Washington D.C., Dec 7, 2013 / 01:14 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Church leaders in the United States offered prayers for the late Nelson Mandela, remembering both his courageous anti-apartheid leadership and his promotion of one of the world’s most liberal abortion laws.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, called Mandela “a hero to the world.”
“His bravery in defending human rights against the great evil of apartheid made him a symbol of courage and dignity, as well as an inspiration to people everywhere.”
He noted that Bl. John Paul II, in his visit to South Africa, called Mandela “a silent and suffering ‘witness’” of his people’s “yearning for true liberation.” The Pope had said Mandela had to “shoulder the burden of inspiring and challenging everyone to succeed in the task of national reconciliation and reconstruction.”
Carolyn Woo, president of Catholic Relief Services, said the U.S.-based international relief agency mourns Mandela’s passing, calling him “a champion in the struggle for justice and equality for all.”
“His life inspires all of us to re-dedicate ourselves to helping the oppressed find their voice and their way to lives of meaning and dignity. His personal example of forgiveness and non-violence will challenge us to work for peace and reconciliation even in the midst of deep conflict.”
Mandela, who served as South Africa’s president from 1994 to 1999, died Dec. 5 at the age of 95 of a lung infection. The former prisoner won world recognition for opposing the oppressive racial segregation of the South African government’s apartheid policy.
Mandela had been a campaigner against apartheid since 1952, when he organized protests across South Africa against the policy. He was arrested on treason charges in 1956, and acquitted after a five-year trial. He then secretly sought help from other African nations and in England.
After the South African government banned the party in 1960, the movement against apartheid became an armed struggle led by Mandela. In 1962 he was sentenced to five years in jail for inciting a strike and for leaving the country without a passport. Additional charges of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government in 1964 led to a sentence of 27 years behind bars.
Mandela’s then-wife Winnie and other campaigners worked to end apartheid and secure his freedom, helping transform him into an icon of human rights. He was released in 1990. In 1993, he won the Nobel Peace Prize with white South African president F. W. (Read More)