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Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Southwark
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¬†Archbishop Desmond Tutu was guest preacher at the Eucharistic Service in Southwark Anglican cathedral yesterday morning. Brimming over with good humour - despite suffering from cancer, and having just flown in from South Africa with his wife Leah - he began by saying what a great joy it was to be there. "After hearing some of my obituaries it is easier to believe in the Resurrection. I am very thankful for all your good wishes and prayers," he said. The Archbishop, who served at the cathedral as a curate while studying theology at Kings, then thanked everyone for their support for the anti-apartheid movement. "Some made dire predictions about what would happen - including ourselves. They said unspeakable disasters would overtake our land. On the eve of the first elections those predictions seemed to be coming true. "But the bloodbath did not take place. Instead the world watched in amazement as people stood for hours in long queues waiting to vote. "Then, prophets of doom said the blacks would heap retribution on those who had made them suffer so much. But it was breathtaking. People showed a remarkable ability to forgive. Nelson Mandela, imprisoned for 27 years, was remarkable for not being consumed by bitterness and anger. Today he is an icon of forgiveness and reconciliation. He is the most famous - but there are many thousands more." "Our land was groaning under injustice and oppression but God did not send balls of retribution. We are God's partners, disciples of Jesus. We overcame apartheid." He said: "It would have been totally impossible without your love, prayers, extraordinary support of the AA, the vigils, protest marches, your boycotts - thank you." The congregation began to clap spontaneously at this point and the Archbishop urged them to clap more loudly and give themselves a standing ovation. Archbishop Tutu concluded by expressing confidence that the warring groups around the world in the Balkans, the Middle East, Angola, will eventually sit down and work out how they will be able to live together amicably. At the end of the service, the Dean, the Very Rev Colin Slee, presented him with a cheque for £6,500 for an HIV/AIDS project at St George's cathedral, Capetown, and the completion of a window there, celebrating freedom of South Africa. He was also given photos of King's college chapel at Kings, where he studied theology, and commemorative mugs for his wife Leah and his wife. Archbishop Tutu gave his final blessing in English, Nkosa and Zulu. At a small reception afterwards in the cathedral precinct, the Archbishop lead a rousing Happy Birthday for the South African high commissioner, Cheryl Carolus. Later, in conversation with Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes, he learnt that there had recently been a election for the seat of the Mayor of Southwark. "Do you think I should go for it?" he asked - before dissolving into fits of laughter. The Archbishop will be 70 in October. Three years ago he launched Southwark's recently-completed restoration programme. A reading room has been dedicated to him.
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