Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, has been awarded the 2013 Templeton Prize for his lifelong work in advancing spiritual principles such as love and forgiveness which has helped to liberate people around the world.
Tutu followed two theological concepts: the Latin Imago Dei in which all human beings are shaped in the image of God, and the traditional African Ubuntu in which people can only achieve humanity through helping others. His work combined these two concepts to create “a delicate network of interdependence.”
Tutu rose to world prominence with his opposition to South Africa’s apartheid regime. His broad calls to common humanity began in the 1970s, when Tutu used positions within the church to focus global attention on the apartheid policies of South Africa’s ruling minority. After Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 and subsequent election as president in the country’s first multi-ethnic democratic elections, Tutu chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission employing a revolutionary and relentless policy of confession, forgiveness and resolution that helped shepherd his nation from institutionalized racial repression toward an egalitarian democracy.
His deep faith and commitment to prayer and worship provides the foundation for his message of love and forgiveness. He has created that message through extensive contemplation of such profound “big questions” as “Do we live in a moral universe?” and “What is humanity’s duty to reflect and live God’s purposes?”
Last year’s winner was the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader whose long-standing engagement with multiple dimensions of science and with people far beyond his own religious traditions has made him a global voice for universal ethics, nonviolence, and harmony among world religions.
At $1.7 million, the prize is the world’s largest annual monetary award given to an individual and honors a living person who has made exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.