10 Questions for Desmond Tutu

The South African Archbishop's new book makes the case for goodness. Desmond Tutu will now take your questions

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Stephen Voss / Redux

Desmond Tutu

After all you've seen and endured, are you really as optimistic as your book, Made for Goodness, says you are?

Zelalem Dawit, ADDIS ABABA

I'm not optimistic, no. I'm quite different. I'm hopeful. I am a prisoner of hope. In the world, you have very bad people--Hitler, Idi Amin--and they look like they are going to win. All of them--all of them--have bitten the dust.

Africa has been given a single story line, where all we hear of from the media is hunger, civil war and corruption. How can younger generations correct this misperception?

Anwar Hussaini Adamu


Well, part of it is true. You have bad governments. But we have good governments too. We have the world's icon--Nelson Mandela. But as I always say, Europe gives me a great deal of hope. They produced a Holocaust. They produced two world wars. They produced the gulags. Sometimes people forget that in South Africa, we've been free for only about 16 years, and they're expecting miracles from us. We're not doing too badly.

Do you support the appointment of gay and lesbian clergy?

Phillip Reinheimer


Of course. If I don't support them, why support the appointment of any other person? Their sexuality is as much a part of who they are as my race is. They don't choose it. I don't choose it. Two of my chaplains when I was Archbishop were gay. One is now a bishop, and the other is the dean of a cathedral.

Have you ever had doubts about your faith?

Michael Stanley, LONDON

Doubts? No. Anger with God? Yes. Plenty of that. I've remonstrated with God quite frequently and said, "What the heck are you up to? Why are you letting these oppressors get away with this injustice?" But doubting that God is good? That God is love? No.

What advice do you have for those trying to rebuild Haiti?

Allison Hagen


First, I would say to them, Thank you for showing so much of your compassion. But I would say, especially to the people of Haiti, Your country has been destroyed, but it is also a chance to make a new beginning. Have a government that cares for the welfare of its people and not for lining its own pockets. An awful thing has happened, but we can squeeze a benefit out of it.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Fanice Thomas, MINNEAPOLIS

Becoming a father. The day I was told our son, who was our first, was born, I felt a little like God. Wonderful.

What is your favorite Bible verse, and why?

Satu Rahikainen


Romans 5: 8. "Whilst we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." It sums up the Gospel wonderfully. We think we have to impress God so that God could love us. But he says, No, you are loved already, even at your worst.

As chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, did you feel you did enough to help South Africa move past that dark chapter in its history?

Bemgba Nyakuma


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