Tributes paid to ‘bringer of justice’ Desmond Tutu who has died aged 90

The Archbishop of Armagh has paid tribute to anti-apartheid campaigner Desmond Tutu following his death aged 90.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 26th December 2021, 11:25 am
Updated Sunday, 26th December 2021, 12:12 pm
Archbishop Desmond Tutu. PA image
Archbishop Desmond Tutu. PA image

Most Revd John McDowell praised Archbishop Tutu as a “bringer of justice” and said South Africa had lost “a cheerful son”.

Tutu, who helped end apartheid in South Africa, died in Cape Town on Boxing Day.

Piyushi Kotecha, chief executive of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, and chairman Niclas Kjellstrom-Matseke said in a statement that Tutu was “a living embodiment of faith in action”.

In a statement on the foundation’s website, they added he spoke “boldly against racism, injustice, corruption and oppression, not just in apartheid South Africa but wherever in the world he saw wrongdoing, especially when it impacted the most vulnerable and voiceless in society.”

According to the trust, he died peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Centre in Cape Town. A cause of death has not been given.

Rev McDowell said: “At a time when people have become wary of those who exercise political power in many places throughout the world, the death of Desmond Tutu, who exercised, instead, great moral authority as a disciple of Jesus Christ, comes with an intensified sense of loss.

“As a young man, he became painfully aware of the spiritual dimension of the abuse of political power and recognized the vocation of the Church in South Africa to work for racial and economic justice and for the dignity of all human life.

“He brought many gifts to embodying and fulfilling this vocation, perhaps the greatest of which was courage in the face of an implacable enemy in the form of apartheid; in confronting international indifference and avoidance of moral imperatives; in facing down the violence of the mob; in working through the painful implications of the overlapping claims of truth and justice.”

Rev McDowell added: “Desmond Tutu was both a herald and a bringer of justice and in his long life there were many who wished to extinguish the light which he brought into a dark and disordered world. But it was not overcome, and the light of his memory will remain as a beacon of hope to the oppressed, the cheerless and the weary everywhere.

“Our prayers are with Bishop Tutu’s family and friends; with the Anglican Church of South Africa and with the whole of Catholic Christianity, which has, for the time being, lost such a cheerful son.”

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said it was “another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa”.

“Desmond Tutu was a patriot without equal; a leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the biblical insight that faith without works is dead,” he tweeted.

“We pray that Archbishop Tutu’s soul will rest in peace but that his spirit will stand sentry over the future of our nation.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Archbishop Desmond Tutu would be remembered for his leadership and humour.

He said: “I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

“He was a critical figure in the fight against apartheid and in the struggle to create a new South Africa – and will be remembered for his spiritual leadership and irrepressible good humour.”

Strictly Come Dancing stars Oti and Motsi Mabuse, who grew up in South Africa, joined a host of people in remembering Tutu.

Oti, a dancer on the show, tweeted: “Oh no sad news” and said it was a “major loss” for South Africa.

Strictly Judge Motsi shared a quote on Twitter which read: “Forgiving is not forgetting; its actually remembering – remembering and not using your right to hit back. It’s a second chance for a new beginning. And the remembering part is particularly important. Especially if you don’t want to repeat what happened. R.I.P Desmond Tutu.”