Guest Author - Rev. Jackie OŽNeal S.T.M.
The Hollywood actress, Angelina Jolie reached top status in the Reuter's poll which identified her as the best celebrity humanitarian of 2007.
According to some of her supporters, Jolie gets credit for being "low-key" in the sense that she does not travel with film crews, and demonstrates her integrity by making it obvious to observers that publicity is not her main goal.
Other celebrities have not been ranked as highly, nor have won as much favor with the public. Madonna became the target of strong criticism for allegedly having used her celebrity to expedite a recent African adoption process.
Bishop Desmond Tutu should certainly have been at the top of the list. His dedication to humanitarian causes spans decades.On the other hand, Jolie began her humanitarian career in 2001. Needless to say, there is no comparison. How is it possible that a Hollywood celebrity can get more credit than the Church? Further, Bishop Tutu has given his life to South Africa and the Church- he's always on duty. Despite his celebrity, he's extemely accessible to the public. Jolie may be a step or two above Madonna, or Paris Hilton, but Bishop Desmond Tutu?
Here is a sampling on how some other celebrities fared as drawn from Reuters:
Q: Who gave the best name to "celebrity humanitarianism" in 2007?
1. Angelina Jolie
The actress has visited more than 20 humanitarian hot spots including Iraq and Darfur since becoming a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. refugee agency in 2001. On a trip to Iraq in August, she appealed for international aid to help millions of displaced Iraqis. Jolie has three adopted children -- from Ethiopia, Cambodia and Vietnam.
The U2 singer and "Red" campaigner has been a tireless voice in the fight against HIV/AIDS, extreme poverty and crippling debt.
3. Desmond Tutu
The apartheid opponent and Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been a constant advocate of conflict resolution and reconciliation. This year he won India's Gandhi Peace Prize and has been a vocal critic of the South African government's response to HIV/AIDS. He is leader of "The Elders", a humanitarian council made up of elder statesmen.
4. Bill Gates
The Microsoft founder and world's second-richest man has poured money into the fight against infectious diseases such as AIDS and malaria. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated $3.5 billion since 2003, according to BusinessWeek.
5. Bill Clinton
The former U.S. president's foundation tackles causes from HIV/AIDS to ethnic conflict. He holds an annual philanthropic summit that this year generated pledges to combat health, poverty, education and climate woes that he said could help 100 million people. His new book is titled "GIVING: How Each of Us Can Change the World".
Q: Who gave celebrity humanitarianism the worst name?
Despite controversy surrounding her adoption of a Malawian "orphan" last year, Madonna has been lauded by Malawi's government for putting the plight of AIDS orphans on the global stage and raising money to help them.
2. Paris Hilton
After spending 45 days in jail this year for violating probation on a traffic offense, Hilton announced she planned to swap partying for philanthropy with a trip to Rwanda. The trip was later postponed.
3. Oprah Winfrey
America's highest-paid TV celebrity has used her Oprah's Angel Network charity to support vulnerable people worldwide and AIDS-affected children in Africa. The former Bob Hope Humanitarian Award winner is ranked 35th in BusinessWeek's ranking of most generous philanthropists. But her girls' academy in South Africa made headlines this year when a former dormitory matron was charged with abusing students.
Source: Reuters AlertNet (www.alertnet.org) (Reporting by Tim Large; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith and Eric Walsh)