Church of England Stops Desmond Tutu’s Daughter From Officiating Funeral

Rev. Mpho Tutu van Furth, an Episcopal priest who is married to a woman, said the funeral of her godfather was moved to his garden to allow her to participate.

Rev. Mpho Tutu van Furth, right, with her wife, Marceline Tutu van Furth, in Cape Town in 2016.

By Isabella Kwai

The daughter of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu had wanted to honor her godfather’s personal wish: that she officiate his funeral in England after he died last week.

But the Church of England stopped the Rev. Mpho Tutu van Furth, a priest ordained in the United States, from doing so this week because she is married to a woman, she said.

“I’m stunned by the lack of compassion,” said Ms. Tutu van Furth in a phone interview from Shropshire, in central England, on Friday, calling the decision to bar her from officiating at the funeral of her godfather, Martin Kenyon, 92, unkind. “You can’t speak a message of welcome and love and live a message of exclusion,” she said, of the church’s teaching.

Mr. Kenyon was a longtime friend of Archbishop Tutu, a powerful force in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and an early, outspoken critic of the Anglican Communion’s stance on gay rights. The archbishop was also a godfather to Mr. Kenyon’s daughter.

The incident has put a spotlight on the longtime divide within the global Anglican Communion over whether to accept same-sex marriages and ordain openly gay priests and bishops. The Church of England and the Episcopal Church are tied together in the global Anglican Communion, which represents about 85 million worshipers around the world.

But the communion has been slowly fracturing for years as it has debated policies toward clergy and worshipers in same-sex relationships and marriages. The Episcopal Church has taken a stance in favor of acceptance of gay clergy and members, starting with the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson, an openly gay priest, in New Hampshire in 2003.

The Church of England, however, has said that under its religious laws, while it permits same-sex civil partnerships, it does not support same-sex marriage because it would go against its teachings. Gay clergy are expected to remain celibate, and those in same-sex marriages are not permitted to be ordained.

Rights campaigners and some religious leaders have condemned the incident and the church’s policies as homophobic, discriminatory and at odds with the religion’s message.

Ms. Tutu van Furth said that she was informed by local representatives of the church that while she could sit in the congregation during the ceremony, she would not be permitted to deliver the eulogy, say prayers or perform readings at the funeral. She said she understood why local officials had conveyed the message, but said the way church authorities had handled it was “not right.”

Ms. Tutu van Furth at an event in South Africa in 2013.
Ms. Tutu van Furth at an event in South Africa in 2013.

The local diocese of Hereford, in which the funeral was held, acknowledged it was “a difficult situation,” adding that they had followed advice given in line with published guidance from the church’s senior leadership — which said that getting married to someone of the same sex was not “appropriate contact” and would “clearly be at variance with the teaching of the Church of England.”

“The Church of England believes that all people are made in the image of God and must be cherished for who they are,” a spokesman for the church said in a statement. The church was in the process of “learning and listening about questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage,” the statement said, which had caused “deep and painful divisions.”

Bishops are expected to formally publish recommendations on a way forward on L.G.B.T.Q. policy among other topics in February, when the General Synod, the national assembly of the Church of England, will meet.

“There are people of every age who need the church in the times of hardship and pain and loss,” Ms. Tutu van Furth said, adding that the decision had also upset the family of Mr. Kenyon. “This is supposed to be the place for people to go who have nowhere else to go.”

To honor his wishes and allow her involvement, Ms. Tutu van Furth said that the funeral — which she described as prayerful and joyful — was ultimately held on Thursday not in a church but in the garden of Mr. Kenyon’s home in Shropshire.

Mr. Kenyon and Archbishop Desmond Tutu grew close while the two lived in London in the 1960s as Archbishop Tutu studied theology in King’s College. (Mr. Kenyon also gained a bit of fame for his responses to being one of the first people in Britain to receive a Covid vaccine in 2020, telling The New York Times he was looking forward to being embraced by his grandchildren.) The archbishop was a supporter of gay rights, telling the BBC in 2007: “If God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn’t worship that God.”

Martin Kenyon, who was godfather to Ms. Tutu van Furth, outside the London hospital where he received the Covid-19 vaccine in December 2020. He was among the first in Britain to get the shot.
Martin Kenyon, who was godfather to Ms. Tutu van Furth, outside the London hospital where he received the Covid-19 vaccine in December 2020. He was among the first in Britain to get the shot.

Ms. Tutu van Furth has spoken previously about her painful experiences with the church after she married Marceline van Furth, a Dutch academic specializing in global children’s health. That forced her to hand back her license to officiate as a priest in the Anglican Communion’s province in Southern Africa, a decision, she said at the time, that felt like it “stripped away” a part of her. Based in the Netherlands, Ms. Tutu van Furth now preaches at a church in Amsterdam.

For Jayne Ozanne, an advocate for gay rights in the church and a member of the Church of England’s General Synod, its legislative body, the reverend’s experience reaffirmed that the Church of England was “institutionally homophobic.”

“It’s a cruel, crass and hypocritical decision,” she said, adding that church leaders had kept silent for too long on L.G.B.T.Q. rights.

“We are investing millions in mission and evangelism without getting the core basics right of a church who serves all and shows the unconditional love” of God for England, she added.

Complete Article HERE!

For Inuit delegates in France, facing alleged abuser together helped heal a deep wound

After an emotional few days in France, Steve Mapsalak speaks to reporters about his experience meeting with Johannes Rivoire.

By April Hudson

When Steve Mapsalak left the meeting with his alleged abuser on Wednesday, he felt a weight lift from inside him.

Mapsalak, one of the Inuit delegates from Nunavut who went to France this week to press for the extradition of retired priest Johannes Rivoire, said Thursday the short-notice meeting with Rivoire brought memories flooding back to him.

It also gave him an opportunity to tell Rivoire face-to-face about the pain he and other delegates have gone through.

“It is still painful to have the memory when I see the building, the room [where the abuse happened]. And yet, when I was able to speak to him and share how deeply he had hurt us, I could feel that inside, the deep hurt I have carried for so long, some of it is lifted,” Mapsalak said in Inuktitut Thursday.

Aluki Kotierk, the president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., translated Mapsalak’s words into English for a crowd of reporters.

“I will be returning to Canada, my community, a little bit lighter, to be back with my children,” Mapsalak said.

He said he still feels Rivoire needs to be returned to Canada to face trial.

Steve Mapsalak, left, Tanya Tungilik and Jesse Tungilik spoke to reporters in Lyon, France, on Thursday about their meeting with Johannes Rivoire.

Tanya Tungilik, whose father Marius Tungilik had accused Rivoire of sexual abuse, said it was “liberating” to finally tell Rivoire the things she has wanted to say for so long.

She left the room as soon as she finished speaking to him, and wept. With those tears, weight lifted from her as well, she said.

“Just the relief, and the anger and everything — I let it all out. Cried my hardest,” she said. “Saying what I needed to say to him meant everything to me.”

Nunavut Tunngavik — the group that sent the delegation to France — has said it has a plane ticket to Canada ready for Rivoire if he chooses to return voluntarily. Rivoire has repeatedly said he has no intention of coming back to Canada and that he denies the charges of abusing Inuit children in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Provincial House of the Oblates in Lyon, France.

Delegates met with Rivoire and other members of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate on Wednesday in Lyon, France.

“Personally, I felt a great burden going into the room with Rivoire, wanting to articulate in a clear and persuasive manner how much it would mean for all of us if he would just get on the plane,” said Kotierk.

“I did share with him that we have an airplane ticket for him to get on the plane on Friday with us and that we deserve the truth and he needs to face justice.”

While France’s Justice Ministry said Wednesday it was ready to respond to any request from Canada for “mutual legal assistance” in regard to Rivoire, Canada’s justice department has yet to hear from France.

Canada’s Justice Minister David Lametti said Thursday the Department of Justice “has not received any formal response from the French government.”

Canada has made a request to France to extradite Rivoire on charges of sexual abuse, though France has said it has a longstanding “constitutional tradition” of not extraditing nationals.

Complete Article HERE!

German Bishops Fail To Pass Document Radically Altering Church Teaching On Sex

By John Rigolizzo

Liberal Catholic bishops in Germany failed to approve a document changing the Church’s teachings on sex and sexuality.

The 30-page document, entitled “Life in succeeding relationships – The principles of renewed sexual ethics,” was brought to a vote at a meeting of the German Bishops’ Conference’s “Synodal Way” in Frankfurt Thursday. The resolution to approve needed a two-thirds majority to be adopted, but it did not meet that threshold. The document would have radically reformed the Church’s teachings around same-sex relationships, gender identity, and masturbation, among others.

“We are convinced that it will not be possible to re-orientate pastoral care without re-defining the emphasis of the Church’s sexual teaching to a significant degree,” the preamble to the document stated. “This is why we are suggesting such a major re-emphasis, as we consider it urgently necessary to overcome some of the restrictions in questions of sexuality, for reasons of sexual science as well as theology. In particular, the teaching that sexual intercourse is only ethically legitimate in the context of a lawful marriage, and only with a permanent openness to the transmission of life, has caused a wide rift to open up between the Magisterium and the faithful. This threatens to completely obscure other important aspects of God’s Good News which could have a liberating effect on shaping dignified sexuality.”

A total of 33 bishops voted to approve the document; 21 voted against it. Three bishops abstained from voting, The Pillar reported.

The leaders of the conference expressed outrage at the result. Delegates took the floor for two hours after the vote concluded, blasting those who voted to disapprove, and claiming that the move would foment division in the Church.

Bishop Georg Bätzing, the president of the bishops’ conference, threatened to take the document to Pope Francis’ worldwide bishops’ synod in 2023, despite failing to approve it. “We will take it to the level of the universal church when we are in Rome in November for the ad limina visit when we go about preparing the World Synod with the continental bishops’ conferences in January,” he said, via Fox News.

The first reform the German bishops pushed was for the Church to honor all forms of personal sexual identity, including gender identity. The German bishops’ document also affirms non-binary and so-called “intersex” identities: “[b]iological gender cannot be clearly determined in binary terms in some cases,” the document states, noting that intersex people have physical and chromosomal variance, while transgender people have a difference of “gender perception” from their biological sex. “As a Church, we must respect the individual self-perception of the sexual identity of any person as an inviolable part of their uniqueness as made in God’s image,” the document says.

The document went on to call for a radical reform of the teaching on homosexuality. Church doctrine declares homosexual acts as a mortal sin that completely separates the individual from God. The document called on the Church to reject that. “Same-sex sexuality – also expressed in sexual acts – is therefore not a sin that causes separation from God, and it is not to be judged as intrinsically bad,” the document declared.

The document would also have radically altered Church teachings on masturbation, which is also a mortal sin under Church doctrine. “Experiencing one’s own body through self-stimulation in a pleasurable way can be an important building block of self-acceptance for everyone,” the document declares instead.

Complete Article HERE!

‘Sexism Is a Cardinal Sin’ Catholic Women Tell Vatican

Catholic women with parasols expressing the call for women’s ordination in the church at the Vatican, Aug. 29, 2022.

By Mitchell Atencio

On Monday, leaders of two Catholic groups dedicated to women’s ordination in the church reminded Catholic cardinals not to ignore their “sisters outside,” as the cardinals met to discuss church reforms.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis named two women to a dicastery, or papal committee, that selects new bishops in the church. However, Monday’s closed-door gathering of cardinals excluded women.

While cardinals met inside, a small group of women from the U.S.-based Women’s Ordination Conference and Women’s Ordination Worldwide stood at an entrance with bright red umbrellas bearing messages that included “ordain women” and “more than half the church.” They spoke with entering cardinals and handed them a letter explaining their efforts for recognition. Within 10 minutes, police detained the group, holding them for about four hours. Officially, the group was held on grounds of protesting without a permit.

Kate McElwee, the executive director of the Women’s Ordination Conference and one of the women at the protest, spoke with Sojourners’ Mitchell Atencio hours after being released. She discussed her hope for women’s ordination, Francis’ attitude toward reforms, and the symbolic nature of their activism.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Mitchell Atencio, Sojourners: What were the cardinals meeting to discuss?

Kate McElwee: Pope Francis called a consistory and on Saturday, he created 20 new cardinals and [on Monday and Tuesday] he’s calling the world’s cardinals together for meetings. There are 197 prelates [church officials] who are in Rome particularly to discuss the reforms of the new apostolic constitution that was promulgated on Pentecost.

One of the significant reforms of that constitution is that he has opened the possibility for women, or any layperson, to lead dicasteries in the Vatican — this is a role that traditionally had been reserved for bishops and cardinals, so this is a significant move.

I’ve heard the intention [for these meetings is] to have the cardinals meet one another, practice and model synodality, and then get to know the constitutional reforms. But, of course, there are no women in this meeting.

We wanted to witness and just draw attention to the fact that this is a closed-door session where no women are present, ironically, when one of the biggest changes of the constitution is that women can now lead dicasteries

And how did your action go? You and your colleagues were detained for about four hours, what were interactions with police like, why did they say they detained you?

We had a prayer and an intention that our voices would carry through these closed-door sessions and provoke the conscience of the prelates meeting to know that their sisters are waiting outside. We opened bright red parasols with our messages written on them; everything from “reform means women,” “it’s reigning men,” “sexism is a cardinal sin,” and other messages. We processed down Via della Conciliazione till we reached the gates of the piazza, and then continued on to the dicastery for the doctrine of faith, where it’s a major entry point for the Vatican and we thought we could greet cardinals as they entered in.

We had a letter that said, “don’t forget your sisters outside,” but we greeted them very respectfully and were able to interact with a handful of cardinals who were going into their meetings. Some were more supportive than others. But in about 10 minutes various levels police came towards us and asked us to close our umbrellas and provide our identification documents. We complied after a short time, and they penned us into a small [space] between the colonnades. We were there for an hour, and their main complaint was that we didn’t have a permit — I lived in Rome for eight years, it’s very hard to get a permit for women’s ordination next to the Vatican. After an hour they escorted us to the closest police station where we were held for another three hours or so. It was a lot of waiting for them to process us for protesting without a permit, particularly at the Vatican. It was very, very Italian experience. We stopped for coffee before they brought us to the police station. I think they didn’t believe we were dangerous, but it was a matter of bureaucracy and formalities for them.

Why is women’s ordination important in the Catholic church?

It is a matter of justice for most Catholic women. Our calls are not heard. Many women feel like they have no voice or vote in the Catholic church. And there’s layers and layers of sexism that marginalize women from important leadership positions, both ministerial and administrative.

And like me, for so many Catholic women, this is our home. This is our identity and our tradition, and through the sacraments is how we navigate the world. To be considered second tier, or to not have our voices heard, is deeply painful. And we see the effects of this exclusion throughout the world.

One of the most important things about our work is to recognize that women’s ordination isn’t just about women priests. The Catholic church has 1.36 billion members. More than half of those people are women, and they have no representation within the church. That kind of exclusion and subordination is replicated through culture, education, and all the ways the Catholic church has power in the world — including having a seat at the United Nations and working to subvert policies on gender equality.

There’s also a deep pain. In my work, I get to hear the stories and the testimonies of women called to priesthood. You hear their vocational stories and they’re not dissimilar to male priests in any way.

I’m a very hopeful person. I believe that the church can actually be this incredible force for good and justice in the world, if it opened its doors to women.

How would you describe Pope Francis’ relationship to the movement for women’s ordination?

I think Pope Francis has done quite a bit to encourage greater dialogue around the question of women in the church, particularly through his Synod on Synodality and engaging all Catholics, to be involved in this collective discernment. In the United States [this] has inspired a lot of these diocese and synod reports to include mentions of the urgent calls for women’s ordination and women in ministry. In that sense, he’s really changed the culture. Because women’s ordination to the priesthood is a taboo in a lot of ways. And through synodality and dialogue that we’re engaging in together, he has opened up that conversation in bigger ways.

Unfortunately, when it comes to women’s ordination, specifically throughout his pontificate, he has repeated the logic and thinking of his predecessors. Although he has convened two commissions on women deacons, [and] that is still an evolving question in the Catholic church, on priesthood I think Francis hasn’t moved much, [even though] he has encouraged greater dialogue and called for greater inclusion of women in the life of the church.

What gives you hope that this is possible?

When I think about Pope Francis, he is a man who has changed his mind. He is leading the global church in collective discernment, which is so messy, but it means this is all in play, this is all in conversation. There’s a great opening for the church leaders to really listen to Catholics on the ground. The majority of Catholics are calling for women’s ordination and greater leadership roles in the church. That gives me a lot of hope.

As part of the synod on synodality, the Vatican’s Synod office listed the Women’s Ordination Conference’s resources on their official website, which, would be unthinkable in a different pontificate. That means that this is part of the conversation, the elephant in the room is on the table up for discussion. As long as we’re still talking about this — and we are because this question has not gone away in so many decades — that there’s still hope.

We’ve seen Pope Francis really model what a pastor is. I believe Francis is a quite a pastoral person. So part of my work is to create opportunities where he can hear the testimonies and vocations of women. He formalized the ministry of catechists recently and has opened the role of acolyte and lector to women, and that language really identifies discerning a vocation. When I read that language, I think that’s the same spirit that calls women to ordained ministry. I just hope that he’s open to hearing the calls of women to ordination. Unfortunately, when you’re surrounded by the architecture of the Vatican, interaction with women — particularly if you call these meetings of only men — can be quite limited.

What has it meant to you to do this work internationally and across cultures?

It’s absolutely essential. When you get to meet women in different cultures and listen to the language that they use to describe their longing for leadership and ministerial roles, there are nuances, but women around the world are just longing for equality for their voices to be heard.

The particularities of circumstances make priorities different, but at the core it’s that women are longing to be equal and to be embraced in by their own church. It’s very powerful to work alongside international women and leaders who are coming with their own context and their own stories. This can’t come from one place. This is a universal church. It’s part of that discernment that Francis is trying to model and lead us through. Listening to the voices and the context of all of women in different places is really important to what we do.

Complete Article HERE!

Irish protester among seven held after demonstration at Vatican calling for women’s inclusion in Church

Pope Francis convened a closed-door gathering of the Catholic Church’s cardinals.

By Sarah Mac Donald

Seven protesters, including one Irish woman, were detained by police in Rome over their protest at the Vatican calling for women’s inclusion at all levels of the Catholic Church.

iriam Duignan joined six other women in St Peter’s Square yesterday to draw attention to the lack of any female presence at a consistory – a closed-door gathering of the church’s cardinals – convened by Pope Francis.

The seven held up parasols with messages such as “ordain women” and “sexism is a cardinal sin” as the world’s cardinals filed in for the first of their two-day extraordinary meeting.

Ms Duignan, a spokesperson for the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research in the UK, said she hoped the protest would stir the collective conscience of church leadership to open its doors to women who long to be heard and to serve their church as equals in Christ.

“I chose to be present at the consistory as a member of Women’s Ordination Worldwide to help shine a light on the Vatican’s cover-up of the history of women’s founding role and leadership in the early centuries of the church,” said Ms Duignan.

The London-based advocate for women’s ordination told the Irish Independent that expert theologians, including some in the Vatican, have concluded “there is no scriptural justification for the banishing of women; it is a choice and it can and must be changed”.

She added: “The Roman police were encouraged to remove us from view and to hide our words and witness from the world.”

Though they greeted numerous cardinals as the prelates passed inside the Vatican’s gates, most of the high ranking clerics “clearly did not want to engage or dwell on the messages on our red parasols”.

“The Vatican is desperately afraid of campaigners drawing attention to their discrimination against women and so choose to intimidate anyone who dares to publicly challenge them,” Ms Duignan said.

According to Ms Duignan, the small group of protesters was quickly moved out of sight by a “huge police presence” of 20 officers.

However, one Italian prelate congratulated Ms Duignan when he learned the protest was for women’s inclusion and ordination.

Referring to the call in many recent synod reports for women’s equal participation at all levels in the church, including ordination, Ms Duignan said: “People see that such an influential institution cannot be allowed to function with an all-male leadership that bans women from having a say in any of its policies or teachings.”

Asked about the collapse in priest numbers in the Irish Church, she said: “It is glaringly obvious that to deny women the opportunity to fill this role, despite a desperate shortage of priests, is an injustice to all Catholics.”

The seven women were released from police custody after four hours. They may face charges and a court hearing.

Their parasols were confiscated as evidence.

The Vatican and police in Rome have been contacted for comment.

Complete Article HERE!