Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu: A message from SAFCEI Founder and Patron, Bishop Geoff Davies

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Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

It is with enormous sadness that we have taken note of the passing of Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Words can hardly acknowledge the legacy that he leaves with us.

He was a great gift to the nation at a critical moment in our history and continued to speak out and use his global platform to shine a light on injustices from human rights to environmental issues and climate change.

We give our deepest sympathy to the Arch’s family and relatives, and Anglican community.

Archbishop Tutu’s love of life and people, and his capacity to seek forgiveness whilst not forgetting, touched and inspired many people around the world. May his prophetic voice keep on inspiring us.

SAFCEI Board and Staff

A message from SAFCEI Founder and Patron, the Green Bishop.

At this time of the passing of Archbishop Desmond, I look back with deep gratitude for the inspiration he was to me and so many. Wasn’t it wonderful that South Africa, in a period of such adversity, produced two outstanding world leaders, President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu?  Both were visionary leaders who knew what was right, and stood fearlessly for it.

The foundation of Archbishop Desmond’s life was his spirituality, built on daily prayer. His insight and moral leadership was also based on his intimate knowledge of Scripture, from which he proclaimed the principles of justice and equity, compassion and love. Together these bring joy. He followed the Biblical injuncture to “Fear not, for the Lord is with you”. By example he encouraged all others to do the same.

I recall that as General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches in the 1980s, he encouraged all organisations to gather first for prayer, before sharing stories of what was going on in Apartheid South Africa. It was during these times that he reported on the death threats he received from security police.

In pursuit of justice and equity, he rejoiced in the variety of people in our country and promoted the rights of all, regardless of race, religion or gender. At the funeral of Professor Wangari Maathai, a fellow Nobel Peace Laureate, he issued a challenge to the President of Kenya. He said that men had failed to uphold peace and non-violence, so it was time for women to take over political leadership.  He was often heard to say that no woman would want to give birth to sons to be cannon fodder.

He believed that the Biblical principles of justice and equity, love and compassion should be applied to all life, not only people, and the sanctity of life must be applied to all creation. At a time when it was not fashionable, he saw the need to care for the natural environment and to take action to overcome climate change. He supported the setting up of the Anglican Communion Environment Network, and subsequently SAFCEI (the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute), an organisation that brings together all faiths in their care for the Earth community.

He knew that the love of life, all life, is key to our well-being and global peace.

He was forthright. When the ANC Government refused to give his great friend, the Dalai Lama, a visa to attend his eightieth birthday celebration, he stated that he would pray for the downfall of the government.  He overcame this disappointment when he visited the Dalai Lama at his home in Dharamsala, in India.  The two friends spent a wonderful week together, a time that culminated in a book and a film on “Joy”, and the importance and the joy of caring for all creation.

We thank God for Desmond Mpilo Tutu. May his life continue to be an inspiration and encouragement to us now and to future generations.

Bishop Geoff Davies


Announcement by the Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town and Metropolitan of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa