The Church of England has reportedly banned the late Desmond Tutu’s daughter from presiding over her godfather’s funeral because she is married to a woman.
Mpho Tutu van Furth, who is an Anglican priest in the USA, has been asked to conduct the funeral of the late Martin Kenyon in Shropshire on Thursday.
In a statement obtained by the BBC, the Diocese of Hereford said: “The advice was given in line with the current guidance of the House of Bishops on same-sex marriage.”
Ms Tutu van Furth is said to have told the broadcaster that the decision “seemed really rude and harmful”, and the diocese described it as a “difficult situation”.
The Church of England does not allow same-sex marriage for its clergy, but the Episcopal Church in the US – of which Ms Tutu van Furth is a part – does.
In South Africa, her license to serve as a priest was revoked after she revealed her sexuality and married Dutch academic Marceline van Furth in 2015.
When the Kenyon family discovered that Mrs Tutu van Furth had been banned, they moved the service from St Michael and All Angels in Wentnor, south of Shrewsbury near the England-Wales border.
The funeral was moved to a tent in the neighboring parish parsonage so that the baptismal service could be performed by a baptized woman.
Ms Tutu van Furth told the BBC: “It’s incredibly sad. It seems to me like a bureaucratic response with perhaps a lack of compassion.
“It felt really rude and hurtful. But as sad as it was, there was joy in celebrating a person who could open doors for people who are sometimes excluded.”
Desmond Tutu, who died in December 2021, won the Nobel Peace Prize in the 1980s for his work against apartheid in South Africa.
He also advocated for gay rights and advocated same-sex marriage.
In 2013, he said: “I’d refuse to go to homophobic heaven. No, I’d say sorry, I mean, I’d much rather go somewhere else.
“I wouldn’t worship a god who is homophobic and that’s how deeply I feel about it… I’m as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid. It’s on the same level for me.”