​“At the moment South Africa has the horrendous distinction of being the world’s most unequal society,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu said on 11 April. He was speaking at a special service in St George’s Cathedral Cape Town to celebrate his being awarded the 2013 Templeton Prize for "advancing spiritual principles such as love and forgiveness".

He pleaded with the South African Government to recover a spirit of ‘Ubuntu’ so that “we can put a smile back on God’s face.”

At a media conference in Cape Town he explained that the spirit of Ubuntu is “the spirit saying I am because you are. We pray that South Africa will recover its own sense of worth of every single human being, recover our own Ubuntu, and become a generous, caring, compassionate society.”

“I think that 1994 and what happened sometime after… made us the flavour of the month,” he said. “The world really thought we were the cat’s whiskers.  We can’t pretend we’ve remained the same. For goodness’ sake, recover the spirit which made us great.”

He added: “We are creatures made for goodness, all of us… What God intended for each of us is that we would be members of one human family.  We are made for interdependence, made to live in an incredible dedicated web of interdependence. A world where I make up what is lacking in you and you make up what is lacking in me. When we break that fundamental law of being, then all kinds of things go horribly wrong. We certainly cannot survive in a society that is so thoroughly unequal and totally unsustainable.”

Dr John M Templeton, Jr, son of Sir John Templeton, the philanthropist who created the prize, also spoke at the media conference:

“It is Father Desmond’s deep faith, and his core commitment to prayer, worship, and the life of the Spirit – that has provided all of us with the foundation for his message of love and forgiveness. These core Christian principles have broken chains of hurt and pain and thereby continue to advance the spiritual liberation of people around the world.

“We… pay homage to Father Desmond as a true entrepreneur of the spirit, committed to creating a society guided by the essential human values of love, hope, tolerance and courage.”

The Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, described Dr Tutu as "one of the spiritual giants of our times… The greatest lesson we should learn from him is that his life is steeped in prayer, and these deep wells resource all that he does, giving him a particular gift for expressing profound truths with great simplicity.

"During our darkest, bleakest hours, he was able to see the bigger picture… and so he gave us a vision of hope for abundant life for everyone, transformed through God's promises. It is a vision with which he continues to challenge the whole world today. We need to hear that challenge, and I hope this prize will encourage him to keep on raising his voice where it needs to be heard."

With Ed Thornton, Church Times
 

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