Church of England bans Desmond Tutu’s daughter from conducting funeral

Mpho Tutu van Furth married his wife, Marceline, in December 2015, and was later forced to give up her license to serve as a priest in South Africa.

The daughter of the late Desmond Tutu has been banned by the Church of England from conducting a funeral because she is married to a woman.

Mpho Tutu van Furth is an Anglican priest from the Diocese of Washington and had been invited to officiate at the funeral of his late godfather, Martin Kenyon, in Shropshire on Thursday.

Ms Tutu van Furth told BBC News it ‘seemed really rude and hurtful’.

The Diocese of Hereford said it was “a difficult situation”.

The Church of England does not allow its clergy to be in a same-sex marriage because its official teaching is that marriage is only between a man and a woman. However, its sister Anglican church in the United States, the Episcopal Church, allows clergy to enter into same-sex marriages.

“Advice has been given in accordance with current House of Bishops guidance on same-sex marriage,” a statement from the Diocese of Hereford read.

The former Bishop of Liverpool, the Very Reverend Paul Bayes, who is campaigning for the church to change its stance on sexuality, said ‘arguing that things are difficult is not good enough’.

“We urgently need to make room for conscience, pastoral care and love,” he said.

After Mr Kenyon’s family were informed of the Church’s decision, they moved the funeral service of St Michael and All Angels in Wentnor, near the Bishops’ Castle, to a marquee in the nearby vicarage so that Mrs Tutu van Furth can officiate and preach.

“It’s incredibly sad,” Ms Tutu van Furth told BBC News. “It looks like a bureaucratic response with perhaps a lack of compassion.

“It seemed really rude and hurtful. But as sad as that was, there was the joy of having a celebration of someone who could open the door to sometimes excluded people.

Martin Kenyon became an internet sensation in December 2020 when he appeared in a CNN interview after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

He told the puzzled American reporter that he hoped he didn’t have the “bug” now because he had granddaughters, adding “there’s no point in dying when I’ve lived this long, ain’t- not it?”

Mr Kenyon was a close friend of the late South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Ms Tutu van Furth was forced to give up her right to officiate as a priest in South Africa after marrying Marceline van Furth, a Dutch scholar, in 2015.

His father Desmond Tutu, who died in December 2021, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his fight against apartheid in South Africa. He also campaigned for gay rights and supported same-sex marriage.

“I would refuse to go to a homophobic paradise. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place,” he said in 2013. “I wouldn’t worship a homophobic God and that’s what I feel deeply at this subject.

He added: “I am as passionate about this campaign as I have ever been about apartheid. For me, it’s on the same level.

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