The daughter of the late Desmond Tutu has reportedly been banned from leading her godfather’s funeral by the Church of England because she is married to a woman.
Mpho Tutu van Furth, who is a practicing Anglican priest in the US, had been asked to officiate at the funeral of the late Martin Kenyon on Thursday in Shropshire.
In a statement to the BBC, the Diocese of Hereford said: “The advice was given in line with the bishops’ current guidance on same-sex marriage.”
Tutu van Furth reportedly told the broadcaster that the decision “seemed really clumsy and hurtful”, and the diocese described it as “a difficult situation”.
The Church of England does not allow same-sex marriage in its clergy, but The Episcopal Church in the United States – of which Tutu van Furth is a part – does.
She had her license to serve as a priest revoked in South Africa when she revealed her sexuality and married Marceline van Furth, a Dutch academic, in 2015.
When the Kenyon family discovered Tutu van Furth had been barred, they moved the service from St Michael and All Angels in Wentnor, just south of Shrewsbury near the England-Wales border.
The funeral was moved to a tent in a neighboring parsonage so that the goddaughter could officiate.
Tutu van Furth told the BBC: “It’s incredibly sad. It feels like a bureaucratic response with perhaps a lack of compassion.
“It seemed really clumsy and hurtful. But as sad as it was, there was the joy of celebrating someone who could open the door for people who are sometimes excluded.”
Desmond Tutu, who died in December 2021, won the Nobel Peace Prize in the 1980s for his work tackling apartheid in South Africa.
He also campaigned for gay rights and championed same-sex marriage.
In 2013 he said: “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I’d much rather go to the other place.
“I wouldn’t worship a God who is homophobic and that’s how deeply I feel about this… I’m as passionate about this campaign as I’ve ever been about apartheid. For me, it’s on the same level. “