The Jan. 1 funeral mass for Desmond M. Tutu, the first Black archbishop of Cape Town, will be limited to 100 people because of pandemic restrictions in South Africa.
The archbishop’s remains will be cremated, and his ashes interred at his former church, St. George’s Cathedral, church leaders said during a news briefing on Monday.
The public viewing will be regulated by social distancing rules, in addition to the limited attendance at the funeral mass, where family members and clerics will take precedence on the small guest list, church leaders said.
Coronavirus cases rose exponentially in the country after the detection of the Omicron variant in southern Africa in November. Fortunately, the rates of hospitalizations and death from Covid-19 have not kept pace and cases seem to have peaked in the epicenter of the outbreak, Gauteng Province.
“Please don’t get into a bus to Cape Town,” said Thabo Makgoba, the current archbishop. “We will have to be pastoral and firm and encourage people to watch from home.”
The bells of St. George’s Cathedral rang out on Monday as South Africans began a week of mourning for the cleric, who succumbed on Sunday to cancer at a care facility in Cape Town. One of the most powerful voices in the anti-apartheid movement — and a moral conscience in the decades after the system of institutionalized segregation crumbled in South Africa — his death has been met with an outpouring of tributes in South Africa and from around the world.
The bells of his former church will toll for 10 minutes at noon every day this week, until the funeral mass on Saturday.