Pope Francis paid tribute to Nelson Mandela’s struggle to forge a just South Africa on Friday, praising the anti-apartheid hero’s commitment to non-violence, reconciliation and truth.
In a telegram sent to South African President Jacob Zuma the pontiff also praised the commitment shown by 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”, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.
“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,” Father Lombardi said, reading out the pope’s telegram.
“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,” he added.
The message came shortly before the pope held talks with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres at the Vatican.
The death of South Africa’s first black president aged 95 spurred an outpouring of sorrow from political leaders and ordinary people for the passing of one of the world’s most celebrated statesmen.

Friday 6 December 2013 21:53