Pretoria - The furore over the Anglican church’s decision to reject same-sex marriage looks likely to intensify, with its Pretoria region the latest to voice its unhappiness with the decision.
The matter was an issue of heated debate among delegates during the three-day conference that began on Thursday. Pretoria region is among the biggest regions in South Africa.
Current political and economic crises in the country, including state capture and corruption, as well as social problems, were also raised at the conference.
The dissent by Pretoria comes almost a year after the Anglican Church of Southern Africa decided that it would not allow bishops to “provide prayers of blessing to be offered for those in same-sex civil unions”. Following that resolution during a debate in Ekurhuleni, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba expressed his disappointment at the move, saying he was “deeply pained by the outcome of the debate”.
“I was glad I wear glasses or the synod would have seen tears. I wanted to be anywhere but in the synod hall - I wished I was quietly home in Magoebaskloof,” he said at the time.
On Thursday, the president of the Pretoria synod, Bishop Alan Kannemeyer, in his opening address of the conference, appeared to set the tone when he said that “we will deal with this uncomfortable subject until we are at peace with it”.
However, in the discussions delegates did agree that no one had the right to dictate to another regarding their sexuality.
“We live in an era where young people decide on their own path, let us be sensitive so we do not drive them away,” said one participant.
The Pretoria region joins the Anglican diocese of Saldanha Bay, which last year also declared that it would not abide by its parent body’s decision.
Last May, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s daughter Mpho revealed that her licence to preach in the church had been revoked because she married a woman. She had decided to quit the church rather than force the bishop of the diocese of Saldanha Bay, Bishop Raphael Hess, to revoke her licence.
Same-sex marriage was legalised in South Africa in 2006. However, South African Anglican law on marriage states that: “Holy matrimony is the lifelong and exclusive union between one man and one woman.”
The issue of same sex unions has split the church across the globe.
Another congregant in Pretoria likened this burning issue to that of cremation among black families. He said that he was almost disowned when he told his family it was what he wanted, but like homosexuality “it is not what I’m asking you to do with your body, your life, but the choice I feel is right for mine".
It was also pointed out that the LGBTIQ+ ( Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) community was held in high esteem in the church and that discrimination had to be stamped out.
Speaking on the decision Father Vernon Venter of the Anglican Church in Pretoria region said that the church had decided along time ago that the LGBTIQ+ is part of the church community.
“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 commision on human sexuality. 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 deal with this issue. It’s part of an ongoing dialogue and listening process to hear the voices.”
The Saturday Star understands that there are moves to mobilise other regions to drum up support for Pretoria's stance on LGBTIQ+ marriages.