We only know that we went down a clear path,
telling us: make me
a duel of work and hopes.
Be good and no more,
be what I have been among you: soul.
Let the land that he cultivated with a smile not become deserted. The farmer has left us and the world is sad. He did not walk with half measures. “He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters ”(Matthew 12:30). Desmond Tutu recalled that to be a Christian you have to be a rebel in the fight against inequality, repression and ignominy. With the sweetness that comes from Christian love, hers was the firmness that accompanies moral conviction and respect for human dignity.
A victim of polio and tuberculosis, he receives a visit from an Anglican missionary during his adolescence. When he regained his health, he dedicated himself to teaching. He received the call to the Christian ministry and, already being a deacon, he went to study theology in London. He returns as a professor to a seminary in Bhisho, South Africa. He was the first black dean of Johannesburg. As early as 1978 he was secretary general of the South African Council of Churches. His open rebellion, without fuss, made him worthy of the Nobel Prize in 1984. In 1984 he was ordained Bishop of Johannesburg and then Cape Town. As such, he led a demonstration of 30,000 people against apartheid in 1989. He receives Nelson Mandela at his home when he is released from prison. Once president, the former political prisoner leads him to head the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In 1997 he was diagnosed with cancer and retired from the episcopate. In his report to the Commission, he points out the guilt of the racist colonialist government and at the same time condemns some anti-apartheid groups that sowed violence: the African National Congress and the extreme left groups. It is then dedicated to the fight against AIDS, the Alliance of Civilizations and the Desmond Tutu Center for Peace. In 2013, he started a campaign that advocates for the rights of the LGBT community. “I don’t worship a homophobic God.”
In 1984, when he received his Nobel Prize, he made it clear how his Christian ministry guided his steps as a political activist: “The Bible does not know peace without justice. It would be shouting ‘peace, peace!’, Where there is no peace. The Shalom of God, peace, inevitably implies righteousness, justice, integrity, fullness of life, participation in decision-making, goodness, laughter, joy, compassion, solidarity and reconciliation ”.
In a country where violence was raging, he had the courage to be a rebel and a pacifist: “Let us work to be peacemakers, those who have been given a wonderful participation in Our Lord’s ministry of reconciliation. If we want peace, as we have been told, let us work for justice. Let us transform our swords into plowshares ”.
Desmond Tutu wanted to make with his life the Franciscan commandment “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace”, with a smile rebelling against inequality. Christian and political activist cemented the North American activity that from the Protestant pulpits was transformed into the movement for civil rights. He set out, without boasting, to live the beatitudes (Matthew 5: 3-10). “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they will receive and inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of justice because theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu became an example for those who take the path of non-violent struggle against outrage and oppression. His was the tenacity as a pacifist soldier for justice: “if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
The war against homophobia reaffirmed the desire for validity in a group still marginalized by political, legal, tribal systems, Islam, cultural traditions and some Christian denominations. That a Christian prelate, a great figure, raised the flag of equality brought hope to many in the LGBT community.
If a target joined them, a distance was also glimpsed between Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. The bishop stayed out of the political sphere. Tutu kept her voice prophetic. He wanted to be the moral oracle that rebels and articulates the demands for justice. “God calls us to be his co-workers to extend his Kingdom of Shalom, of justice, kindness, compassion, care, solidarity, laughter, joy and reconciliation, so that all the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ where He will reign forever and ever. Amen”.
* Justo J. Sánchez, SPJ, AICA-USA, cultural analyst, worked as a journalist in New York. He has taught at American universities and in Italy.
We wish to give thanks to the author of this article for this incredible content
OPINION: Tears for a rebel named Desmond Tutu