On this morning after Christmas, we are heartbroken to learn of the passing of a true servant of God and of the people, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.

We have been fortunate enough to spend time with him on several occasions over the past few years. His courage and moral clarity helped inspire our commitment to change US policy toward the repressive apartheid regime in South Africa. We felt his warmth and joy when we visited him at the 2010 World Cup which celebrated the diversity and beauty of his beloved nation. And, just a few months ago, we joined the world in celebrating its 90e anniversary and reflecting on the power of its message of justice, equality, truth and reconciliation as we confront racism and extremism in our time today.

Born of a schoolteacher and a laundress and in poverty and rooted racial segregation, Desmond Tutu followed his spiritual vocation to create a better, freer and more egalitarian world. Its heritage transcends borders and will resonate through the ages.

On behalf of the Biden family, we extend our deepest condolences to his wife Leah and their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. And on behalf of the people of the United States, we extend our deepest condolences to the people of South Africa who mourn the loss of one of their most important Founding Fathers.

God bless Archbishop Desmond Tutu.