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World leaders mourn the death of human rights activist Desmond Tutu

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World leaders mourn the death of human rights activist Desmond Tutu

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World leaders and human rights activists mourned the death of Desmond Tutu, the South African priest and human rights activist who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the fight against apartheid, on Sunday. racial injustice and homophobia.

Tutu died peacefully at the age of 90 in Cape Town, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced. Ramaphosa said in a statement that the activist’s death “is another chapter of mourning in our nation’s farewell to a generation of exceptional South Africans who left us a liberated South Africa.”

“From the sidewalks of the resistance in South Africa to the pulpits of the great cathedrals and places of worship of the world, to the prestigious setting of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, l’Arche has distinguished itself as a non-champion. sectarian and inclusive of universal human rights, ” Ramaphosa continued.

Tutu was ordained in 1961 and eventually became bishop of the small southern African kingdom of Lesotho, president of the South African Council of Churches, the first black Anglican bishop of Johannesburg, and the first black Anglican bishop of Cape Town.

Pope Francis said he was saddened to learn of Tutu’s death and invoked “the divine blessings of peace and consolation from the Lord” on all who mourned the passing of the former priest. The Pope also paid tribute to Tutu’s religious service through “promoting racial equality and reconciliation in his native South Africa”.

Retired Archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu (right) greets President Nelson Mandela during the 1996 Cape Town service to celebrate the end of Tutu’s term as head of the Anglican Church in South Africa.

Guy Tillim via Associated Press

Throughout the 1980s, Tutu was one of the most prominent black South Africans speaking out against the country’s abuses, such as apartheid violence and the state of emergency that gave police and l army overwhelming power. He won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

Tutu often worked with Nobel laureate and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela, who, after 27 years in prison under white rule, became South Africa’s first president in 1994. As president, Mandela has appointed Tutu chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which exposed the abuses of the apartheid system.

“The life of Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a gift. Endowed with brilliance and eloquence, steadfast determination and good humor, as well as an unwavering faith in the decency inherent in all, Archbishop Tutu fully embodied the spirit of Ubuntu: “I am because you are,” said Bill Clinton, who was President of the United States when South Africa was freed from apartheid. “This spirit prompted him to fight first for freedom, then for reconciliation.

“As chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he helped bring healing to his country and reminded us all that the search for justice begins in the heart. His own heart was good enough to seek reconciliation and not revenge, to reject demonization and embrace his uncanny ability to bring out the best in others, ”Clinton continued. “Those of us touched by the gift of his life owe it to him to pass it on.”

As a religious leader, Tutu has also campaigned internationally for LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage. The former priest said he “would not worship a homophobic God” and in 2013 launched a campaign in Cape Town for LBGTQ rights. His position was controversial with many in his home country and in the Anglican Church.

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the United Nations independent expert on LGBTQ rights, remembered Tutu’s activism in a tweet on Sunday: “I am grateful for a life filled with so much dignity, wisdom and love for his brothers and sisters,” he said. “I am in debt for a life of such vital support in the fight against violence and discrimination based on” sexual orientation and gender identity.

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