Archbishop Desmond Tutu – prophet, priest, campaigner for justice – RIP 26 December 2021

Image credit: Dale Frost, Port of San Diego CCLicense2.0

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, hero of the South African anti apartheid movement, has died aged 90, after a life which has won admiration and appreciation from across the world. The Anglican Archbishop communicated a theology against apartheid and racism, winning supporters from religious and political traditions across the globe. In the 1960s, he studied theology at Kings College London, where there will be a memorial service .  He was General-Secretary of the South African Council of Churches 1978–1985; Bishop of Johannesburg: 1985–1986; Archbishop of Cape Town 1986–1994; Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission 1996–1998 and in his retirement, spoke in favour of LGBT rights and against Israeli policy regarding the Palestinians. He died aged 90, after suffering prostate cancer and ill health for many years, and leaves his widow Leah and four children.

Former US President Barack Obama: “Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a mentor, a friend, and a moral compass for me and so many others. A universal spirit, Archbishop Tutu was grounded in the struggle for liberation and justice in his own country, but also concerned with injustice everywhere”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, spoke of his vision, bravery, and his place as a pioneer and warrior for justice :  “The death of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu (always known as Arch) is news that we receive with profound sadness – but also with profound gratitude as we reflect upon his life…Archbishop Tutu was a prophet and priest, a man of words and action, one who embodied the hope and joy that were the foundations of his life. He was a man of extraordinary personal courage and bravery”.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown @GordonBrown: “So sad that one of the great leaders in the fight against apartheid Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has died. I am one of many who was privileged to count him as friend. His values will live on in the influence he has on the people he leaves behind”

Cyril Ramaphosa, President of President of the Republic of South Africa: “The passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa”.

Miqdaad Versi @miqdaad:  “Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the anti-apartheid veteran called South Africa’s moral conscience, famously said: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor” & applied this to today”.

@Andy_Coates   Parish Priest quoting Lord Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury: “I have a theory, which I started elaborating after I had met Archbishop Desmond Tutu a few times, thar there are two kinds of egotists in this world. There are egotists that are so in love with themselves that they have no room for anybody else. And there are egotists that are so in love with themselves that they make it possible for everybody else to be in love with themselves. They are at home in their skins. It doesn’t mean that they are arrogant or self-obsessed or think they are faultless. They have learned to sense some of the joy that God takes in them. And in that sense, Desmond Tutu manifestly loves being Desmond Tutu; there’s no doubt about that. But the effect of that is not to make me feel frozen or shrunk; it makes me feel that possibly, by God’s infinite grace, I could one day love being Rowan Williams in the way that Desmond loves being Desmond Tutu.

 Hannah Rich, @hannahmerich Senior researcher @TheosThinkTank, vice chair  @ChrLeft:
“When people say that the Bible and politics don’t mix, I ask them which Bible they are reading.’ – Desmond Tutu, RIP.

Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Josiah Idowu-Fearon, said: “The death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a huge loss to the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and to the whole of the Anglican Communion. He was a prophetic voice in the church and in the world”. 

Statement from the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell: ”One of the great and abiding images of the second half of the 20th century was Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela dancing in the courtroom at the end of the closing session of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Cape Town. Nelson Mandela asked his friend Desmond Tutu to chair the Commission. It was a bold and creative way of helping a nation divided brutally between black and white learn to live in glorious technicolour by facing up to the horrors of its past and by putting the Christian imperative for forgiveness alongside the need for truth as the only way of achieving reconciliation. And Desmond Tutu was asked to chair it because this incredibly joyful little disciple of Jesus Christ was one of the few people in South Africa other than Nelson Mandela himself, who could unite the nation and carry the trust of everyone. In this respect, he was a giant.”

His daughter Naomi Tutu @TutuNaomi “My dad is at rest. Thank you Tshezi for all you have been to our family and the world. Lala ngo xolo Desmond Mpilo Tutu.”


Sign up for our news bulletin