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Desmond Tutu Wins 2013 Templeton Prize

desmond-tutuTempleton Prize / Michael Culme-Seymour Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

The Templeton Prize has been awarded to Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa. The award recognizes his lifelong work in advancing spiritual and liberating principles such as love and forgiveness around the world.

Tutu became a globally recognized figure as a result of his longstanding and principled opposition to South Africa's apartheid regime. Then, after the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994 as president in the country's first multi-ethnic elections, Tutu chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Employing a revolutionary and relentless policy of confession, forgiveness, and resolution, the commission helped move the nation from institutionalized racial repression toward egalitarian democracy.

The Christian belief that all human beings are shaped in the image of God, Imago Dei, is one vital point of reference for Tutu, alongside the traditional African concept of Ubuntu, which holds that only through others do people become fully human. In a 1990 essay, "My Credo," he explained that the source of his hope in the face of suffering is "the indomitable resilience of the human spirit, which [does] not seem to know that it [is] unequal to the struggle and should by rights have long ago thrown in the towel."

"By embracing such universal concepts of the image of God within each person, Desmond Tutu also demonstrates how the innate humanity within each of us is intrinsically tied to the humanity between all peoples," said Dr. Jack Templeton in a video statement online. Dr. Templeton, president and chairman of the John Templeton Foundation, noted that "Desmond Tutu calls upon all of us to recognize that each and every human being is unique in all of history and, in doing so, to embrace our own vast potential to be agents for spiritual progress and positive change. Not only does he teach this idea, he lives it."

The award was widely reported in the world's press. The BBC noted that Tutu received the prize in a "representative capacity," as he was keen to acknowledge all those who have worked with him over the years. The Economistdeveloped this theme by describing how Tutu "boldly articulated the pain of black South Africans while always insisting that there might, after all, be a peaceful future for all races." His role was confirmed by Sowetan Live, which said that "Tutu spoke out vigorously against apartheid during the years when Nelson Mandela was in prison."

The religious dimension inherent in Tutu's work was also recognized. Agence France Press reported Tutu's "deep faith and commitment to prayer and worship" and The Washington Post described Tutu as "a true entrepreneur of the spirit."

The Templeton Prize, worth £1.1 million (about $1.7 million or €1.3 million), is the world's largest annual monetary award honoring a living person who has made exceptional contributions to affirming life's spiritual dimension. Tutu becomes the third Templeton Prize Laureate who has also won the Nobel Peace Prize, alongside Mother Teresa, the first winner of the Templeton Prize, and the Dalai Lama, last year's winner. In recent years, the award has also gone to academics who work at the interface of science and religion, as well as other leading spiritual and humanitarian figures.

The 2013 Templeton Prize will be presented to Desmond Tutu at a ceremony at the Guildhall in London on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 21, 2013. A celebration was held on Thursday, April 11, in Cape Town at St. George's Cathedral, the church that became known as "the people's cathedral" for its role in the fight against apartheid when Tutu served there as archbishop from 1986 to 1996. Video highlights are available online.

From Tutu's video statement:

"When you are in a crowd and you stand out from the crowd, it's usually because you are being carried on the shoulders of others... I would want to acknowledge all the wonderful people who accepted me as their leader at home and so to accept this prize... in a representative capacity. But thank you very much for identifying me as this year's laureate."

Other videos in which Desmond Tutu offers his answers to several Big Questions are also available online.

Nominations for the 2014 Templeton Prize are now open and must be submitted no later than July 1, 2013.

Read the original article on Templeton website.