Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s lesbian daughter, has decided to quit the Anglican church after she received news that her license as a reverend will be withdrawn for marrying her lesbian lover.
Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu-Van Furth has revealed that her licence to preach is being revoked because she is married to a woman – so she has decided to quit instead, to save face.
Newlyweds Mpho and Marceline, 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.
Mpho added that she has also decided to “give up” her ministerial duties – which includes 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 [gay] 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.
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 pre-empting decisions of the Provincial Synod, the church’s highest legislative structure,” he 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?’
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.
“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 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, City-Press24.com reports