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"A towering spiritual figure": Archbishop meets Desmond Tutu

Wednesday 22nd May 2013

The South African archbishop and social rights activist "incarnates the grace of God," said Archbishop Justin

Archbishop Justin with Desmond Tutu Archbishops Justin Welby and Desmond Tutu. Photograph: Lambeth Palace  

Archbishop Justin said the Church and the world owe “an enormous debt of gratitude” to Desmond Tutu when the pair met in London today.

The Archbishop, who shared the Eucharist with the Anglican bishop and Nobel Laureate this morning, said it was hard to imagine South Africa today without "the unrelenting presence and prayers of this towering spiritual figure".

The former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, who played a key role in fighting apartheid in South Africa, was in London to receive the Templeton Prize.

“Like few others, Archbishop Tutu incarnates the grace of God – surviving decades of unthinkable trials and torment, he somehow did not forget how to dance or sing,” Archbishop Justin said. 

“More recently his name has become synonymous with the courage to face truth and the pursuit of reconciliation. I thank God for this life of inspiration and witness.”

Archbishop Tutu received the Templeton Prize for his lifelong work in advancing Christian principles of love and forgiveness - extended across political boundaries - which have helped liberate people around the world.

At the award ceremony in London last night, Archbishop Tutu spoke of how people were created for "togetherness". 

“Ubuntu – a person can be a person only through other persons," he said. "You can be generous only because you learnt from another how to be generous. How God longs for us to know that – you know what – we were created for togetherness. We were created to be members of one family, God’s family, the human family." 

The South African leader joins a distinguished group of 42 former Templeton recipients including last year’s Laureate, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. It celebrates living persons who have made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.

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