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Two Tutus preach forgiveness

April 25th, 2014
08:58 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Forgiveness: It was the Rainbow Nation's first miracle.

When South Africa emerged from apartheid twenty years ago, it was deeply scarred by decades of institutionalized racism, bigotry, and violence.

Vengeance would have been a natural desire.

But President Nelson Mandela had another idea: truth and reconciliation. Put the past out in the open, but forgive.

The healing power of memory

He chose Desmond Tutu, the Archbishop of Cape Town, to lead that effort.

Now, Tutu is taking his campaign for forgiveness to the internet - and the world. He is one of the world's undisputed heavyweight human rights champions, and he has never feared speaking truth to power.

He and his daughter, an Anglican priest, are launching an initiative to try another way of healing divisions – from personal grudges to global struggles.

“I wish we could have been able to have started this earlier,” Tutu told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday. “People have seen examples of what happens when you do forgive.”

One need look not just at South Africa, he said, but at the Good Friday Agreement that ended the strife in northern Ireland.

“The time is now. People are hurting. People tend when they have been hurt to want to hit back. And we are saying…’No future without forgiveness.’”

People from 118 countries have signed up to the Tutu’s Forgiveness Challenge.

“Each day you will have an email from us that will give you some pointers for things to do on that day,” Mpho Tutu, told Amanpour. “It's a thirty-day challenge. There are exercises and ways to engage with those who may have hurt you.”

Mpho Tutu herself has written about the struggle of forgiveness after her housekeeper was brutally murdered in her own house.

“Intellectually, I have forgiven, and I know this because I have no desire to exact retribution, nor do I wish them ill. The killer does not owe me anything,” she wrote. “Emotionally, I'm not quite there yet, because it still hurts, and I know there is still healing work to be done.”

Desmond Tutu, now Archbishop Emeritus, has never shied away from speaking his mind on big issues of the day.

He has been particularly outspoken on homosexuality.

“I cannot worship a homophobic God,” he once said, according to the BBC. “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say, 'Sorry.’ I mean, I would much rather go to the other place.”

From Nigeria to Uganda, many African governments – often with broad popular support – have been passing stringent laws banning homosexuality and imposing stiff penalties.

“Homophobia is something that characterizes not just Africa,” Desmond Tutu said. “In America you have had instances of people being killed because they were homosexuals.”

“We've also got to remember that these people, many of them are funded…by American conservatives who go into Africa and promise people all kinds of things; so that we need to be a little more careful.”

“We want to say remember that we are human together,” he said. “I need you to help me to become what God wants me to be, as you need me.”

Amanpour asked Mpho Tutu what she preaches from the pulpit about homosexuality.

“I say we can't preach love and hate at the same time,” she said. “We as human beings have tried, over the ages, to legislate love.”

“We've said that people of different races shouldn't be married. We've said that people of different economic classes shouldn't be married. We've said that people who are uneducated shouldn't marry people who are educated.”

“As we discover that it was impossible to legislate love between people of different races, it is impossible to legislate that people of the same gender not love each other.”

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