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Archbishop Tutu Speaks Out on Church-State Relations

Posted on: October 21, 1997 2:24 PM
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Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has warned that Churches must not be the "lap-dog" of the state.

Former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and now chairman of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Desmond Tutu said that Churches must always reserve the right to be "in critical solidarity" with the state.

Archbishop Tutu, who became famous internationally for his vocal opposition to apartheid, was speaking at the opening day of the All Africa Conference of Churches' (AACC) 7th general assembly, being held in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, from 4 to 10 October.

The AACC is one of the world's biggest regional ecumenical bodies, bringing together 142 Churches from across the continent. More than 300 voting delegates are gathered in Addis Ababa, as well as another 500 observers, many of them representing Churches and related agencies outside Africa.

Archbishop Tutu, AACC's president, made his remarks in reply to the welcoming speech by Ethiopia's president, Dr Negasso Gidada.

Thanking Churches around the world for their past assistance to Ethiopia, Dr Gidada encouraged Africa's Churches to use their moral and spiritual authority to enhance development and teach toleration and common understanding.

Declaring that the international community was not doing enough to help Africa eradicate poverty, hunger and disease, President Gidada said the Churches were called upon to exert maximum efforts towards the mobilisation of resources from inside and outside Africa.

Archbishop Tutu praised President Gidada's vision, but warned that uncritical cooperation with the state was a trap for Churches. "A Church that agrees to be co-opted into the government system is a lap-dog and is not a Church of God," he said.

The Archbishop reminded the President and AACC delegates that the Church was created not to do the will of the state but to carry out "the will of God".