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The world remembers Desmond Tutu; Biden praises his ‘moral clarity’

Desmond Tutu of South Africa gestures at a podium
In 2010, retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke at the opening concert for the World Cup in Soweto, South Africa.
(Hassan Ammar / Associated Press)

Reactions to the death Sunday of Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu:

“On this morning after Christmas, we are heartbroken to learn of the passing of a true servant of God and of the people, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. We were blessed to spend time with him on several occasions over the past many years. His courage and moral clarity helped inspire our commitment to change American policy toward the repressive Apartheid regime in South Africa. We felt his warmth and joy when we visited him during the 2010 World Cup that celebrated the diversity and beauty of his beloved nation. And, just a few months ago, we joined the world in celebrating his 90th birthday and reflecting on the power of his message of justice, equality, truth, and reconciliation as we confront racism and extremism in our time today. Born to a school teacher and a laundress and into poverty and entrenched racial segregation, Desmond Tutu followed his spiritual calling to create a better, freer, and more equal world. His legacy transcends borders and will echo throughout the ages.” — President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden

Desmond Tutu, the cleric who won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his impassioned campaign against apartheid in South Africa, died at age 90.

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“Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a mentor, a friend, and a moral compass for me and so many others. A universal spirit, Archbishop Tutu was grounded in the struggle for liberation and justice in his own country, but also concerned with injustice everywhere. He never lost his impish sense of humor and willingness to find humanity in his adversaries, and Michelle and I will miss him dearly.”
— former President Obama

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“The death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu (always known as Arch) is news that we receive with profound sadness — but also with profound gratitude as we reflect upon his life. ... Arch’s love transformed the lives of politicians and priests, township dwellers and world leaders. The world is different because of this man.”
— Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

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“Indeed the big baobab tree has fallen. South Africa and the mass democratic movement has lost a tower of moral conscience and an epitome of wisdom.”
— the African National Congress, South Africa’s ruling party

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“The friendship and the spiritual bond between us was something we cherished. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was entirely dedicated to serving his brothers and sisters for the greater common good. He was a true humanitarian and a committed advocate of human rights.”
— the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader

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“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 humor.”
— British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

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“No words better exemplify his ministry than the three he contributed to a work of art at The Carter Center: love, freedom, and compassion. He lived his values in the long struggle to end apartheid in South Africa, in his leadership of the national campaign for truth and reconciliation, and in his role as a global citizen. His warmth and compassion offered us a spiritual message that is eternal.”
— former President Carter

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“He was never afraid to call out human rights violators no matter who they were and his legacy must be honored by continuing his work to ensure equality for all.”
— Amnesty International South Africa Executive Director Shenilla Mohamed

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“The loss of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu is immeasurable. He was larger than life, and for so many in South Africa and around the world his life has been a blessing. His contributions to struggles against injustice, locally and globally, are matched only by the depth of his thinking about the making of liberatory futures for human societies.”
— the Nelson Mandela Foundation

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“I’m saddened to learn of the death of global sage, human rights leader, and powerful pilgrim on earth. ... A great, influential elder is now an eternal, witnessing ancestor. And we are better because he was here.”
— Bernice King, youngest daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

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“We are all devastated at the loss of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The Elders would not be who they are today without his passion, commitment and keen moral compass. He inspired me to be a ‘prisoner of hope’, in his inimitable phrase. Arch was respected around the world for his dedication to justice, equality and freedom. Today we mourn his death but affirm our determination to keep his beliefs alive.”
— Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and chair of the Elders, an independent group of world leaders and human rights activists

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Tutu’s passing “closes an important chapter in Africa’s long and painful struggle for justice, liberty and democracy and the continent’s current efforts to create prosperity and ... find its competitive edge in the rest of the world. For South Africans, it is a major reckoning with the reality that one-by-one, its heroic liberators are leaving.”
— Raila Odinga, Kenya’s former prime minister and opposition leader

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“His legacy is moral strength, moral courage and clarity. He felt with the people. In public and alone, he cried because he felt people’s pain. And he laughed — no, not just laughed, he cackled with delight — when he shared their joy.”
— Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba

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“His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and he offers heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones. Mindful of his service to the Gospel through the promotion of racial equality and reconciliation in his native South Africa, His Holiness commends his soul to the loving mercy of Almighty God.”
— telegram sent by the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin

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“A powerful and courageous voice for nonviolence, reconciliation and peace. He will be very much missed in our troubled world. May he Rest In Peace.”
— Egypt’s former vice president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei

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“Through his distinguished work over the years as a cleric, freedom fighter and peacemaker, Archbishop Tutu inspired a generation of African leaders who embraced his non-violent approaches in the liberation struggle.”
— Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta

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Tutu’s death was “a loss for justice, truth and peace in the world. ... He loved Palestine and Palestine loved him.”
— Mohammad Shtayyeh, prime minister of the Palestinian Authority


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