Desmond M. Tutu, the cleric who used his pulpit and spirited oratory to help bring down apartheid in South Africa and then became the leading advocate of peaceful reconciliation under Black majority rule, died on Sunday in Cape Town. He was 90.
His death was confirmed by the office of South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, who called the archbishop “a leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the biblical insight that faith without works is dead.”
The cause of death was cancer, the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation said, adding that Archbishop Tutu had died in a care facility. He was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997, and was hospitalized several times in the years since, amid recurring fears that the disease had spread.
As leader of the South African Council of Churches and later as Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, Archbishop Tutu led the church to the forefront of Black South Africans’ decades-long struggle for freedom. His voice was a powerful force for nonviolence in the anti-apartheid movement, earning him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.
Archbishop Tutu preached that the policy of apartheid was as dehumanizing to the oppressors as it was to the oppressed. At home, he stood against looming violence and sought to bridge the chasm between Black and white; abroad, he urged economic sanctions against the South African government to force a change of policy. Today we here at SaltvineFoundation join the South African nation and the entire world to celebrate the passing to glory of God servants His Grace the Archbishop Desmond Tutu whose voice helped made the world a better place.