South Africa's Desmond Tutu retires from public life

Thu Oct 7, 2010 3:06pm EDT
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By Jon Herskovitz

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, who used his church pulpit as a platform to help bring down apartheid, officially retired from public duties Thursday.

Tutu, whose last major appearances came this summer when South Africa hosted the soccer World Cup, said shortly after he would step out of the spotlight to spend more time at home with his family.

U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement: "For decades he has been a moral titan, a voice of principle, an unrelenting champion of justice, and a dedicated peacemaker.

"We will miss his insight and his activism, but will continue to learn from his example. We wish the archbishop and his family happiness in the years ahead," Obama said.

Tutu was out of the country on a cruise.

The congenial Tutu said in July in a televised news conference he would step away from public life when he turned 79 on Oct 7.

"The time has now come to slow down, to sip Rooibos tea with my beloved wife in the afternoons, to watch cricket, to travel to visit my children and grandchildren, rather than to conferences and conventions and university campuses," Tutu said.

Tutu, who retired more than a decade ago from his post as the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, has established a peace foundation and advised political leaders.   Continued...

<p>Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa speaks during the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen in this December 15, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Bob Strong</p>