Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, has been awarded the 2013 Templeton Prize for his life-long work in advancing spiritual principles such as love and forgiveness which has helped to liberate people around the world.
Tutu rose to world prominence with his stalwart – and successful – opposition to South Africa’s apartheid regime. He combines the theological concept that all human beings are shaped in the image of God, known in Latin as Imago Dei, with the traditional African belief of Ubuntu, which holds that only through others do people achieve humanity which, he says, creates “a delicate network of interdependence.”
His broad calls to common humanity began in the 1970s, when Tutu used positions within the church to focus global attention on the apartheid policies of South Africa’s ruling minority. After Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 and subsequent election as president in the country’s first multi-ethnic democratic elections, Tutu chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission employing a revolutionary and relentless policy of confession, forgiveness and resolution that helped shepherd his nation from institutionalized racial repression toward an egalitarian democracy.
His deep faith and commitment to prayer and worship provides the foundation for his message of love and forgiveness. He has created that message through extensive contemplation of such profound “Big Questions” as “Do we live in a moral universe?” and “What is humanity’s duty to reflect and live God’s purposes?”
Such inquiries reflect the deep interests of the late Sir John Templeton, founder of the Templeton Prize, in fostering and recognizing spiritual progress, the purpose of the award since it was first given in 1973 to Mother Teresa.