Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Good on You

Bishop Desmond Tutu is a man of integrity and courage.

He was a key participant in the emergence of a new South Africa. He wrote deeply pastoral letters to President P W Botha pleading for change in our country. He marched in the streets for justice. I remember this brave cleric as he rescued a man from a township mob intent on “necklacing” him with a burning tyre. And he was criticised by President Botha, and by many, many white members of the Anglican Church in South Africa – as well as many others who wanted to retain the status quo. Mostly his critics said something about “keeping politics out of religion”.

Fr Desmond’s integrity did not end with the emergence of a democratic South Africa. His goal was never political: he genuinely believes that God loves all people, and that God calls us to work for a renewed land. He took up the struggle for free anti-retroviral treatment for HIV/Aids sufferers. He also challenged former deputy president Jacob Zuma to relinquish his bid for our country's Presidency after Zuma admitted to having sex with a young HIV-positive woman: "What has come over us? Perhaps we did not realise just how apartheid has damaged us so that we seem to have lost our sense of right and wrong," he said in a lecture at the University of Cape Town. And found himself roundly criticised by his erstwhile comrades in the struggle. Amazingly he was told to keep religion out of politics!

Fr Desmond has also spoken out on international issues: most often in opposition to people who want to wage war as a solution to the world’s problems. And his words have not always been welcome. In April the University of St. Thomas initially refused to invite him to speak because its officials were worried that his opposition to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would offend the Jewish community.

In this past week he spoke up on the way some Christians have created the perception that God hates gay and lesbian people: "We treat them as pariahs and push them outside our communities. We make them doubt that they too are children of God - and this must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy” Tutu said he was "saddened and ashamed" of the Anglican church over their opposition to the ordination of a Gay Bishop: "If we are going to not welcome or invite people because of sexual orientation...if God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn't worship that God."

I salute this man. He has not wavered in his opposition to any form of discrimination. His photograph hangs in my office. And I pray for him each day – that he will remain a troublesome prophet. We need people who are willing to speak uncomfortable truths.

1 comment:

Gus said...

I have been looking for words - you seem to have found them.


Can I quote you on my blog?