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'Moral giant' Desmond Tutu's agenda still unsettles other leaders

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South Africans from all corners of retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu's “rainbow nation” filed past his plain pine casket by the hundreds on Friday to pay their respects to his life of activism for equality for all races, creeds and sexual orientations.

“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 St. George's 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.

More than 2,000 people visited the cathedral on the first day of viewing on Thursday and on Friday the line stretched nearly a mile. 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.

View a gallery from the cathedral at the end of this story.

African leaders are paying tribute to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu for his fearless campaign that helped end South Africa's brutal apartheid regime and bring democracy to the country.

But many of the same leaders have remained silent about the late Nobel Peace Prize winner's support for issues they're uncomfortable with, such as his support for LGBTQ rights, democratic freedoms and environmental issues.

And perhaps the most unsettled part of Tutu’s stellar legacy is South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It solicited searing testimonials of violence from both victims and perpetrators as a way to heal the country after apartheid ended in 1994, holding out the possibility of amnesty for those who confessed to human rights violations and showed remorse.

But its work was never fully completed. Many felt there was minimal accountability and the promised healing never materialized.


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