Desmond Tutu makes headlines, and often changes hearts and minds. In the fall of 2005, the headlines were made in Belfast, where Tutu, former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, was filming Facing the Truth, three programs for the Northern Irish BBC that aired in Britain on three consecutive days in March of this year.
The hearts and minds belong to those who suffered and to those who caused suffering during “the Troubles,” the period of violent conflict in Northern Ireland beginning with the civil rights marches in the late 1960s and continuing to the political resolution enshrined in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. More than 3,000 people were killed during the Troubles, most of them civilians. For the BBC programs the victims or families of the victims were invited to confront either the perpetrator or someone associated with the organization that had sanctioned, planned and accomplished the killing or injury.
Ronald A. Wells, professor emeritus of history at Calvin College, directs the Symposium on Faith and the Liberal Arts at Maryville College in Tennessee. He is a member at the Church of the Ascension (Episcopal) in Knoxville, Tennesse. His most recent book is Hope and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland.