WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. (CNS) — Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu was named the 2013 Templeton Prize winner for his work in advancing the ideals of love and understanding in his native South Africa and around the world.
In announcing the award April 4, the John Templeton Foundation said the retired archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, "combines the theological concept that all human beings are shaped in the image of God, known in Latin as 'imago Dei,' with the traditional African belief of 'Ubuntu,' which holds that only through others do people achieve humanity."
The prize, which includes an award of about $1.7 million, will be presented to Archbishop Tutu in London May 21.
"By embracing such universal concepts of the image of God within each person, Desmond Tutu also demonstrates how the innate humanity with in each of us is intrinsically tied to the humanity between all peoples," John M. Templeton, foundation president and chairman, said in a video statement posted on the foundation website, www.templetonprize.org.
"Desmond Tutu calls upon all of us to recognize that each and every human being is unique in all of history and, in doing so, to embrace our own vast potential to be agents for spiritual progress and positive change. Not only does he teach this idea, he lives it," Templeton said.
Archbishop Tutu, 81, rose to prominence during the 1970s for his vocal opposition to the apartheid policies of the South African regime which institutionalized racism. After apartheid ended, Archbishop Tutu chaired the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission that utilized confession, forgiveness and resolution to guide a path toward democratic rule.
The archbishop was born in 1931 in Klerksdorp, South Africa. He began to see an alternative to institutionalized racism as a young boy when a white priest tipped his hat to his mother, indicating that religion could play a role in social change.
After overcoming a severe case of tuberculosis, the young Desmond planned to study medicine and become a doctor, but a lack of money for tuition led him to study education and he became a teacher. However, he quit after three years to protest deteriorating standards for black students mandated under the Bantu Education Act, which reduced classroom work to three hours a day.
He subsequently earned a licentiate of theology in 1960 from St. Peter's Theological College in Rosettenville, South Africa, and a year later was ordained as an Anglican priest. In 1975, he became the first black Anglican dean of Johannesburg, South Africa, giving him an international platform in the anti-apartheid movement.
Each year, a nine-member panel chooses a living person who has made exceptional contributions to affirming life's spiritual dimension to receive the Templeton Prize.