Mpho Andrea Tutu van Furth, the lesbian daughter of the late South African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has been barred from conducting her godfather’s funeral.
Martin Kenyon, who died last week at age 92, had specifically asked Mpho Andrea Tutu van Furth, an Anglican priest, to preside over his funeral when she and her wife visited him in April, Voice of America reports. The service was to be held Thursday in England. However, the Church of England has decreed that Mpho Andrea Tutu van Furth cannot conduct the service because she is in a same-sex marriage.
Her wife, Marceline Tutu van Furth, “said the church told them it accepts priests in same-sex relationships but not if they are married,” according to VOA.
Mpho Andrea Tutu van Furth was ordained in 2003. The Church of England is part of the global Anglican Communion, in which there are varying views on LGBTQ+ issues. The Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch, is supportive of same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ equality in general, other branches less so. Desmond Tutu, who died last year at 90, was a major LGBTQ+ ally and a leader in the fight against South Africa’s apartheid system of racial inequality, which ended in the 1990s. “I would not worship a God who is homophobic,” he once said.
Mpho Andrea Tutu van Furth and Marceline Tutu van Furth were married in 2015. The following year, Mpho was told she had to surrender her license to preach in a South African diocese. The two women now live in the Netherlands, where Mpho can carry out her duties as a priest.
The treatment by British clerics was distressing, Marceline told VOA. “She had to hand in her license, and now this is the second time that I’m aware of,” she said. “Of course, small things also happened, but that she can’t do something out of love for her godfather and for the family just because of the same-sex marriage, and that’s something that upsets me.”
Mpho was planning to speak at a gathering in her godfather’s garden Thursday, but not in the church, her wife said.