The Bishop on Nelson Mandela

A letter from the Bishop Regarding the Legacy of 
Nelson Mandela
My Sisters and Brothers,

Several years ago I, and others from this diocese, were present when Archbishop Desmond Tutu received an honorary degree from Fordham University.  At the event, a chorus of singers from South Africa performed several pieces.  As a refrain to one of those songs was the singing/shouting of the name “Mandela!  Mandela! Mandela!” over and over and over again.  I will never forget the love, the gratitude, the hope, and the profound human longing conveyed by the extended repeated recitation of that name.  

In our own day and lives we have seen the extreme subjugation of people and the most vicious racial hatred and violence of South Africa give way to one of the most sublime witnesses to peace and reconciliation, and to the highest aspirations of the human character. The people of that land, rising from oppression, have demonstrated before the world the power of godly reconciliation to overcome hatred and retribution.  And that witness has kept hope alive across the globe in places where violence is the daily bread and the divisions among peoples are most intractable.  Behind South Africa’s transformation, and at the center of those miracles and wonders were and are many remarkable men and women.  But few inspired the loyalty of the world, or so kindled the hopes of every heart, as did Nelson Mandela, by the weight of his suffering and the sterling virtues of his faith and character.  

Patience in suffering.  Courage under oppression.  Hope in the darkness.  Forgiveness of wrongs.  Love of enemies.  By these graces Nelson Mandela testified to the reasonableness of a godly hope.  Now the great man of peace, the keeper of the faith, has passed, and every heart is troubled.  Now it falls to the world and the church, and to all who would honor this man, to guard our own hearts, to recommit ourselves to peace, and to the reconciliation of adversaries, which was the brilliance of his life and martyrdom, and by which is the healing of the world.  

The Rt. Rev. Andrew M. L. Dietsche