Mpho Tutu-Van Furth and Marceline van Furth
The daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Rev. Mpho Tutu-Van Furth, has resigned as an Anglican minister after threats to fire her over her lesbian marriage.
Tutu-Van Furth married her wife, Professor Marceline Van Furth, in The Netherlands in December. This was followed by a wedding in the Western Cape earlier this month.
She told City Press last week, while on honeymoon in Bali, that she will now no longer be allowed to officiate at weddings, baptisms and funerals in South Africa.
“Because the South African Anglican Church does not recognise our marriage, I can no longer exercise my priestly ministry in South Africa. The bishop of the Diocese of Saldanha Bay [Bishop Raphael Hess] was instructed to revoke my licence,” Tutu-Van Furth said.
“I decided that I would give it to him rather than have him take it, a slightly more dignified option with the same effect,” she explained.
In February, the Synod of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa confirmed that it had not changed its policy on same-sex unions.
The bishops stated that marriage is an “exclusive union partnership between one man and one woman” and thus a “partnership between two persons of the same sex cannot be regarded as a marriage…”
Despite this, Tutu-Van Furth’s father, Desmond Tutu, revealed that the Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, had allowed him to offer a “father’s blessing” at his daughter’s wedding.
The church will again review the issue of same-sex marriage in September.
Tutu-Van Furth said that she remains a priest in the US Episcopal Church, which allowed the affirmation of same-sex marriages in July 2015.
In February, she was suspended as Executive Director of the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation over concerns about a conflict of interest because her wife had been involved with the foundation’s affairs.
Van Furth, a Dutch academic, was reportedly a key figure in sourcing a multimillion rand grant for the organisation.
Last month, however, the Board of the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation reinstated Tutu-Van Furth to her position after an investigation, saying that it was “more than satisfied” with the foundation’s systems and that “no impropriety was alleged, suspected or discovered”.