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Desmond Mpilo Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus, was ordained to the priesthood in 1961. Over the years, he served in a number of increasingly prominent positions. In 1978, in the wake of the 1976 Soweto uprising, Bishop Tutu was persuaded to take up the post of General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, a position that established him as a national and international figure.
He became a prominent leader in the crusade for justice and racial conciliation in South Africa; his extraordinary contributions to this cause earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. Elevated to Archbishop of Cape Town in 1986, he became the principal mediator and conciliator in the transition to democracy in South Africa. In December 1995, President Nelson Mandela appointed him to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission a body set up to probe gross human rights violations during the apartheid era. This Commission and the role played by Archbishop Tutu, was a crucial component in the transition to a free democracy in South Africa.
Archbishop Tutu has held several distinguished academic and world leadership posts, has received many prizes and awards, and holds honorary degrees from more than 130 universities, including Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge and Columbia.
Today Archbishop Tutu is regarded as an elder world statesman with a major role to play in reconciliation and as a leading moral voice. He has become an icon of hope far beyond the Church and Southern Africa. Throughout his life, he has been known preeminently as a spiritual leader caring deeply about the needs of people around the world, teaching love and compassion to all.