5 April 2005
Former South African president Nelson Mandela will attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II at the Vatican on Friday, SABCnews reports.
Also attending the funeral will be Deputy President Jacob Zuma, leading a South African delegation.
Mandela, who said this week that he had been deeply inspired by the Pope, will join 200 world leaders at Friday’s mass, the Vatican has confirmed.
In a statement released by the Nelson Mandela Foundation following Pope John Paul’s death on Saturday night, Mandela said he joined the millions of Roman Catholics around the world in mourning the death of Pope John Paul II.
“We know that millions more people of all persuasions and backgrounds join us in this shared sense of loss and bereavement”, Mandela said in the statement.
Describing the Pope as one of the greatest spiritual leaders of the era, Mandela said he “gave moral direction and guidance in an age whose scientific and technological progress was not always matched by equal progress in compassion and universal caring.
“Pope John Paul II was a consistent voice articulating the need for moral regeneration and caring for the poor and marginalised”, Mandela said.
“We were highly privileged to have met with His Holiness on a number of occasions and were always inspired by his wisdom, compassion, humility and deep spirituality. The world is undoubtedly a better one for the legacy and the teaching he leaves behind.”
Tutu praises Pope who ‘spoke out’
Former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu joined Mandela in paying tribute to Pope John Paul II, praising him for speaking out against apartheid and for his attempts to unite humanity, particularly in the aftermath of the September 11 2001 attacks in New York.
“He spoke out against the unjust international economic system that benefited some and doomed others to lives of poverty, squalour and deprivation, a fertile soil for nurturing terrorism”, Tutu said.
Following the September 11 attacks, the Pope invited leaders of different faiths from around the world to pray for peace at a summit in Assisi.
“In a polarised world, this was a not insignificant push for recognising that we ultimately belonged together and would prosper only together”, Tutu said. “Anything else meant we were doomed.”