CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — South Africans of all walks of life are paying their respects to Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Anglican archbishop whose plain pine casket is on view Friday in St. George's Anglican Cathedral in Cape Town.
“He was a moral giant. He was a moral and spiritual giant loved and revered for fighting for equality for all people,” said the Rev. Michael Lapsley, on the steps of the historic stone cathedral after Tutu's coffin was carried in amid music, incense and prayers.
Anglican clergy — women and men, Black and white, young and old — lined the street to honor the cortege carrying Tutu's body to the church. Members of the Tutu family accompanied the casket into the cathedral.
People began filing through the lofty cathedral to light candles and view the small, simple coffin with rope handles which Tutu had said he wanted to avoid any ostentation or lavish expenditure. Many sat in the pews to pray and reflect on Tutu's life.
More than 2,000 people visited the cathedral on the first day of viewing on Thursday. A requiem mass for Tutu will be held on New Year's Day before he is cremated and his remains placed in a columbarium in the cathedral.
“His work did not stop with the end of apartheid,” Lapsley said, in reference to South Africa's regime of racial oppression which Tutu prominently opposed and which ended in 1994 when South Africa held democratic elections.
“Archbishop Tutu bravely championed the equality of all people. He transformed the church by bringing women into the clergy. He championed the LGBTQ community for whom he is a hero all over the world,” said Lapsley, Canon of Healing at the cathedral.
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