Mpho Tutu-Van Furth and her wife, Marceline van Furth
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has announced that the Anglican Church of Southern Africa will soon discuss a proposal to be more accepting of gay and lesbian relationships.
Most controversially, the measure proposes that clergy who identify as LGBTI and are in legal same-sex civil unions should be licensed to minister in parishes.
The motion also “suggests that ‘prayers of blessing’ should be able to be offered for those in same-sex civil unions,” said Makgoba.
He added, however, that these unions would not be recognised as marriages, which, the church insists, are only possible between a man and a woman.
The proposal will not force any cleric to “to take part in providing pastoral care to people who identify as LGBTI” if they are opposed to doing so.
The Archbishop added: “Without anticipating what Synod will decide, this debate is overdue in the top councils of our Church, and I welcome it.”
In May, 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 lesbian marriage.
“Because the South African Anglican Church does not recognise our marriage, I can no longer exercise my priestly ministry in South Africa,” Tutu-Van Furth said at the time.
In an e-mail to News24, Tutu-Van Furth commented on Thursday that the latest proposal is a step forward.
“When I married my wife, prejudice slammed a door of opportunity in my face. With this proposal we are ‘rattling the hinges’,” she wrote.
The motion, tabled by the Diocese of Saldanha Bay, will be debated at the forthcoming Provincial Synod next month. The Anglican Church of Southern Africa represents Anglicans in South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and the island of Saint Helena.
Archbishop Makgoba, who heads up the province, has previously spoken out against discrimination and violence against the LGBT community.