In Memory of Nelson Mandela

A stained-glass depiction of former South African president Nelson Mandela at Regina Mundi Church in Soweto, South Africa (CNS/Reuters/Siphiwe Sibek)
Mandela was ever-mindful of church role in South Africans' struggle [Winnie Graham in Johannesburg is a retired Catholic assistant editor of The Kansas City Star. Graham was a young reporter when Nelson Mandela was charged with sabotage October 1963. Her husband was one of a team to cover the famous trial. She was at The Star when Mandela was released in 1990 and this year, her journalist son, Stuart, will cover his funeral.]

It was with sadness that I learned of the death of former President Nelson Mandela, and I send prayerful condolences to all the Mandela family, to the members of the Government and to all the people of South Africa. In commending the soul of the deceased to the infinite mercy of Almighty God, I ask the Lord to console and strengthen all who mourn his loss. Paying tribute to the steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation’s citizens and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth, I pray that the late President’s example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations. With these sentiments, I invoke upon all the people of South Africa divine gifts of peace and prosperity.
Pope Francis December 6 2013

pope mandela
Nelson Mandela welcomed Pope John Paul II to South Africa in 1995, and was appreciative of their mutual concern for the poor, commitment to equality, and undying fight for liberation from oppression. On the occasion of Pope John Paul II's funeral, Mandela said, "Pope John Paul II was a consistent voice articulating the need for moral regeneration and caring for the poor and marginalized."

Mandela; National Catholic Reporter