‘An inspiration to generations’: Tributes pour in for Archbishop Tutu

US President Biden says he is ‘heartbroken’; Queen Elizabeth II calls the late anti-apartheid icon a ‘man who tirelessly championed human rights’

Flowers are placed alongside a photo of Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa, December 26, 2021. (AP Photo)
Flowers are placed alongside a photo of Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa, December 26, 2021. (AP Photo)

South Africa’s anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu died Sunday, aged 90, sparking tributes from around the world.

Barack Obama

Former US president Barack Obama, that nation’s first Black leader, called Tutu “a mentor, a friend, and a moral compass,” who could “find humanity in his adversaries.”

“A universal spirit, Archbishop Tutu was grounded in the struggle for liberation and justice in his own country, but also concerned with injustice everywhere,” said the fellow Nobel Peace laureate in a statement.

Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden said he was “heartbroken” to learn of the archbishop’s death.

“Desmond Tutu followed his spiritual calling to create a better, freer, and more equal world,” Biden and First Lady Jill Biden said in a statement that praised Tutu’s “courage and moral clarity.”

Pope Francis

The Vatican said in a statement that Pope Francis was saddened and offered “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.”

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaks during a memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at Westminster Abbey in London, on March 3, 2014. (JOHN STILLWELL / POOL / AFP / File)

The Elders

“We are all devastated,” said Mary Robinson, chair of The Elders, a group of global leaders working for peace and human rights that Tutu co-founded.

“He inspired me to be a ‘prisoner of hope,’ in his inimitable phrase,” said Robinson, a former president of Ireland.

The Elders said in a statement they had “lost a dear friend, whose infectious laugh and mischievous sense of humor delighted and charmed them all.”

African Union

“A man of faith convinced in the power of reconciliation through restorative justice,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, the current chair of the African Union.

Tutu, he added, “was a true shepherd of peace.”

Uhuru Kenyatta

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Tutu’s passing was “a big blow,” not only to South Africa, but to the entire African continent.

“Archbishop Tutu inspired a generation of African leaders who embraced his non-violent approaches in the liberation struggle,” he said.

Bobi Wine

“A giant has fallen,” wrote Uganda opposition leader Bobi Wine on Twitter.

“We thank God for his life — a purposeful life, truly lived in the service of humanity.”

FILE – Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, center, breaks into dance after renewing his wedding vows to his wife of 60 years, Leah, right, during a service in Soweto, Johannesburg, August 2015. (AP Photo, File)

UN Secretary-General

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres called Tutu “a towering global figure for peace and an inspiration to generations across the world.”

“During the darkest days of apartheid, he was a shining beacon for social justice, freedom and non-violent resistance,” Guterres said in a statement.

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II called Tutu a “man who tirelessly championed human rights in South Africa and across the world.”

“I remember with fondness my meetings with him and his great warmth and humor,” she said in a statement.

Boris Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Tutu “a critical figure in the fight against apartheid and in the struggle to create a new South Africa.”

He “will be remembered for his spiritual leadership and irrepressible good humor,” Johnson tweeted.

Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron said Tutu had “dedicated his life to human rights and equality between peoples.”

“His struggle for the end of apartheid and for reconciliation in South Africa will remain in our memory,” he tweeted.

South African Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu addresses a news conference at the World Conference Against Racism, in Durban, South Africa, on September 5, 2001. (AP Photo/Obed Zilwa, File)

Thabo Makgoba

Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba said the life of Tutu, a “deeply spiritual person,” should be celebrated.

“He named wrong wherever he saw it and by whomever it was committed. He challenged the systems that demeaned humanity.”

Charles Michel

“A man who gave his life to freedom with a deep commitment to human dignity,” European Council President Charles Michel wrote on Twitter.

“A giant who stood up against apartheid. You will be deeply missed.”

Olaf Scholz

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called Tutu “a lifelong advocate of the principles of humanity, freedom and equality.”

“At Christmas time and in view of his death, these are values that we particularly celebrate and hold dear,” he said in a statement.

Jonas Gahr Store

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store paid tribute to a man who “showed the power of reconciliation and forgiveness.”

Highlighting Tutu’s Nobel award, he added: “Never has a peace prize been so fitting.”

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