Forgiveness is Key to Reconciliation, Tutu Says at Cathedral

S. African Nobel Prize Winner Is Part of Centennial Celebration

Archbishop: Forgiveness is Key to Reconciliation By Jamisha Purdy

Taking slow small steps, he walked up to the podium. His dominant voice carried over a diverse audience of more than 1,000 people. Silence filled the room as he began to speak.

Indulging into his passion for reconciliation and peace, Archbishop Desmond Tutu explains “that without forgiveness there is no future” for humanity.

Held at the Washington National Cathedral, which is recognized as the National House of Prayer, Tutu’s speech was part of the cathedral’s centennial celebration. Tutu, former archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, author and long-time pioneer for racial equality, shared his thoughts on the spirituality of reconciliation.

“It is us that the ministry of reconciliation has been entrusted,” Tutu said. “We as ambassadors of Christ are each meant to contribute, to participate in Christ reconciling work.”

Tutu said that to achieve equality, people must understand their divine role and likeness to their creator. This is also Tutu’s reasoning behind why people must forgive.

“We were made to emulate God,” Tutu said. “We are in the forgiveness business because our God and God’s Christ are in the forgiving business.”

Tutu’s lecture highlighted one determining factor in achieving and understanding reconciliation through spirituality – forgiveness.

“In forgiving we’re engaging in not just a mundane act,” Tutu said. “We’re sharing in the divine enterprise with cosmic consequences to advance … the work of bringing all things to a unity in Christ. We are involved in recreating the universe.”

No matter the trespass, Tutu said that people should always be able to forgive. It’s the only way to uncover the “Christian harmony that was intended from the beginning,” he continued.

Referencing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in the Bible, Tutu said that people should adopt the same “compassion” that Jesus displayed while on the cross when he prayed for those who persecuted him.

“When we forgive it is that we are wonderfully hopeful. Forgiving refuses to give up on anyone,” Tutu said. “It provides the perpetrator … with yet another chance to make a new beginning.”

Susan Larson, a regular congregant of the Cathedral said that Tutu’s lecture was “focused and practical.”In describing her respect for the work of the Nobel Prize winner, Larson said that his speech really “struck” her.

“Our only hope as humanity is reconciliation, which is ultimately demonstrated to us by God through Jesus Christ,” Larson said. “He brings it to the point we are asked to be like God in forgiving not because were are forgetting but because we see that there is a potential in every one of us.”

Tutu spoke at lectures all week at the Cathedral, which just opened up a new Community of Reconciliation, “an emerging network of individuals who seek radical balance in life and reconciliation in the world.”

“Forgiveness is not for sissies,” Tutu said. “Forgiveness stares the beast in the eye. Forgiveness is confrontationally, to name the hurt … and then to refuse to retaliate. It is not retributive but restorative. It seeks not to punish but to heal.”

“For without forgiveness there is no future,” he adds, repetitively. “There is no future between communities and between nations.”