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Archbishop Tutu Delights Fordham Audience


A Beacon of Hope

Archbishop Desmond Tutu delighted a University crowd with a powerful and humorous presentation in accepting an honorary doctorate.

Jabulani, a South African choir, performed during the honorary doctorate presentation in the University Church and later in the McGinley Ballroom as part of Fordham’s Black History month celebration.
Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University, presenting an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters to Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
(from top left) Mark Chapman, Ph.D., chair of the African American Studies department; John Tognino, chair of the Fordham University Board of Trustees; Vincent J. Duminuco, S.J., rector of the Jesuit community; John Hollwitz, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs; (from left, bottom row) Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University; Grace Vernon, Ph.D., president of the Faculty Senate; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Nancy Busch, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Science; Mary Callaway, Ph.D., associate professor of theology.

Photos by Leo Sorel

The Most Reverend Desmond Mpilo Tutu, O.J., D.D., F.K.C., used Moses, Paul and a free South Africa to illustrate “God’s divine sense of humor” during a presentation on the Rose Hill campus on Feb. 23. Archbishop Tutu was on campus to receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

“In your long, nonviolent struggle against apartheid, you championed the dignity of the human person and revealed the nobility of the human heart,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University. “You also brought the Gospel to life in our times. You also showed us the power that the Gospel has for transforming the world, one heart, one soul at a time.”

Archbishop Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his efforts to end apartheid and served as chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, convened to expose and rectify acts of human injustice and to guide the country’s transition.

After receiving his honorary doctorate, Archbishop Tutu told the standing-room-only-crowd that God’s sense of humor is evident in some of His unexpected choices. For instance, he said, selecting Moses, a stammerer, to be his spokesperson; choosing Paul, who denied Christ three times, to be the rock on which to build his church; and allowing South Africa to become an example for the world.

“Who in his right mind would have set up South Africa to be a beacon of hope?” asked Archbishop Tutu. “Only someone with a huge sense of humor, with a hypersensitive funny bone in his makeup.

“God is saying to the world, ‘Look at them.’ They had a nightmare called apartheid. It has ended. Your nightmare—Northern Ireland, the Middle East, Sri Lanka, DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Darfur, Burma, Chechnya—too will end,” said Archbishop Tutu. “The lion will lie down again with the lamb. God dreams of a time when you and I and all of us will realize we belong together. We all belong to God’s family, where there are no outsiders.”

The victory of a free South Africa belongs to the world, said the Archbishop, because so many people fought to end apartheid. He applauded the audience for its support and said it is wonderful to return to communities he once asked for help with the message “Now we are free.”

The service concluded with a rousing vocal performance by Jabulani, a South African choir, which also performed a concert for students and staff following the ceremony in McGinley Ballroom.

— Suzanne Stevens

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