Anglican Father Michael Lapsley Anglican Father Michael Lapsley 

Fr. Michael Lapsley: 2022 Niwano Peace Prize winner

The Vatican’s Flaminia Giovanelli is one of the members of the Niwano Peace Prize Committee that has chosen Anglican Father Michael Lapsley to be the 2022 recipient of its prestigious Prize for his “relentless struggle against apartheid and social discriminations, his support for the liberation movement in South Africa and for his peacebuilding activities.” In this Vatican Radio interview he speaks of his journey from victim to survivor to victor.

By Linda Bordoni

The Niwano Peace Prize Committee has chosen Anglican missionary priest and social justice and anti-apartheid activist, Michael Lapsley, to receive the 2022 Niwano Peace Prize.

The award honours and encourages individuals and organizations that have contributed significantly to inter-religious cooperation, furthering the cause of world peace.

In a statement on Monday, the Committee writes that “Father Lapsley’s non-violent, multi-faith peacebuilding efforts and activities of healing based on restorative justice, dialogue, and reconciliation are continuing to contribute to the healing of South Africans as well as many others all over the world.”

Father Lapsley receives the Prize during the presentation ceremony in Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday, 14 June 2022.

Audience with Pope Francis

Fr Lapsley is a man whose personal story speaks of life-giving peace and forgiveness and service to others. He was received in private audience by Pope Francis, on 15 June 2019, and during that audience, he had the opportunity to talk to the Pope about his experiences and work for healing and reconciliation.

In their comments, members of the Niwano Peace Prize Committee that presently consists of nine religious leaders from various parts of the world, describe Father Lapsley as being a powerful witness of healing and reconciliation: “ [He] lost both hands and one eye. He did not become bitter. Rather he not only carried on his struggle, he set about working on healing and reconciliation. His work focuses on healing across all sorts of divides. He saw injustice and he fought it. He saw damage and he has strived to heal it.”

Vatican member of Niwano Peace Prize Committee 

Flaminia Giovanelli, Under-Secretary of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development is part of the Committee. She writes that “Father Lapsley has fought apartheid, which is one of the most striking forms of a hateful and painful phenomenon such as racial or ethnic discrimination. By doing so he has earned the esteem and respect of black South Africans of all religions. This commitment… was the cause of a very serious attempt on his life… gravely injured him, he lost both hands, the sight of one eye, and was severely burned. But a few years later, this attack also provoked a real transformation in him, a conversion, from… freedom fighter to healer and reconciler. This shows that in addition to exercising the virtue of fortress, thanks to which he has endured the very serious consequences of the attack suffered, Father Lapsley also exercises the virtue of humility. In his commitment, he has met and collaborated with people of different religious beliefs to lead them to peace of heart.”

Father Michael Lapsley is someone whose story speaks of just that: life-giving-peace and forgiveness and service to others.

In an interview with Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni in 2012, he told his story of survival, reconciliation and speaks of his mission as founder of the Institute for Healing Memories which is based in South Africa, but that reaches across the world advocating forgiveness, reconciliation and restorative justice.

Listen to Fr Michael Lapsley

From victim to survivor to victor

In his own words, he then undertook another journey from victim to survivor to victor helped by the prayers, love and support of people who knew him all over the world.

This gave him the strength and the inspiration to create the Institute for Healing Memories that seeks to accompany other people on their journeys to healing and wholeness, both in South Africa and in many other countries where war, oppression and conflict have created suffering

The Niwano Peace Foundation

The Niwano Peace Foundation was chartered in 1978 to contribute to the realization of world peace and the enhancement of a culture of peace, promoting research and other activities based on the spirit of religious principles and serves the cause of peace in such fields as education, science, religion and philosophy.

Former recipients of the Prize include Paulo Evaristo Cardinal Arns, The Community of Sant’Egidio, Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan.

21 February 2022, 14:12