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04 April 2013

Desmond Tutu wins prestigious Templeton Prize

Desmond Tutu. Photo credit: Templeton Prize / Michael Culme-Seymour

Bishop Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, has been awarded the 2013 Templeton Prize for his lifelong work in advancing love and forgiveness which have helped to liberate people around the world.  

In being presented the award, Tutu is recognised for his stalwart – and successful – opposition to South Africa’s apartheid regime. Through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission he established a revolutionary and relentless policy of confession, forgiveness and resolution that helped shepherd his nation from racial repression toward equality and democracy. 

Desmond Tutu’s deep faith and commitment to prayer and worship provides the foundation for his message of love and forgiveness. The annual Templeton Prize honours a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. Desmond Tutu will receive the Templeton Prize at a ceremony at the Guildhall in London on 21 May.

A celebration of the prize to Tutu will be held on 11 April in Cape Town at St George’s Cathedral, the site that became known as “the people’s cathedral” for its role in the fight against apartheid when he served there as archbishop from 1986 to 1996. Bishop Tutu joins a distinguished group of 42 former recipients of the world’s largest annual monetary award, including Mother Theresa in 1973 and the Dalai Lama in 2012.

“When you are in a crowd and you stand out from the crowd it’s usually because you are being carried on the shoulders of others," Bishop Tutu said. "I want to acknowledge all the wonderful people who accepted me as their leader at home and so to accept this prize in a representative capacity.”

In 2007, with Nelson Mandela, he convened The Elders, several former global leaders, now independent, working for peace and human rights in trouble spots around the world. Through the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation and other groups, Tutu continues to defend human rights around the world.

Dr John M Templeton Jr, president of the John Templeton Foundation, said: “Desmond Tutu calls upon all of us to recognise that each and every human being is unique in all of history and, in doing so, to embrace our own vast potential to be agents for spiritual progress and positive change. Not only does he teach this idea, he lives it.”

Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance, said: “Desmond Tutu’s life and ministry has modelled another way of living. In refusing the pathway of violence or revenge he has provided us with an example following in the footsteps of his Jesus. His nation, South Africa, and many other nations have been impacted for the good because of this.”