Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s viewpoints in his own words

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  • Desmond Tutu
    Desmond Tutu
    South African churchman, politician, archbishop, Nobel Prize winner (1931–2021)
Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaking at Aid agency Tearfund’s Who Is My Neighbour conference (Carl Court/PA) (PA Wire)
Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaking at Aid agency Tearfund’s Who Is My Neighbour conference (Carl Court/PA) (PA Wire)

People across the world have recalled their memories of Desmond Tutu after it was announced he had died.

Tutu, a clergyman, was known for his charisma and passion to make the world a better place.

Throughout his life, he challenged issues during key moments in history, such as the systemic racism in South Africa during apartheid, and championed others, including LGBT rights and assisted dying.

While paying tribute to him, his friends, colleagues and those who have crossed paths with him in their lives have been sharing quotes that Tutu gave.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaks at the Britannia Stadium in Stoke (Dave Thompson/PA) (PA Archive)
Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaks at the Britannia Stadium in Stoke (Dave Thompson/PA) (PA Archive)

– On apartheid in South Africa

In an interview with The Nobelity Project in 2008, he said: “When you saw so many who seemed to be supporting the racist policies of the former government in South Africa, and you say ‘How are we going to change?’

“Well, I always say to people, ‘Remember, the sea is actually made up of drops of water.

“What you do, where you are, is of significance.

“It may just be that your act of courage encourages someone else who was slightly more apprehensive’.”

– On forgiveness

In an interview with Journeyman.tv in 1998, he said: “The truth shocks.

“The truth traumatises.

“It’s not easy, it’s never easy, to forgive.

“It’s never easy to be reconciled.

“It’s not cheap.

“It cost God the death of his son.”

– On assisted dying

In 2016, Tutu did an interview with the Religious Alliance for Dignity in Dying.

In it, he said: “I have been fortunate enough to have spent my life working for dignity for the living.

“Now I wish to help give people dignity in dying.

“I believe that dying people should be shown compassion at the end of their life.

“They should have the right to choose the manner and timing of their death.

“Instead, many are forced to endure terrible pain and suffering against their wishes.

“I hope that when the time comes I am treated with compassion and allowed to have the death that I want.

“People who are terminally ill should have the option of dignified and compassionate assisted dying, alongside the wonderful palliative care that already exists.

“I pray that politicians, lawmakers and religious leaders have the courage to support the choices terminally ill citizens make in departing Mother Earth with dignity and love.”

– His sense of humour

In a tribute to him, Sir Richard Branson said: “He had no airs and graces, and always made everyone laugh. ‘I don’t know why, but some people accuse me of name-dropping,’ he told me once. ‘I just happened to have lunch with the Queen at Buckingham Palace the other day and she said, ‘Arch, you are such a name-dropper!’”

On being given the chance to present an award at the British Comedy Awards in 1995: “I’m glad to be here, to do this, as reparation for the cricket.”

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