The Church of England has barred Desmond Tutu’s daughter from leading a funeral because she is married to a woman.
Mpho Tutu van, an Anglican priest in the Diocese of Washington DC, was asked to officiate at her late godfather, Martin Kenyon’s funeral in Shropshire on Thursday.
According to Ms. Tutu van Furth, it “seemed really churlish and hurtful.”
The Diocese of Hereford described the situation as “difficult.”
Because its official teaching is that marriage is only between one man and one woman, the Church of England does not allow its clergy to be in a same-sex marriage.
However, its sister Anglican church in the United States, The Episcopal Church, allows clergy to marry gay people.
“Advice was given in accordance with the House of Bishops’ current guidance on same-sex marriage,” the Diocese of Hereford said in a statement.
Former Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend Paul Bayes, a campaigner for the church to change its position on sexuality, stated that “pleading that things are difficult is not good enough.”
“We urgently need to create space for conscience, pastoral care, and love,” he said.
The funeral service for Mr. Kenyon was moved from St. Michael and All Angels in Wentnor, close to Bishops Castle, to a marquee in the vicarage next door so Ms. Tutu van Furth could preside and preach after the family was informed of the Church’s choice.
It’s very sad, said Ms. Tutu van Furth. It appears to be a formal response that may lack compassion.
It struck me as extremely hurtful and churlish. Even though that was sad, there was joy in honoring someone who could open doors for those who are sometimes shut out.
After receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, Martin Kenyon, then 91, made headlines online in December 2020 for his candid responses during a CNN interview.
When asked how it felt to be among the first in the world to get the shot, he responded, “I don’t think I feel much at all.” However, he added that he had granddaughters and hoped not to have the “bug” now.
He asked, “What’s the point of dying when I’ve lived this long?
Desmond Tutu, the late South African archbishop, and Mr. Kenyon were close friends.
After marrying Marceline van Furth, a Dutch academic, in 2015, Ms. Tutu van Furth was obliged to renounce her right to serve as a priest in South Africa.
Desmond Tutu, who died in December 2021, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his work against apartheid in South Africa. He also advocated for gay rights and supported same-sex marriage.
“I wouldn’t go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, but I would much rather go somewhere else “In 2013, he stated. “I would not worship a homophobic God, that is how strongly I feel about this.”
He continued: “I am as committed to this campaign as I was to the fight against apartheid. It is on the same level for me.”