The daughter-in-law of the late South African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu called the Church of England homophobic for not allowing her wife, who is a priest, to preside over the funeral of a family friend.
Marceline Tutu van Furth, who is married to Archbishop Tutu’s daughter, Mpho Andrea Tutu van Furth, said the church told them it accepts priests in same-sex relationships but not if they are married.
Speaking from the Netherlands where the couple lives, Marceline Tutu van Furth said she was upset by what she called the church’s blatant discrimination against her wife.
“She fell in love with me and then she had the courage to marry me and then she can’t be the person she is as a priest and that’s … I don’t understand that,” Marceline Tutu van Furth said.
She said the couple visited Martin Kenyon, the godfather of Mpho Andrea Tutu van Furth, in April for the last time, and he specifically asked Mpho to preside over his funeral.
Kenyon died in London last week at age 92.
However, Marceline Tutu van Furth said the Church of England is not allowing her wife to fulfill Kenyon’s request.
“She had to hand in her license and now this is the second time that I’m aware of, of course small things also happened, but that she can’t do something out of love for her godfather and for the family just because of the same-sex marriage and that’s something that upsets me,” Marceline Tutu van Furth said.
“The Tutu family has always been very welcoming to me,” she continued. “And Mpho [is] very polite and I thought now I’m going to make action. The Tutu family always have action and I thought, now it’s my turn.”
Branches of the Church of England are split on whether to accept same-sex marriage. The U.S. branch, known as the Episcopal Church, accepts it. But the Church as a whole does not, and this year the heads of the Anglican Church in Uganda, Rwanda and Nigeria boycotted a Church of England conference because the topic was on the agenda.
The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, who has been close to the Tutu family, was in transit Wednesday but said, “I’m right at the airport. I will reach out to Mpho and find the context, but as the Anglican Church, we remain divided on that particular matter.”
Marceline Tutu van Furth said her wife will address mourners in her godfather’s garden, but not at the church in England on Thursday.