Same-sex mar­riage: more ruc­tions in Angli­can church


THE FURORE over the Angli­can church’s de­ci­sion to re­ject same-sex mar­riage looks likely to in­ten­sify, with its Pre­to­ria re­gion the lat­est to voice its un­hap­pi­ness with the de­ci­sion.

The mat­ter was the cause of heated de­bate among del­e­gates dur­ing the three-day con­fer­ence that be­gan on Thurs­day. Pre­to­ria re­gion is among the big­gest re­gions in South Africa.

Cur­rent po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic crises in the coun­try, in­clud­ing state cap­ture and cor­rup­tion, as well as so­cial prob­lems, were also raised at the con­fer­ence.

The dis­sent by Pre­to­ria comes al­most a year af­ter the Angli­can Church of South­ern Africa de­cided that it would not al­low bish­ops to “pro­vide prayers of bless­ing to be of­fered for those in same-sex civil unions”. Fol­low­ing that res­o­lu­tion dur­ing a de­bate in Ekurhu­leni, Angli­can Arch­bishop of Cape Town Thabo Mak­goba ex­pressed his dis­ap­point­ment at the move, say­ing he was “deeply pained by the out­come of the de­bate”.

“I was glad I wear glasses or the synod would have seen tears. I wanted to be any­where but in the synod hall – I wished I was qui­etly home in Ma­goe­baskloof,” he said at the time.

On Thurs­day, the pres­i­dent of the Pre­to­ria synod, Bishop Alan Kan­nemeyer, in his open­ing ad­dress of the con­fer­ence, ap­peared to set the tone when he said that “we will deal with this un­com­fort­able sub­ject un­til we are at peace with it”.

How­ever, in the dis­cus­sions del­e­gates did agree that no one had the right to dic­tate to another re­gard­ing their sex­u­al­ity.

“We live in an era where young peo­ple de­cide on their own path, let us be sen­si­tive so we do not drive them away,” said one par­tic­i­pant.

The Pre­to­ria re­gion joins the Angli­can dio­cese of Sal­danha Bay, which last year also declared that it would not abide by its par­ent body’s de­ci­sion.

Last May, Arch­bishop Emer­i­tus Des­mond Tutu’s daugh­ter Mpho re­vealed that her li­cence to preach in the church had been re­voked be­cause she mar- ried a woman. She had de­cided to quit the church rather than force the bishop of the dio­cese of Sal­danha Bay, Bishop Raphael Hess, to re­voke her li­cence.

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

The is­sue of same sex unions has split the church across the globe.

Another con­gre­gant in Pre- to­ria likened this burn­ing is­sue to that of cre­ma­tion among black fam­i­lies. He said that he was al­most dis­owned when he told his fam­ily it was what he wanted, but like ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity “it is not what I’m ask­ing you to do with your body, your life, but the choice I feel is right for mine”.

It was also pointed out that the LGBTIQ+ ( Les­bian, Gay, Bi­sex­ual, Trans­gen­der and In­ter­sex) com­mu­nity was held in high es­teem in the church and that dis­crim­i­na­tion had to be stamped out.

Speak­ing on the de­ci­sion Fa­ther Vernon Venter of the Angli­can Church in Pre­to­ria re­gion said that the church had de­cided along time ago that the LGBTIQ+ is part of the church com­mu­nity.

“The church at this point is not of one mind. The ques­tion that was posed seeks to sup­port Arch­bishop Mak­goba’s call of set­ting up a com­mi­sion on hu­man sex­u­al­ity. So, we have gone over the (res­o­lu­tion by the) head of the Pro­vin­cial Se­nate. We are not un­der­min­ing that. All we are say­ing is that we need to have di­a­logue and find ways deal with this is­sue. It’s part of an on­go­ing di­a­logue and lis­ten­ing process to hear the voices.”

Mpho Tutu

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