A Tutu co­nun­drum

CityPress - - Front Page - AN­DISIWE MAK­I­NANA an­disiwe.mak­i­nana@city­press.co.za

The low-key but pub­lic gay wed­ding of Angli­can Arch­bishop Emer­i­tus Des­mond Tutu’s daugh­ter, her­self a rev­erend canon, has cre­ated a co­nun­drum for the church. Church sources said Arch­bishop Tutu had not given his pub­lic bless­ing for his daugh­ter’s wed­ding to avoid any im­pres­sion of forc­ing the hand of the church, where dis­cus­sions on the same-sex mar­riages of both priests and con­gre­gants have been on­go­ing.

City Press has re­li­ably learnt that nei­ther Arch­bishop Tutu nor his wife, Leah, at­tended their daugh­ter’s wed­ding in the Nether­lands last month.

The low-key but pub­lic gay wed­ding of Angli­can Arch­bishop Emer­i­tus Des­mond Tutu’s daugh­ter, her­self a rev­erend canon, has cre­ated a co­nun­drum for the church. Church sources said Arch­bishop Tutu had not given his pub­lic bless­ing for his daugh­ter’s wed­ding to avoid any im­pres­sion of forc­ing the hand of the church, where dis­cus­sions on the same-sex mar­riages of both priests and con­gre­gants have been on­go­ing.

City Press has re­li­ably learnt that nei­ther Arch­bishop Tutu nor his wife, Leah, at­tended their daugh­ter’s wed­ding in the Nether­lands last month.

Tutu’s part­ner, Pro­fes­sor Marce­line van Furth, is the Des­mond Tutu chair at Vrije Univer­sity in the Nether­lands, which has been work­ing with the Des­mond and Leah Tutu Le­gacy Foun­da­tion on spe­cial projects. She is be­lieved to have played a key role in se­cur­ing a €2 mil­lion (R36.62 mil­lion) do­na­tion to the foun­da­tion from a Dutch lot­tery two years ago.

Angli­can Arch­bishop Thabo Mak­goba de­clined to be in­ter­viewed. His of­fice said he was con­strained as to what he could dis­cuss pub­licly, as the is­sue was a pas­toral one in­volv­ing church mem­bers. A de­ci­sion is ex­pected to be taken to­wards the end of the year.

The Angli­can church is of­fi­cially op­posed to its priests en­ter­ing into same-sex mar­riages and in­sists that prac­tis­ing gay cler­ics re­main celi­bate. The church is now draft­ing pas­toral guide­lines for mem­bers en­ter­ing into same-sex mar­riages.

On Fri­day, Bri­tish news­pa­pers re­ported that a con­fer­ence of Angli­can arch­bish­ops, bish­ops and se­nior lead­ers from around the world voted to con­demn same-sex mar­riage. They also de­cided to bar the Angli­can Church in the US from global church ac­tiv­i­ties be­cause of its ac­com­mo­dat­ing stance on ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity.

The Daily Mail re­ported that the lead­ers, who met be­hind closed doors in the UK’s Can­ter­bury Cathe­dral, de­cided to ex­plic­itly con­demn same-sex mar­riage, say­ing mat­ri­mony should be be­tween “a man and a woman in faith­ful, long-life union”.

The Mail re­ported that, fol­low­ing the sus­pen­sion of the US chap­ter, a task force would be formed to rec­on­cile con­flict­ing views of sex­u­al­ity in the 85-mil­lion-strong fam­ily of churches.

The role of the clergy in same-sex mar­riages has been a bone of con­tention in South Africa’s broader re­li­gious fra­ter­nity. In Novem­ber 2015, the Con­sti­tu­tional Court de­clined to hear a dis­crim­i­na­tion case brought by Ec­cle­sia de Lange against the Methodist Church, on the grounds of her hav­ing no rea­son­able prospects of suc­cess. De Lange chal­lenged her dis­missal, meted out af­ter she told her con­gre­ga­tion in 2009 that she in­tended to marry her same-sex part­ner.

Arch­bishop Tutu has come out in pub­lic sup­port of gay mar­riage and pre­vi­ously said he would refuse to go to a “ho­mo­pho­bic heaven”. Those close to church af­fairs told City Press Mpho Tutu’s mar­riage had put the church in a tight spot.

“Mpho is a rev­erend canon and this has im­pli­ca­tions for the church. You have to be celi­bate or un­mar­ried to con­tinue be­ing a [gay] priest in the church. A ques­tion is her role in the church as a rev­erend canon. There is noth­ing in the church’s con­sti­tu­tion about whether you can marry,” said an in­sider.

This week Tutu told City Press she was or­dained in the Epis­co­pal Church in the US and was “canon­i­cally res­i­dent” in the Dio­cese of Wash­ing­ton, DC.

“In terms of the canon, I must have the ap­proval of my dioce­san bishop to marry, which I have,” she said.

“With re­gard to the Angli­can Church, I imag­ine it will re­solve its po­si­tion on these mat­ters in due course,” said Mpho Tutu, who added that she was per­son­ally not in­volved in the dis­cus­sions the Angli­can church was hav­ing about its priests in same-sex mar­riages.

She re­jected sug­ges­tions her mar­riage did not have her par­ents’ bless­ing, as they had never made pub­lic state­ments on any of their chil­dren’s mar­riages, “so this is not a con­cern to us”.

How­ever, she con­firmed her age­ing par­ents did not at­tend the cer­e­mony as they were try­ing to avoid over­seas travel. Tutu said her par­ents would at­tend an up­com­ing cel­e­bra­tion in Cape Town.

City Press un­der­stands this cel­e­bra­tion will be held in May at Bri­tish ty­coon Sir Richard Bran­son’s wine es­tate in Fran­schhoek.

In Septem­ber, the Angli­can church in South Africa is to fi­nalise and adopt pas­toral guide­lines for mem­bers who en­ter into same-sex civil unions.

This emerged in a blog Mak­goba wrote in re­sponse to an Amer­i­can Angli­can priest’s re­quest for com­ment on Tutu’s wed­ding and the South African Angli­can church’s po­si­tion.

Mak­goba wrote: “The is­sues you raise will be ad­dressed within our prov­ince at a time ap­pro­pri­ate to our pro­cesses, and we will com­mu­ni­cate any re­sponses we have to our peo­ple first.

“There is some­times a ten­dency among our fel­low Angli­cans in other prov­inces to use African Chris­tians as prox­ies in their own cul­ture wars, and I do not want to com­pound the prob­lem by ad­dress­ing the is­sues you raise in the first in­stance in the Bri­tish and Amer­i­can church me­dia.”

NEW­LY­WEDS

Arch­bishop Emer­i­tus Des­mond Tutu’s daugh­ter, Rev­erend Canon Mpho Tutu (left),

seen here with long­time part­ner and now spouse Pro­fes­sor Marce­line

van Furth

NEW­LY­WEDS Arch­bishop Emer­i­tus Des­mond Tutu’s daugh­ter, Rev­erend Canon Mpho Tutu (left), seen here with long­time part­ner and now wife Pro­fes­sor Marce­line van Furth on De­cem­ber 30

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