Cape Town – Professor of paediatric infectious diseases, Dr Marceline Tutu van Furth, married to Mpho Tutu, the daughter of late Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, has written in an open letter addressing homophobia in the church.
In the letter addressed to God, Tutu van Furth on Wednesday said it was “time to speak up for my wife”, as she wrote that the Church of England would not allow her to be present as a priest during the funeral of her godfather, Martin Kenyon, because “Priests of the Church of England aren’t allowed to be in a same-sex marriage. However, they can be in a same-sex relationship and even live together.”
Tutu van Furth wrote:
This is the first time I am writing to you. I feel upset, and I want you to know why.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Marceline Tutu van Furth. I am a 62-year-old white woman, living in the Netherlands. I am a professor of paediatric infectious diseases. I have been married for 6,5 years to Mpho Tutu, yes, the daughter of the late Arch. You know them both very well.
When Mpho and I got married I felt a very warm welcome into this religious family. The fact that I am an atheist wasn’t an issue. The fact that I am woman was, maybe, unexpected, but was also immediately accepted.
However, our marriage did give some upheaval in the rest of the world, to put it mildly. Mpho had to hand in her licence as a priest in South Africa, and our dear friend Reverend Charlotte also got in trouble because she was present at the celebration of our wedding in South Africa.
As an atheist, I really didn’t understand what was going on, even after Mpho made various efforts to explain it to me. I did understand it was because of our same-sex marriage. It made me feel very uncomfortable.
Last week Mpho’s godfather, Martin Kenyon, died in London at the age of 92. Martin was the one who helped the Tutu family when they came to live in London in 1962. Mpho was born shortly after, in 1963. Martin and the Tutu family became close friends. So, it was not a surprise to me that Martin’s daughters asked Mpho to preside at Martin’s funeral (this week) in Shropshire. Of course, Mpho immediately said yes and started preparing the service together with his beloved daughters.
But what happened? Before we went to bed last night, Mpho told me, in a very calm voice, that the Church of England will not allow her to be present as a priest during the funeral of Martin. Because “Priests of the Church of England aren’t allowed to be in a same-sex marriage. However, they can be in a same-sex relationship and even live together.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. Our SAME-SEX MARRIAGE is again a reason to hurt people for no reason. Martin’s daughters, their spouse and partner, Martin’s grandchildren, friends, the Tutu family, and also my wife, Mpho, who are all mourning because of the death of their beloved Martin are being punished because Mpho fell in love with me and dared to marry me!
I feel it is my time to speak up for my wife. And because I like to think outside the box, I decided to take this unconventional route.
Dear God, my late stepfather had a famous quote: ‘I would not worship a homophobic God.’ A beautiful statement.
My request to you is: please help the people of the Church of England who definitely are homophobic to clear their minds and allow any clergy person to marry any person they respect and love.
*The article will be updated with the church's response