Pope Francis says Mandela "will inspire generations"

Fri Dec 6, 2013 6:37am EST
 
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ROME (Reuters) - 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.

"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," Francis said in a telegram to South African President Jacob Zuma.

The pontiff praised "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".

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.

(Reporting by Naomi O'Leary; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

 
Pope Francis speaks during his weekly general audience at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican December 4, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi