the thread that follows from this charming feedback accuses me of pride, narcissism, mental illness, being an idiot, not believing in God oh and having a top too tight that will distract men. How's your day going?”

She went on to tell the Independent: “Sadly, the negativity was not a complete surprise as the online world can bring out the worst in people but it can also bring out the best.

“I don't tend to engage directly with those who hurl abuse from behind a keyboard but I think there are times when it is good to shine a light on the comments that people make.

“The many hundreds of messages I received of support including that of the Dean of Canterbury and my future colleagues more than make up for the silliness of the few.

“The best response was hearing from someone who said, on showing my picture to their tattooed daughter and son-in-law, 'they didn't know people like them were allowed in church, and now they do”.

The Dean of Canterbury, David Monteith said he was “saddened by the abuse she has received.”

A Canterbury Cathedral spokesman said: 'Canterbury Cathedral is delighted by Wendy's appointment, and we can't wait to welcome her to our community.

'Whilst the overwhelming majority of feedback to Wendy's appointment has been extremely positive, unfortunately there has been some online abuse about her appearance from a small number of individuals – sadly, a common experience for many women. This is unacceptable.”