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Pope, Catholic Bishops in Southern Africa Send Condolences for Death of Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 2011. wesselspj via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Pope Francis and members of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) on Sunday, December 26, sent their condolences for the death of retired Anglican Archbishop and anti-apartheid leader, Desmond Tutu.

Archbishop Tutu, who fought for an end to racial segregation in his native country of South Africa, died December 26 in Cape Town at the age of 90.

“Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and he offers heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones,” a note signed by the Vatican Secretary of State, Pietro Cardinal Parolin, says.

“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,” Cardinal Parolin further says.

He continues, “Upon all who mourn his passing in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection, Pope Francis invokes the Divine blessings of peace and consolation in the Lord Jesus.”

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On their part, SACBC members have expressed their “fraternal message of condolences” to the wife of the late Archbishop, the family, and the Anglican Church.

“The SACBC would like to convey a fraternal message of condolences to Mrs. Leah Tutu, the family and the Anglican Church over the death of the Late Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, Desmond Mpilo Tutu,” SACBC members say in their message published on their website.

The late Archbishop, the Catholic Bishops say, “will be remembered for his immense spiritual contribution to the liberation and democracy of South Africa, the reason for which he was a joint laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize. His quest for justice continued when he was the Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and beyond.”

Archbishop Tutu, a contemporary of Nelson Mandela, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his efforts to end apartheid in South Africa.

In 1995, Mandela, then South Africa’s President, named Archbishop Tutu president of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, responsible for gathering evidence of apartheid-era crimes.

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The prominent Anglican Archbishop retired from public life in 2010.

“As the Catholic Church in Southern Africa continues to remember the birth of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” SACBC members who comprise Catholic Bishops in Botswana, Eswatini, and South Africa say, their leadership “wishes Archbishop Tutu’s soul a peaceful rest through the mercy of the same Jesus Christ.”