One glaring omission from Tutu tributes...

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WE WALKED together on the parkland grass, beneath our feet the remains of a great Roman city.

Crossing a bridge over a river, we made our way up a narrow road to the abbey on the crest of the hill.

On both sides of us were hundreds of people, cheering, clapping and reaching out their hands to get closer to my fellow walker, Desmond Tutu.

It was an extraordinary moment. A man, small in stature, who by his joy-filled sanctity and righteousness seemed to tug, like a magnet, at the souls of the onlookers.

I felt I was accompanying a living saint.

The media have covered the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu with proper recognition of his bravery in combating apartheid and his moral courage in chairing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

His contribution to resolving the terrible injustices of the pre-apartheid South African regime have led people to state he was a great champion of human rightsâ?¦ and so he was.

He stood up to injustice wherever it reared its ugly, monstrous head. Rightly, he is honoured as a giant of our times, a man whose integrity and strength gave succour and hope to millions.

However, in all the tributes to him, there has been a glaring omission. No-one has thought to ask what the driving force of his amazing life might have been.

Yet it was there in plain sight. It was his faith - his exploration of the truths revealed by Jesus Christ.

It was his rigorous, humble life as a disciple of Christ which led him to become the person he was.

You only had to see him on his knees in prayer, his head in his hands, to realise the energies and moral strength of his life drew their fiery inspiration from waiting daily in silence on God.

The Rt Rev Dr Christopher Herbert was vicar of The Bourne, near Farnham, from 1981 to 1990. He was made a Canon of Guildford Cathedral before becoming Archdeacon of Dorking in 1990, and Bishop of St Albans in 1996, retiring in 2009 after nearly 15 years in the role.

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