Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town was named the 2013 Templeton Prize winner Thursday.
The Huffington Post says the honor, which comes with a $1.7 million award, is given annually by the West Conshohocken, Penn.-based John Templeton Foundation. It has, in recent years, been awarded to academics who work at the nexus of religion and science.
The 2013 award was given to the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet. That award marked the first time in more than a decade that the Templeton Prize was given to an international spiritual and political figure, rather than a theologian or physicist.
Tutu is being awarded for his promotion of what the foundation calls “spiritual progress,” including love, forgiveness and human liberation, especially after the fall of apartheid when he chaired South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission addressed tensions between perpetrators of the apartheid state and reformers, and granted amnesty on both sides to hundreds of requests out of thousands that were submitted. It is considered key to the nation’s democratic transition in the 1990s.
“When you are in a crowd and you stand out from the crowd it’s usually because you are being carried on the shoulders of others,” Tutu said in response to receiving the prize in a video on the Templeton website. “I want to acknowledge all the wonderful people who accepted me as their leader at home and so to accept this prize, as it were, in a representative capacity.”
Tutu talks about the honor in this video:
The Templeton Prize was established in 1972 by the late Sir John Templeton, According to its website, the Prize honors a living person who “through insight, discovery, or practical works” is a “entrepreneur of the spirit.”
The Templeton Prize honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. Established in 1972 by the late Sir John Templeton, the Prize aims, in his words, to identify “entrepreneurs of the spirit”—outstanding individuals who have devoted their talents to expanding our vision of human purpose and ultimate reality. The Prize celebrates no particular faith tradition or notion of God, but rather the quest for progress in humanity’s efforts to comprehend the many and diverse manifestations of the Divine.
Men and women of any creed, profession, or national origin may be nominated for the Templeton Prize. The distinguished roster of previous winners includes representatives of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, but also others as well. The Prize has been awarded to scientists, philosophers, theologians, members of the clergy, philanthropists, writers, and reformers, for work that has ranged from the creation of new religious orders and social-spiritual movements to human sciences scholarship, to research about the fundamental questions of existence, purpose and the origins of the universe.
What these remarkable previous Laureates have shared is a commitment to exploring one or more of the Big Questions at the core of the John Templeton Foundation’s mandate for breakthroughs in discovery and outreach with direct or indirect relevance to “Spiritual Progress.”
Here the Archbishop speaks about “Our gratitude for God’s love.”