The delegate of Pope Francis to the funeral of former President Nelson Mandela has exhorted the world leaders to express in their leadership the values Mandela stood for. Speaking to Fr S’milo Mngadi, the Information Officer of the Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Peter Turkson said that it would be a pity if the world leaders travelled so far at such a great cost to their nations and still did not strive to live up to the standard that Mandela has set. He expressed sorrow that at least 11 African leaders were attempting to alter their countries’ constitution to allow their continued stay in power. Cardinal Turkson is the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. He stressed the importance of World Day of Peace (1 January) and the theme for 2014 which is “Fraternity, Foundation and Pathway to Peace.”
Cardinal Turkson will preside over the Mass in memory of President Mandela to be held at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, cnr Bosman and Nana Sita Streets, Pretoria. The Mass will be on Friday 13th at 5pm.
You are requested to ring your church bell in honor of the late former President Nelson Mandela at 12pm on Wednesday 11th December 2013.
Pope Francis has appointed Cardinal Peter Turkson as his special envoy to former President Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service on the 10th December 2013 at FNB Stadium, Johannesburg. Cardinal Turkson is the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Pope Francis sent a telegram to President Jacob Zuma. Below is the full text:
“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.”
We heard of the death of Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela with great sadness. Nonetheless we cannot help but call to mind the words of Scripture:
“Let us now sing the praises of famous men, great men in their generations….They ruled their governments wisely, were known for their valour. Their counsel displayed wisdom, they saw things from afar.” (Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3)
With these words we, the Catholic Church in Southern Africa, express our gratitude to uTata Mandela for the sacrifice he made for all peoples of South Africa and for the leadership and inspiration he gave in leading us on the path of reconciliation. He never compromised on his principles and vision for a democratic and just South Africa where all have equal opportunities, even at great cost to his own freedom. Despite great suffering throughout his life he did not answer racism with racism and his words at the treason trial still inspire:
“I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities”.
When Tata was released on 11th February 1990 the country was in turmoil and blood was being spilt almost daily. Through his leadership at that time, reinforced when he became President in 1994, he led the country on the path of reconciliation and peace, calling on South Africans to throw all arms of destruction into the sea. For this we shall always be indebted to him.
As with all people he made mistakes and had shortcomings – we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (cf. Romans 3:23). Thus, we commend him to the Lord and pray that he will rest in peace. May perpetual light shine on him.
We assure you, his family, friends and colleagues – as well as all South Africans – of our prayers for you and for our country. May you be consoled.
The greatest way we can acknowledge the life of Nelson Mandela is to strive for the ideals he cherished: freedom, equality and democracy, and to defend these ideals from those who would corrupt them.
Lala kakuhle Tata, sobonana kwelizayo.
Archbishop of Cape Town
President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference