Church of England Stops Desmond Tutu’s Daughter From Officiating Funeral
Martin Kenyon, 91, exterior Guy’s Hospital in London, the place he acquired a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Dec. 8, 2020. (Mary Turner/The New York Times)

LONDON — The daughter of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu had needed to honor her godfather’s private want: that she officiate his funeral in England after he died final week.

But the Church of England stopped the Rev. Mpho Tutu van Furth, a priest ordained within the United States, from doing so this week as a result of she is married to a girl, she mentioned.

“I’m stunned by the lack of compassion,” Tutu van Furth mentioned in a telephone interview from Shropshire, in central England, on Friday, calling the choice to bar her from officiating on the funeral of her godfather, Martin Kenyon, 92, unkind. “You can’t speak a message of welcome and love and live a message of exclusion,” she mentioned of the church’s instructing.

Kenyon was a longtime buddy of Tutu, a robust power within the anti-apartheid motion in South Africa and an early, outspoken critic of the Anglican Communion’s stance on homosexual rights. The archbishop was additionally a godfather to Kenyon’s daughter.

The incident has put a highlight on the longtime divide inside the international Anglican Communion over whether or not to simply accept same-sex marriages and ordain brazenly homosexual clergymen and bishops. The Church of England and the Episcopal Church are tied collectively within the international Anglican Communion, which represents about 85 million worshippers all over the world.

But the communion has been slowly fracturing for years because it has debated insurance policies towards clergy and worshippers in same-sex relationships and marriages. The Episcopal Church has taken a stance in favor of acceptance of homosexual clergy and members, beginning with the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson, an brazenly homosexual priest, in New Hampshire in 2003.

The Church of England, nonetheless, has mentioned that below its non secular legal guidelines, whereas it permits same-sex civil partnerships, it doesn’t help same-sex marriage as a result of it might go towards its teachings. Gay clergy are anticipated to stay celibate, and people in same-sex marriages will not be permitted to be ordained.

Rights campaigners and a few non secular leaders have condemned the incident and the church’s insurance policies as homophobic, discriminatory and at odds with the faith’s message.

Tutu van Furth mentioned that she was knowledgeable by native representatives of the church that whereas she might sit within the congregation through the ceremony, she wouldn’t be permitted to ship the eulogy, say prayers or carry out readings on the funeral. She mentioned she understood why native officers had conveyed the message, however mentioned the way in which church authorities had dealt with it was “not right.”

The native diocese of Hereford, by which the funeral was held, acknowledged it was “a difficult situation,” including that it had adopted recommendation given according to printed steerage from the church’s senior management — which mentioned that getting married to somebody of the identical intercourse was not “appropriate contact” and would “clearly be at variance with the teaching of the Church of England.”

“The Church of England believes that all people are made in the image of God and must be cherished for who they are,” a spokesperson for the church mentioned in assertion. The church was within the course of of “learning and listening about questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage,” the assertion mentioned, which had brought about “deep and painful divisions.”

Bishops are anticipated to formally publish suggestions on a method ahead on LGBTQ coverage amongst different matters in February, when the General Synod, the nationwide meeting of the Church of England, will meet.

“There are people of every age who need the church in the times of hardship and pain and loss,” Tutu van Furth mentioned, including that the choice had additionally upset the household of Kenyon. “This is supposed to be the place for people to go who have nowhere else to go.”

To honor his needs and permit her involvement, Tutu van Furth mentioned that the funeral — which she described as prayerful and joyful — was in the end held Thursday not in a church however within the backyard of Kenyon’s residence in Shropshire.

Kenyon and Tutu grew shut whereas the 2 lived in London within the Sixties as Tutu studied theology in King’s College. (Kenyon additionally gained a bit of fame for his responses to being one of the primary individuals in Britain to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine in 2020, telling The New York Times he was wanting ahead to being embraced by his grandchildren.) The archbishop was a supporter of homosexual rights, telling the BBC in 2007: “If God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn’t worship that God.”

Tutu van Furth has spoken beforehand about her painful experiences with the church after she married Marceline van Furth, a Dutch educational specializing in international youngsters’s well being. That pressured her handy again her license to officiate as a priest within the Anglican Communion’s province in southern Africa, a choice, she mentioned on the time, that felt prefer it “stripped away,” a component of her. Based within the Netherlands, Tutu van Furth now preaches at a church in Amsterdam.

For Jayne Ozanne, an advocate for homosexual rights within the church and a member of the Church of England’s General Synod, its legislative physique, the reverend’s expertise reaffirmed that the Church of England was “institutionally homophobic.”

“It’s a cruel, crass and hypocritical decision,” she mentioned, including that church leaders had saved silent for too lengthy on LGBTQ rights.

“We are investing millions in mission and evangelism without getting the core basics right of a church who serves all and shows the unconditional love for England,” she added.

This article initially appeared in The New York Times .


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