Archbishop Desmond Tutu defended the fact that “when large majority of citizens acts with common purpose to achieve a righteous objective, it becomes an irresistible force”. Tutu was awarded the XXVI Catalonia International Prize, which he accepted in person during the ceremony celebrated in the Palace of the Government of Catalonia.
The president of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, asserted that “given the challenges we have, it is good to keep in mind that […] agreement and consensus are preferable to unilateral decisions”. To this, Mas added that “negotiations always have to be undertaken with a broad perspective and everyone must work towards a common good, because the concept [of common good] is preferable to any other kind of solution”.
The head of the Catalan Executive described Catalonia as a country which has been able to preserve its own culture and language throughout the years and therefore, has “a cultural identity and not one based on other factors”; “a country,” he went on to say, “which is used to welcome people, diverse in origins, mixed and more in tune with a common objective than it is with being worried about the diversity of its roots”. A country, he added, with “a dynamic civil society, powerful and organized, which is a sign of its own identity and a rich social fabric that during the difficult moments, works at full capacity”.
“This is a country demanding the right to decide its own future and to be able to vote on November 9th”, Mas announced, insisting that “we want to do so entirely pacifically, because that is the common denominator in most of Catalonia’s social movements”.
The president of the Catalan Government pointed out that among the reasons for awarding the Catalonia International Prize to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was the fact that “he has always defended just and noble causes all over the world”, and he has done so “with both, words and actions”. “Desmond Tutu is in the same category with those who prefer doing good rather than those who appear doing it, and he has chosen to stand with people who suffer injustice” announced the President.
Artur Mas noted that the prize was awarded “with the objective of appreciating and recognizing those who help humanity advance” to which he added, “so that we as a people can learn from these important individuals to better ourselves”.
Defending the Catalans’ right to self-determination
Before the President’s speech, Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke a few words in appreciation of the prize, accepting it on behalf of the magnificent group “of socially conscious people, of activists fighting for the common good of human beings and our world”, and among these, in particular “those involved in saving girls from being trapped in abusive marriages in sub-Saharan Africa”, “those in the medical field supporting and caring for refugees in Syria”, and the “extraordinary women who wipe children’s tears, orphaned by AIDS in my own country of South Africa”.
Tutu added that he also accepted the prize in the name of “those in support the right of the Catalan people, and citizens of other territories, to peacefully determine their own destiny”, and that when a significant mass of citizens of any region or nation act with common purpose to achieve a righteous objective “those seeking to stop them may succeed for a while, at great cost, but will inevitably discover that resistance is futile”. (Full speech attached below)
Before the award ceremony, President Mas and Desmond Tutu met for a half hour in the Palau de la Generalitat. Also present during the ceremony were the President of the Parliament of Catalonia, Núria de Gispert, the Archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Lluís Martínez-Sistach, and the president delegate of the Catalonia International Prize, Xavier Rubert de Ventós. Other members of the Executive Council attending the ceremony included Vice-President Joana Ortega, the Minister of Home Affairs, Ramon Espadaler and the Minister of Education, Irene Rigau.
Minutes of the Jury
The Jury for the Prize decided last month to award the XXVI Catalonia International Prize to Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu “for his vigorous and constant struggle for social justice and work to better the condition of the oppressed, with exceptional ability, courage and integrity”.
The members of the jury also took into account the fact that since apartheid was abolished in South Africa, he has been one of the most active protagonists in the defence of human rights around the world as well as being involved in campaigns against AIDS, tuberculosis, poverty, racism, sexism, and homophobia. Considered the moral conscience of South Africa as well as an icon of hope in the Church, Tutu is considered a statesman of the old world with a vital role today in the reconciliation between peoples.
The International Prize of Catalonia, created by the Government of Catalonia in 1989 is awarded annually to those whom have made important contributions with their work in the development of cultural, scientific or human values all over the world. The entries for 26th Prize began on July 2nd and went on until December 31st, 2013 (Resolution PRE/1409/2013, published in the DOGC number 6408) The Jury considered 162 entries from 51 countries. These, in turn, were nominated by the members of the same Jury along with 187 institutions from 43 different countries.