Tutu: ‘Ashamed’ to Be an Anglican

Daniel Burke
Religion News Service

Sept. 27 – Anglican icon and Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu says in a new book that his church’s rejection of gay priests in 1998 made him “ashamed to be an Anglican.”

That comment, as well as others critical of the worldwide Anglican Communion’s bickering over the role of gays and lesbians in the church, are related in a new biography of the South African prelate, called “Rabble-Rouser For Peace,” written by his former press secretary, John Allen. The biography is scheduled to be released close to Tutu’s 75th birthday in early October.

In the book, Tutu is candid about his gradual acknowledgment “that sexual orientation, like race or gender, was a given,” Allen writes.

Because he had retired as archbishop of Cape Town in 1996, Tutu held his tongue publicly after Anglican prelates rejected “homosexual practice” as “incompatible with Scripture,” in 1998. However, in a letter to the spiritual head of Anglicanism, former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, Tutu wrote “I am ashamed to be an Anglican,” according to Allen.

Moreover, the uproar created by the 2003 election of openly gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson in New Hampshire filled Tutu with “sadness,” Allen writes.

That controversy now threatens to tear apart the Anglican Communion, which consists of 38 individual geographic provinces.

“He found it little short of outrageous that church leaders should be obsessed with issues of sexuality in the face of the challenges of AIDS and global poverty,” Allen writes.

Tutu also thinks that current archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, “was too accommodating of conservatives who demanded that the churches of the United States and Canada should recant their tolerance for gays and lesbians,” or be kicked out of the Anglican Communion, according to Allen.

Tutu tells Allen that conservatives “have the freedom to leave,” if they don’t like the inclusiveness of the Anglican Communion.

Tutu, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign to overcome apartheid in his native South Africa, has become one of the world’s most famous Anglicans. Though retired, Tutu continues to lecture and speak throughout the world.