The daughter of the late Desmond Tutu is married to a woman
BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGES VIA MPHO TUTU VAN FURTH
Anglican priest Mpho Tutu van Furth has been banned from officiating at a family funeral by the Church of England because she is married to a woman. The daughter of the late Desmond Tutu, Mpho was due to officiate at the funeral of her late godfather, Martin Kenyon, in Shropshire.
The Diocese of Hereford remarked that it was a “difficult situation” and that “advice was given in line with the House of Bishops current guidance on same-sex marriage.” The Church of England does not permit its clergy to enter a same-sex marriage as, according to its official teachings, this institution can only be recognised between a man and a woman.
Mpho Tutu van Furth is an Anglican priest in the Diocese of Washington DC, with US-based The Episcopal Church allowing clergy to enter into same-sex marriages. She was previously kicked out of the Anglican Church for her sexuality.
Her barring has been protested by notable religious figures, including the former Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend Paul Bayes. Bayes has consistently campaigned for greater LGBTQIA inclusion in the Church of England, remarking to “plead that things are difficult is not good enough. We urgently need to make space for conscience, space for pastoral care, and space for love.”
Notably, LGBTQIA activist Peter Tatchell has also spoken out against this injustice, noting that the Church of England is headed by the new King Charles III. “King Charles has pledged his allegiance to this homophobic church which he heads. He is colluding with bigotry. Having a homophobic official state religion is incompatible with our equality laws, as is having our monarch and head of state belong to that church. Separate church and state”, he argued in an Instagram post.
Gay Evangelical Christian Jayne Ozanne, who also chairs the #BanConversionTherapy coalition and is Director of the Ozanne Foundation, was similarly outraged. “The vast majority of the public will read this story and conclude, rightly, that the Church of England is a hypocritical, unloving and cruel institution which most don’t want anything to do with. No wonder we are haemorrhaging people.”
After the decision was made, Mr Kenyon’s family moved the funeral service from St Michael and All Angels in Wentnor to a marquee in the vicarage next door. This way, Mpho Tutu van Furth was permitted to officiate and preach in honour of her godfather.
“It’s incredibly sad. It feels like a bureaucratic response with maybe a lack of compassion”, she unfurled in an interview with BBC News. “It seemed really childish and hurtful. But as sad as that was, there was the joy of having a celebration of a person who could throw open the door to people who are sometimes excluded.”
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