TUTU QUITS CHURCH FOR HER LOVE

CityPress - - Front Page - BIÉNNE HUISMAN bi­enne.huisman@city­press.co.za

Rev­erend Canon Mpho Tutu-Van Furth has re­vealed that her li­cence to preach is be­ing re­voked be­cause she mar­ried a woman – so, she’s de­cided to quit in­stead. New­ly­weds Mpho and Marce­line Tutu-Van Furth are on hon­ey­moon on the In­dian Ocean is­land of Bali af­ter their wed­ding at a Fran­schhoek wine es­tate at­tended by Mpho’s par­ents, Leah and Arch­bishop Emer­i­tus Des­mond Tutu.

“Bali is quite mag­i­cal,” said Mpho in an email to City Press, adding that she had de­cided to “give up” her min­is­te­rial du­ties – her au­thor­ity to pre­side at Holy Com­mu­nion, and to of­fi­ci­ate at wed­dings, bap­tisms and fu­ner­als in South Africa.

“Be­cause the South African Angli­can Church does not recog­nise our mar­riage, I can no longer ex­er­cise my pri­estly min­istry in South Africa,” she said. “The bishop of the Dio­cese of Sal­danha Bay [Bishop Raphael Hess] was in­structed to re­voke my li­cence.

“I de­cided that I would give it to him rather than have him take it, a slightly more dig­ni­fied op­tion with the same ef­fect.”

While same-sex mar­riage was le­galised in South Africa in 2006, the South African Angli­can law on mar­riage states: “Holy mat­ri­mony is the life­long and ex­clu­sive union between one man and one woman.”

De­bate over same-sex mar­riage is di­vid­ing the Angli­can Church around the world and, in South Africa, Mpho and Marce­line’s high-pro­file union has brought the is­sue to a head. The cou­ple legally tied the knot in Marce­line’s home coun­try, the Nether­lands, in De­cem­ber. Soon af­ter, Cape Town’s Arch­bishop Thabo Mak­goba in­di­cated that pas­toral guide­lines for same-sex mar­riage would be re­con­sid­ered in Septem­ber.

Mak­goba could not be reached for com­ment this week. His

of­fice man­ager, Wendy Kel­der­man, said he was away on a re­treat.

Des­mond Tutu said this week that Mak­goba al­lowed him to give his daugh­ter and her bride a “fa­ther’s bless­ing”.

“Arch­bishop Thabo per­mit­ted me to give the cou­ple a fa­ther’s bless­ing, which we hoped would not be mis­con­strued as pre­empt­ing de­ci­sions of the Pro­vin­cial Synod, the church’s high­est leg­isla­tive struc­ture,” he said.

Mpho pointed out that de­spite their ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ences, iron­i­cally, it now is her and Marce­line’s same­ness that was caus­ing dis­tress.

“My wife and I meet across al­most ev­ery di­men­sion of dif­fer­ence. Some of our dif­fer­ences are ob­vi­ous; she is tall and white, I am black and ver­ti­cally chal­lenged. Some of our dif­fer­ences are not ap­par­ent at a glance; she is Dutch and an athe­ist, I am South African and a priest in the Epis­co­pal/Angli­can Church.

“Iron­i­cally, com­ing from a past where dif­fer­ence was the

in­stru­ment of di­vi­sion, it is our same­ness that is now the cause of dis­tress. My wife and I are both women,” she said.

Mpho said she and Marce­line had been con­fronted with gen­der stereo­types, and the one that irked her most was the “who’s the man in the re­la­tion­ship?” ques­tion. She also crit­i­cised skewed power re­la­tion­ships in house­holds and abu­sive men in South Africa.

“In the South African con­text, one could also ask: ‘Who gets to have mul­ti­ple sex­ual part­ners (in or out of wed­lock), and who gets to be drunk and vi­o­lently abu­sive to his part­ner with lit­tle fear of reli­gious sanc­tion and no cul­tural con­se­quence?’

“We have de­cided that we will both be the woman in the re­la­tion­ship. We meet as mu­tu­ally re­spect­ful equals who en­joy work­ing to­gether.

“Nei­ther of us stays home. Both of us en­joy cook­ing. We share re­spon­si­bil­ity for clean­ing and em­ploy do­mes­tic work­ers. Par­ent­ing our four chil­dren on two con­ti­nents is a joy and a chal­lenge. Our mar­riage is for our mu­tual joy and sup­port. We have de­cided to forgo the vi­o­lence and in­fi­delity.”

She added that she was still a priest in good stand­ing in the Epis­co­pal Church in the US, where same-sex mar­riage is recog­nised. Marce­line is a pro­fes­sor of pae­di­atric in­fec­tious dis­eases at the Vrije Univer­siteit med­i­cal cen­tre in Am­s­ter­dam, while Mpho has been re­in­stated as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Des­mond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foun­da­tion in Cape Town.

They have de­scribed their re­la­tion­ship as a “lap­top love af­fair”, say­ing the dis­tance had done noth­ing to quell their pas­sion.

TALK TO US

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PHOTO: LER­ATO MADUNA

NO SUR­REN­DER Rev­erend Canon Mpho Tutu van Furth and her wife Marce­line at their home in Mil­ner­ton, Cape Town

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