Friday, December 06, 2013

Nelson Mandela 'will inspire generations', says Pope Francis has paid tribute to Nelson Mandela and the sacrifice he made to build a new South Africa with reconciliation and truth at its heart.

The anti-apartheid hero and South Africa's first black president died on Thursday night at the age of 95.

In a telegram to South African President Jacob Zuma, the Pope extended his "prayerful condolences" to members of the Mandela family and the people of South Africa.

Pope Francis praised Mandela's "steadfast commitment" to promoting human dignity of all South Africans and "in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth".

Other Church leaders have also paid tribute to Mandela.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: "God was so good to us in South Africa by giving us Nelson Mandela to be our President at a crucial moment in our history. He inspired us to walk the path of forgiveness and reconciliation and so South Africa did not go up in flames. Thank you God, for this wonderful gift who became a moral colossus, a global icon of forgiveness and reconciliation. May he rest in peace and rise in glory."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby said Mandela challenged the world to "show the same degree of humanity, of courage and of generosity".

"Nelson Mandela, fighting to the end, is freed to be with his God in joy and reward for his great service and sacrifice," he said.

Neville Callam, General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, said the world had lost "a remarkable emancipator".

"Let us take time to ponder the legacy of this great world leader and let us be prepared, whatever the cost, to devote our lives to loving our neighbours, forgiving our enemies, and pursuing all that makes for justice and peace in our communities."

Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe, Secretary-General of the World Evangelical Alliance praised Mandela as a "model of courage, vision and personal sacrifice".

"Today more than ever we need this kind of leadership. May the memory of Nelson Mandela inspire a new generation of such leaders around the world," he said.

Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, called Nelson Mandela a leader with hard-won wisdom and maturity unparalleled in our time and said Mandela's life had been a gift to South Africa and the whole world.

"He will be recalled as the leader who acted to unify a nation once deliberately divided along the lines of race," he said.

"I am convinced that it is entirely accurate to say of him that his name 'will live beyond the grave and down the centuries.' Indeed, as is said in the Orthodox tradition of Christianity: May his memory be eternal!"

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