Congratulations to our long-time colleague and friend Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who was just awarded the 2013 Templeton Prize for his contribution to "spiritual progress" in the world. He certainly deserves the recognition and the $1.7 million award that comes with it.
Few people have been as comprehensive and consistent in their work and witness for the dignity and rights of all people as Desmond Tutu. He ranks high on the list of South African faith and community leaders who stood up against apartheid, the system of racial segregation that existed when South Africa's white minority ruled the country.
Archbishop Tutu knew this system ran counter to basic human decency – not to mention the tenets of Christian belief – and he was not afraid to challenge those churches that justified apartheid by employing a twisted theology.
As a priest, bishop and archbishop in the Anglican Church, and as general secretary of the ecumenical South African Council of Churches, Desmond Tutu reached out to ecumenical bodies around the world - including to Church World Service in the United States.
He enlisted our support in the struggle against apartheid. CWS was privileged to know and work with Desmond Tutu well before he achieved any international fame, and well before he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He has been in our offices numerous times, and has addressed our national governing assembly.
Since the election of a new government in South Africa in 1994, Desmond Tutu has worked for peace and reconciliation among South Africans and has spoken out against xenophobia – anti-immigrant laws and violence – in both South Africa and the United States.
The archbishop has been a strong participant in movements to end poverty and hunger – a priority for CWS. We've also joined our voices together for climate justice and for those living with HIV/AIDS.
We salute a dear friend and prophetic leader and heartily congratulate him.
Rev. John L. McCullough is the president and CEO of CWS.