‘Moral Compass’: Requiem for South African Archbishop Tutu

Funeral Of Archbishop Desmond Tutu Takes Place In Cape Town

C Associated PressE TOWN, South Africa – Honorary Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu was honored at a state funeral on Saturday for his Nobel Peace Prize-winning role in ending South Africa’s racial oppression and advocating for LGBTQ rights.

“When we were in the dark, he brought light,” said Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, head of the worldwide Church of England, in a video message shown at the funeral mass held over a pack at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town.

“To me praising him is like paying tribute to an elephant,” Welby said. “South Africa has given us outstanding examples of outstanding leaders of a rainbow nation with President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu … The lights of many Nobel laureates have dimmed over time, but the lights of Archbishop Tutu have grown brighter.”

Tutu passed away last Sunday at the age of 90. His simple pine coffin, the cheapest available at his request to avoid ostentatious display, was the focus of the service, which also featured African choirs, prayers, and incense.

Tutu, who became an Anglican priest in the early 1960s, was awarded the 1984 Nobel Prize for his nonviolent opposition to apartheid. He later became the first black archbishop of Cape Town.

After South Africa achieved democracy in 1994, Mandela appointed Tutu as chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a body set up to report on human rights violations that took place during apartheid.

Throughout his life, Tutu actively promoted equal rights for all and condemned corruption and other setbacks he saw in the African National Congress-led government in South Africa.

“Archbishop Desmond Tutu was our moral compass and national conscience,” said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who delivered his funeral eulogy. “Even after coming to democracy, he did not hesitate to draw attention, often sharply, to our shortcomings as leaders of a democratic state.”

Ramaphosa presented the national flag to Leah, Tutu’s widow, who was sitting in a wheelchair.

The cathedral can accommodate 1,200 parishioners, but only 100 mourners were allowed to attend the funeral due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Several dozen people, having withstood the bad weather, watched the service on a big screen in front of the Cape Town Mayor’s Office. At the municipal government building, Tutu held hands with Nelson Mandela on the day in 1990 that Mandela was released after 27 years in prison for his opposition to apartheid.

The sermon was delivered by Michael Nuttall, former Bishop of Natal. Nuttall described his relationship with Tutu as “an unlikely partnership at a truly critical moment in the life of our country from 1989 to 1996, he is the Archbishop of Cape Town and I am his deputy.” With humor, he described himself as “No. 2 to Tutu “.

“Our partnership may have resonated in the hearts and minds of many people: the dynamic black leader and his white deputy in the final years of apartheid,” Nuttall continued. “And hey, presto, heaven didn’t collapse. If you like, we were an anticipation of what might be in our wayward, divided nation. “

Two daughters of Tutu, Mfo and Nontombi, ministers of the church, participated in the worship service with former Irish President Mary Robinson and Graça Machel, widow of two African presidents, Zamora Machel of Mozambique and Nelson Mandela.

The cathedral bells rang as Tutu’s coffin was carried away after the funeral for a private cremation.

In keeping with Tutu’s commitment to the environment, his body will be “aquamated,” a process that uses water to prepare the remains for final disposal. Tutu’s remains will be buried in the cathedral where his funeral took place.

A few days before the funeral, several thousand people paid their respects to Tutu by filling his coffin in the cathedral and signing condolence books.