"Evil, injustice, oppression, all of those awful things, they are not going to have the last word. Goodness, laughter, joy, caring, compassion, the things that you do and you help others do, those are going to prevail," said Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Geneva today.
The South African Nobel Peace Prize laureate was addressing ecumenical officers of churches from all over the world as well as staff from ecumenical organizations headquartered at Geneva's ecumenical centre.
Recalling the struggle against apartheid in his country, Tutu affirmed the empowerment felt by anti-apartheid activists when knowing that people all over the world were praying for them. "When you know someone is praying for you, in Alaska, by name, what chance does the apartheid government have?"
Tutu thanked the World Council of Churches (WCC) for its "costly solidarity" at the time of the anti-apartheid struggle. "We would not be free had not been for the steadfast support of the WCC, which cost the WCC a very big deal" he said.
Tutu advocates for HIV positive children
Later on the same day, Tutu addressed the 61st World Health Assembly taking place in Geneva from 19-24 May 2008. Holding up a t-shirt proclaiming "HIV Positive Kids Need Treatment," he highlighted the need to address the challenges faced in relation to HIV positive children. "Children are dying of easily preventable diseases," he added.
According to the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, almost 800 children die of AIDS-related illnesses every day. The latest figures from UNAIDS indicate that approximately 2.1 million children under 15 are living with HIV; nearly 90 percent of them live in sub-Saharan Africa.
At the World Health Assembly, Tutu affirmed the contribution of Christian organisations to international efforts for better health care: "Together WHO and WCC share a common mission to the world, protecting and restoring body, mind, and spirit," he said. "It is important that this is also the 40th anniversary of the Christian Medical Commission, whose values and experience in Primary Health Care informed and shaped the 1974 WHO Guidelines for Primary Health Care, which were reaffirmed at [the 1978 International Conference on Primary Health Care in] Alma Ata. You see, faith and health have been together a very long time."
Tutu served on the WCC staff as associate director of the Theological Education Fund from 1972-1975.
The WCC brought an ecumenical delegation of 118 representatives from grassroots and advocacy movements around the world to the World Health Assembly. This year's focus is on primary health care, public health, innovation and intellectual property, the rational use of medicines, alcoholism, and nutrition.
Download Desmond Tutu's speech at the Ecumenical Centre (MP3, 10,3 MB )