Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu is this year’s Templeton Prize winner for his work in advancing the ideals of love and understanding.
The retired archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, will receive about $1.7 million.
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.
he archbishop was born 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 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.
He subsequently earned a licentiate of theology and a year later was ordained as an Anglican priest. In 1975, he became the first black Anglican dean of Johannesburg, 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.