The Bishop of Coventry has said he is "deeply saddened" after a decision to ban an Irish language epitaph on a pensioner's headstone due to political "passions" received widespread criticism.
The Church of England said the ruling, which prevented the family of 73-year-old Margaret Keane from inscribing "In ar gcroithe go deo" ("In our hearts forever"), did not reflect its national policy.
The chancellor of the Consistory Court in the Diocese of Coventry, Stephen Eyre QC, ruled that the Irish phrase "must be accompanied by a translation which can be in a smaller font size".
The judgment has provoked outrage, with Irish comedian Dara O'Briain describing it as "deeply stupid".
"The judgment is that an imaginary person, at some time in the future, might see 'You live on in our Hearts' written in Irish, not understand it, but just presume it must be political, since it's Irish and then what? Feel uncomfortable? Unsettled?" he wrote on Twitter.
"So the family don't get to give the tribute they want to their beloved mother because we apparently have to protect the feelings of some imaginary idiot in the future.
"Someone who can't imagine the Irish language can carry any human emotions other than 'Tiocfaidh ar La' (an expression meaning Our Day Will Come, often used as an aspiration for a united Ireland)."
Mrs Keane's family had sought permission for an inscription on her grave in the grounds of St Giles Church in Exhall, near Nuneaton.
Since the ruling, the Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth, said he was "deeply saddened whenever people's identity is hurt or offended".
"I rejoice in the life of this great city with all its linguistic, ethnic, religious and racial richness," he said.
"And I rejoice in the Irish community of Coventry in all its forms and for the life that has flowed into the city through its people and which continues to flourish today.
"I am deeply saddened whenever people's identity is hurt or offended.
"The Diocese of Coventry will continue to work for reconciliation in our world. I am praying for this particular situation, especially for a distressed family, and I am ensuring they are made aware of their legal rights according to the procedures of the Consistory Court."
Mrs Keane's family are appealing against the decision.