May 29, 2009

Tutu applauds Kirk’s decision on gay clergy

by David Masters

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has applauded the Church of Scotland’s decision to appoint an openly gay minister.

Speaking at the Kirk’s General Assembly in Edinburgh, the South African Archbishop affirmed all people as members of God’s family, whatever their race, class, or sexuality.

“I would find it impossible to stand by when people are being persecuted for something about which they can do nothing – their sexual orientation,” Tutu said

Earlier this week, the General Assembly voted to appoint Reverend Scott Rennie as minister of Queen’s Cross Church in Aberdeen, with a majority of 326-267.

Mr Rennie, who lives with his male partner, also has the backing of the majority of the Queen’s Cross congregation.

However, on Monday, the Kirk announced a two-year ban on the ordination of gay ministers, with a special commission appointed to think through the issue and report back in 2011.

Archbishop Tutu, who led the Anglican Church in South Africa during the struggle against apartheid, said it was ‘merciful’ that Scott Rennie’s appointment was endorsed by the Kirk despite the ongoing internal debate on gay clergy.

Tutu said: “For my part, I was involved in the struggle against a system that penalised people for something about which they could do nothing – their race – and I could not stand by when people were being penalised again for something about which they could do nothing – their gender.

“For quite a while our church did not ordain women to the priesthood. I joined the struggle and this is a non-issue in our church now.

“We haven’t yet consecrated a woman bishop but we’ve called our first woman Dean and any number of women are Archdeacons.”

He added that in the church family, there are “no outsiders.”

“We are all children of our heavenly father, the rich, the poor, the lame, the blind, the clever, the not-so-clever, the white, the black, the red, the yellow.

“The Palestinian, the Israeli, Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, George Bush.

“All are insiders – lesbian, gay, so-called straight – we are family.”

After his speech, Archbishop Tutu was awarded an honorary degree from Edinburgh University.

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