Despite his death on Sunday at the age of 90, the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu remains a beacon of freedom and truth for South Africans and people around the world, according to Catholic Bishop Jan de Groef.
By Devin Watkins
As South Africans mourn the death of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, the country’s Catholic community seeks to remember Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s legacy.
Among his many accomplishments, the Archbishop led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up to demand restorative and non-punitive justice for crimes committed during the apartheid era.
The Catholic Bishop of Bethlehem in South Africa, Jan de Groef, was among those who recalled Archbishop Tutu as a “beacon” that “reminds us of our vocation as shepherds”.
Speaking to Claire Riobe of Vatican News, Bishop de Groef said he hoped all Church leaders could be faithful as the late Archbishop was.
“Archbishop Tutu was very committed to truth and to freedom, recognizing the dignity of each person,” said the bishop. “So, it’s really something that stays in people’s hearts.”
Events are being held this week across South Africa to commemorate Archbishop Tutu, including ecumenical and interfaith services. His remains will be cremated and buried in the mausoleum of St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town.
The late Archbishop was also active in ecumenical efforts and maintained good relations with other denominations, including the Catholic Church.
On the very day of his death, Pope Francis sent his condolences for the death of the “servant of the Gospel” and paid tribute to his “promotion of racial equality and reconciliation in his native South Africa”.
Bishop de Groef said that the local Church hopes to continue its ecumenical efforts with other Christians to foster “that unity among us which is so important for South Africa, as well as for the whole world”.