Who is Desmond Tutu's daughter Mpho Andrea? Priest was barred from church for same-sex marriage

'It was hard for me to give up my [priest’s] license, it felt incredibly sad,' Mpho Andrea shared in 2015


                            Who is Desmond Tutu's daughter Mpho Andrea? Priest was barred from church for same-sex marriage
Reverend Mpho Andrea Tutu and Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu in 2014 (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for Shared Interest)
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South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to ending the Apartheid, has tragically died at the age of 90 years. The news of his death was confirmed by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who noted that his demise marked, "another chapter of bereavement in our nation's farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans". A contemporary of Nelson Mandela, Tutu was one of the key protagonists to lead the movement against racial discrimination in his country from 1948 till 1991. 

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Mourning his tragic demise, President Ramaphosa added, "A man of extraordinary intellect, integrity and invincibility against the forces of apartheid, he was also tender and vulnerable in his compassion for those who had suffered oppression, injustice and violence under apartheid, and oppressed and downtrodden people around the world." Meanwhile, the world has poured in condolences towards Desmond Tutu's family, including his wife Nomalizo Leah Tutu and four children. Many reminisced their life-changing meeting with Tutu and his daughter Mpho Andrea Tutu, who is also a noted same-sex activist.

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Who is Mpho Andrea Tutu van Furth? 

Born in 1963, Mpho Andrea happened to be the youngest daughter of Desmond and Nomalizo Tutu. She followed in her father's footsteps to become a priest, alongside a noted author and activist. When Mpho was 31 years old, she witnessed the official end of the Apartheid in her country. 

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Though Mpho did not wish to be a priest initially, she later felt God's calling and wished to explore the profession to serve the people. In 2003, she became ordained as a deacon in Springfield, Massachusetts, before becoming an Episcopal priest. She also pursued a master's degree from the Episcopal divinity school in Massachusetts. In 2011, Andrea Tutu van Furth started serving as the Executive Director of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, the charitable organization founded by her. She was married to Joseph Burris previously and shares two children with him. 

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Despite opting for the path of peace, Mpho Andrea's life was not bereft of controversy, due to her sexual orientation. Andrea, who happens to be queer, married Dutch academician Marceline van Furth in 2015, with complete support from both her parents. In fact, she had shared about her family's open-minded outlook, saying, "I had the extreme good fortune of growing up in a household with parents who were very clear about their faith, and very clear about full inclusion of all people... regardless of gender and gender identity and regardless of sexual orientation."

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However, her marriage to a woman spurred the South African Anglican Church, which refused to allow her to continue working as a priest. In fact, Andrea was forced to give up her priest's license, something that was intensely painful for her. "It was hard for me to give up my [priest’s] license, it felt incredibly sad," she shared in 2016, adding, "My father campaigned for women’s ordination, and so every time I stand at the altar I know that this is part of his legacy. And it is painful, a very odd pain, to step down, to step back from exercising my priestly ministry.”

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Mpho Tutu has been awarded by the South African Women for Women organization, as well as the African Women of Empowerment Award and Abingdon Worship Annual Award.