Church of England bans Desmond Tutu’s daughter from burial because of same-sex marriage


London
CNN

The Church of England has banned it Archbishop Desmond Tutu‘s daughter prevented from performing her godfather’s funeral because she is married to a woman.

Martin Kenyanwho died earlier this month at the age of 92, left explicit wishes for his goddaughter, the Reverend Mpho Tutu van Furth, an Anglican priest, to conduct his funeral.

But his family’s request for the ceremony to be held at his local church in Shropshire, England, was turned down by the Diocese of Hereford because the daughter of the Nobel Peace Prize winner lives in a same-sex marriage.

In an interview with CNN, Tutu van Furth said Kenyon’s daughters had planned for the funeral to be held at St Michael and All Angels Church in the village of Wentnor, where he lived.

“His home in Shropshire was next door and he was a member of that community for 30 years,” she said of her godfather.

Same-sex marriages were legalized in England and Wales in 2014, but the Church of England’s official position is against it and its ministers cannot perform or bless such ceremonies.

In a statement sent to CNN, the Diocese of Hereford, where the church is based, said: “We recognize this is a difficult situation. The advice was provided in accordance with the current House of Bishops guidance on same-sex marriage.”

Tutu van Furth was ordained in 2004 at the US Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia. The Episcopal Church, which like the Church of England is part of the Anglican Communion, allows its clergy to enter into same-sex marriages.

Tutu van Furth said she felt the time had come for the Church of England to move with the times, but added: “The church is moving at the pace the church is moving. I don’t know when there will be enough people left to grieve or when there will be enough people who have suffered enough pain for the community to change. But there will be a moment.”

Rather than entrust the funeral service to someone else, Kenyon’s family chose to hold it in a marquee in the garden of the vicarage next door.

“The children felt it was more important to fulfill their father’s wishes regarding his funeral, so we had a beautiful funeral service in a marquee in the garden,” Tutu van Furth told CNN.

Kenyon, who was interviewed by CNN back in December 2020 when he became one of the first people in the world to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, had been a close friend of Tutu van Furth’s late father.

Archbishop Tutu, ordained into the Anglican Church in 1960, spent the 1960s and 1970s alternating between his native South Africa and London. It was then that he met Kenyon for the first time.

Tutu van Furth told CNN: “My parents came to London in 1962. My father came before my mother and father and Martin became friends. Martin met my mother on the boat from South Africa and when I was born in 1963 my parents asked Martin to be my godfather.

“My mother said that Martin was the person most responsible for my parents ever feeling at home in Britain. His personal claim was that he fed me my first meal – a teaspoon of champagne!”

The decision to stop Tutu van Furth from holding the ceremony in the church was branded “homophobic” by her wife Marceline Tutu van Furth, a professor of pediatric infectious diseases in the Netherlands, where the couple lives.

in a (n Open Letter to God published on LinkedInShe described herself as an atheist who was “welcomed into this religious family very warmly.”

In the letter, she referenced a quote from her late father-in-law, who is known to have said so would not worship a homophobic godadding: “My request to you is: Please help the people of the Church of England, who are definitely homophobic, to clear their minds and allow any clergyman to marry any person they respect and love.”

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