Mandela 1

This is what I put on the SEC website yesterday

The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church says “To stand in the tiny cell which Nelson Mandela occupied for so many years was to wonder – to wonder how he could have emerged from such confinement with a warm personality and a generous and forgiving spirit. In the death of Nelson Mandela, the world has lost its greatest statesman. South Africa has lost a father figure, the founder of the post-apartheid nation. People everywhere who dream of peace and reconciliation mourn a person who showed that such dreams can become reality – but a reality born only of costly suffering and forgiveness.

“We give thanks today for Nelson Mandela and what he taught a troubled world through the depth of his character and his humility. We share the sadness of all who mourn his loss today – particularly with rainbow peoples of South Africa.

“May he rest in peace.”

Mandela was of course a particular hero of mine – because I was looking at events in South Africa from the perspective of Northern Ireland. He was the living embodiment of the belief that faith, spirituality, strength of character, generosity ….. could bring resolution to deep seated problems. But I remain puzzled and troubled by one question. Out of the mean-spiritedness and violence of apartheid arose the towering figures of Mandela, Tutu and de Klerk – people who appeared to meet the hour. But, with the greatest respect to many in Northern Ireland who lived sacrificial lives and did extraordinary things, the mean-spiritedness of Northern Ireland’s sectarianism did not produce people of similar stature. The late Seamus Heaney was an exception with a voice which both spoke to and transcended the limitations of context,