Pretoria Anglicans add to debate on recognising same-sex unions

Bishop Alan Kannemeyer

Members of the Diocese of Pretoria have controversially called for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to consider blessing same-sex unions.

According to the Saturday Star, clergy from the Pretoria diocese spoke out against the church’s continued gay relationship ban at a three day synod last week.

The diocese is one of the largest in the country, with 29 parishes, 16 chapelries and 80 mission districts.

The head of the Pretoria region, Bishop Alan Kannemeyer, told the delegates in his opening speech on Thursday that “we will deal with this uncomfortable subject until we are at peace with it”.

The Pretoria diocese now joins the diocese of Saldanha Bay in apparent open disagreement with the Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s stance on same-sex relationships.

In October, church leaders voted to reject a proposal by the Saldanha Bay diocese to allow blessings for same-sex couples entering into civil unions.

The head of the church, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, who has been a supporter of the LGBTQ community, spoke of the “palpable pain” over the disappointing decision at the time.

Father Vernon Venter explained that the Pretoria diocese was not wanting to undermine the church but had backed Makgoba’s approach to embrace LGBTQ people more fully.

“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 commission on human sexuality,” said Venter.

“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 to deal with this issue. It’s part of an ongoing dialogue and listening process to hear the voices.”

In May 2016, Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s daughter, the Rev. Mpho Tutu-Van Furth, resigned as an Anglican minister in response to threats from the church to fire her over her marriage to a woman.

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa represents Anglicans in South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and the island of Saint Helena.

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