Could Tutu's daughter return to ministry after Church same-sex vote?

Mpho Tutu-Van Furth has said she would like to return to ministry.Alex Baker Photography

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) is to debate a proposal allowing clergy in same-sex civil unions to minister in its parishes – and Archbishop Desmond Tutu's daughter Rev Mpho Tutu-Van Furth has said she would be glad to return to Anglican ministry if the Church's rules permitted her to do so.

Tutu-Van Furth resigned her licence to minister when she married her partner Marceline last year. However, next month ACSA is to debate a motion proposed by the Diocese of Saldanha Bay that would extend the role of LGBTI people in the Church.

Announcing the proposal, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town said: "This proposal affirms the assurance already given by our bishops that church members who identify as LGBTI are loved by God and share in full membership of our Church as baptised members of the Body of Christ.

"More controversially, the motion also proposes that clergy who identify as LGBTI and are in legal same-sex civil unions should be licensed to minister in our parishes.

"It also suggests that 'prayers of blessing' should be able to be offered for those in same-sex civil unions. However, it specifically rules out the possibility of marriage under church law.

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"It also accepts that any cleric unwilling to take part in providing pastoral care to people who identify as LGBTI shall not be obliged to do so."

If the proposal is passed it may not affect Tutu-Van Furth as she is married rather than in a civil partnership. However, she told the Independent Online: "If licensed [as a minister] I will be delighted to serve again."

She added she welcomed the open conversation the motion has invited.

"There are many people in South Africa who are challenged to choose between their God-given priestly vocation and their God-given love relationship. The choice is a torment that no one should ever have to endure."

She said of the Synod proposal: "This motion brings us closer to the end of the discrimination perpetrated by the church and the prejudice, stigma and violence it has engendered. It brings into the open a conversation that has been characterised by sly jokes, harmful rumour and innuendo. We can only change what we dare to address. My hope is that this conversation leads us to open conversations about human sexuality; an honest assessment of the harm the current stance has done to God's people; and a commitment to fight homophobia with the same energy with which we fought racism."

The issue of same-sex marriage has bitterly divided the Anglican Communion, with conservatives adamant that it is not possible to compromise on what they see as a question of faithfulness to Scripture.

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