Biden’s response came late on Sunday afternoon, well after many world leaders had already paid their respects to the late Archbishop. Desmond Tutu was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his non-violent opposition to apartheid in South Africa.
In a tweet just after 3:30 PM, Biden wrote, “Today, we are heartbroken to learn of the passing of a true servant of God and of the people, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. We send our deepest condolences to the people of South Africa who are mourning this great loss.”
White House Releases Official Statement From President Joe Biden And First Lady Jill Biden
Although the tweet was short and to the point, the White House issued a formal statement regarding his passing that was much longer.
“On this morning after Christmas, we are heartbroken to learn of the passing of a true servant of God and of the people, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa,” the statement began.
“We were blessed to spend time with him on several occasions over the past many years,” they continued. “His courage and moral clarity helped inspire our commitment to change American policy toward the repressive Apartheid regime in South Africa.”
“We felt his warmth and joy when we visited him during the 2010 World Cup that celebrated the diversity and beauty of his beloved nation,” they shared. “And, just a few months ago, we joined the world in celebrating his 90th birthday and reflecting on the power of his message of justice, equality, truth, and reconciliation as we confront racism and extremism in our time today.”
“Born to a school teacher and a laundress and into poverty and entrenched racial segregation, Desmond Tutu followed his spiritual calling to create a better, freer, and more equal world,” they added. “His legacy transcends borders and will echo throughout the ages.”
“On behalf of the Biden family, we send our deepest condolences to his wife Leah and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” they continued. “And on behalf of the people of the United States, we send our deepest condolences to the people of South Africa who are mourning the loss of one of their most important founding fathers.”
“May God bless Archbishop Desmond Tutu,” they concluded.
White House Honors Desmond Tutu’s Birthday Earlier This Year
This isn’t the first time this year that the White House has honored Desmond Tutu in a formal statement. On October 7, 2021, the White House issued a formal statement to celebrate Desmond Tutu’s birthday.
“I send my best wishes to Archbishop Desmond Tutu on his 90th birthday and join the world in celebrating his life of service and contributions to humanity,” the message began.
“I’ve been honored to meet and spend time with Archbishop Tutu on several occasions over the years, and like so many others, I am inspired by his personal commitment to championing human rights and to always speaking out for what is right,” Biden continued.
“The world first came to know Archbishop Tutu as he modeled the highest tenets of his faith in challenging the injustice of Apartheid in South Africa,” he added. “His courage and moral clarity at that time helped inspire my own commitment as a United States Senator to change American policy toward the Apartheid regime in South Africa. And in the years since, the world has continued to learn from Archbishop Tutu’s message of justice, equality, and reconciliation.”
He concluded his message by saying, “In honor of Archbishop Tutu, let us all recommit ourselves to the work that has animated his life: advancing respect for human rights, strengthening equality, protecting fundamental freedoms, and fighting for racial justice, both at home and around the world.”