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UK News

MP labels CofE as 'actively homophobic' and 'cruel'

by Sophie Drew

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw has labelled the Church of England as "actively homophobic and cruel" after the denomination denied a request from the daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu to lead a funeral for her godparent. 

Mpho Tutu van Furth is in a same-sex marriage, meaning she was not allowed to officiate the funeral at St Michael and All Angels church in Wentnor, Shropshire. 

Instead, the service was held in a marquee next to the church.

The Exeter MP - a church-goer and son of an Anglican clergyman, as well as a member of the parliament's ecclesiastical committee - told The Guardian: "The C of E is a fantastic resource in every part of the country. I think there's great value in the servant church that's there for everybody, on big state occasions and on countless smaller community occasions and events.

"But the contract with the nation has to be that it is there for everybody. It's increasingly obvious that the C of E is not there for lesbian and gay people and not only that, but it is actively homophobic, cruel, hurtful and institutionally hostile."

He described the event in question as an "egregious example", but "cruelty" is consistent within the church and "destroys people's lives."

Responding to the criticisms regarding the treatment of Tutu van Furth, the Church of England said: "The Church of England believes that all people are made in the image of God and must be cherished for who they are. The Church is committed to doing all we can to make everyone feel as welcome and safe as possible.

"Since November 2020 the Church has been carrying out a process of learning and listening about questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage which, it is hoped, will help the bishops to discern a way forward for the Church on these vitally important questions.

The statement continued: "Although there are deep and painful divisions within the Church of England over questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage, the bishops hope that by listening prayerfully to this church-wide learning and engagement, a way forward for the Church of England will emerge in the coming year."

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