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Tutu Expresses Shame at Anglican Church

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in the first authorized biography of the Nobel peace laureate, said he was ashamed of his Anglican Church's conservative position that rejected g
( [email protected] ) Sep 23, 2006 12:25 PM EDT

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in the first authorized biography of the Nobel peace laureate, said he was ashamed of his Anglican Church's conservative position that rejected gay priests.

In the book "Rabble-Rouser for Peace," by his former press secretary, John Allen, Tutu also criticized the last apartheid president, F.W. de Klerk, for not accepting accountability for apartheid atrocities. He said the failure caused him to regret having nominated de Klerk, along with Nelson Mandela, for their 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.

Excerpts from the book were scheduled to be appear in South Africa on Friday and the biography was scheduled for release in time for Tutu's 75th birthday on Oct. 7.

The retired archbishop was critical of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams for bowing on the gay priest issue to conservative elements, particularly African bishops, in the 77-million member Anglican Church that includes Episcopalians in the United States.

In a 1998 letter to Williams predecessor, Archbishop George Carey, Tutu wrote that he was "ashamed to be Anglican." It came after the Lambeth Conference of Bishops rejected the ordination of practicing homosexuals saying their sexual relations were "incompatible with scripture."

Tutu also said he was deeply saddened at the furor caused by the appointment of openly gay V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.

"He found it little short of outrageous that church leaders should be obsessed with issues of sexuality in the face of the challenges of AIDS and global poverty," wrote Allen.

Tutu's criticism of de Klerk stems from when Tutu was chairman of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which offered perpetrators of apartheid crimes amnesty if they told the truth about their activities. During the hearings, Tutu sometimes wept along with the victims of human rights abuses.

Allen wrote that the process left Tutu disappointed with some political leaders, particularly de Klerk, who he believed had not accepted accountability for apartheid atrocities.

In response to a request for his reaction to the book, de Klerk said Allen had tried to be fair in reporting on the tensions between him and Tutu, recording the steps taken to address the violence and saying no evidence implicated the president in the violence.

De Klerk said he regrets the antipathy that Tutu subsequently developed for him and that their relationship has mellowed with time. He said he had the greatest respect for Tutu and for the constructive role he often played.