Nelson Mandela became the ‘father-figure of the world’, says Archbishop of Dublin
Dr Michael Jackson said Mandela’s life had ‘changed the human face of the world’
Church of Ireland Archbishop Michael Jackson: Dr Jackson spoke at the Discovery International Christmas Carol Service which took place in the Church of St George and St Thomas on Cathal Brugha Street in Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
The life of Nelson Mandela made “unreflective conservatism” impossible, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin has said.
Archbishop Michael Jackson said Mandela, when faced with the evils of apartheid, responded with “values of principle, of human worth and of change and inclusion”.
Faced with that, his opponents could not hold their position with “credibility or integrity”, the Archbishop said.
He described Mr Mandela as the “father figure of a nation whom many have come to regard as the father figure of the world” and recalled his support for the Special Olympics in 2003.
He said: “A long life lived with passion and commitment brought about many changes in him and in the nation to which he belonged and which, in the fullness of time, he led into a future of which so many had not even dared to dream.
“We take a moment to reflect on a life which has changed the human face of the world. We use this moment to remember the challenge and responsibility of a rainbow people of God at home and abroad.”
In London, the Archbishop of Canterbury praised Mandela for his “extraordinary” courage at a service of thanksgiving for the life of the former South African president, who died last Thursday.
The Most Rev Justin Welby told a congregation at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square that the 95-year-old was the “rarest of leaders” as he thanked God for his life.
The archbishop read the sermon at the service, saying: “Great injustice is overcome only by great courage. Evil can never be placated, it must be defeated: that means struggle, and struggles demand courage. Nelson Mandela showed his courage by his determination in the face of evil and by his humanity in the experience of victory.
“What is more, such courage and humanity were learned and demonstrated in the mists of conflict and suffering. He was that rarest of leaders, those who learn from terrible events so as to exhaust all their lessons, rather than being shaped by them into bitterness and hatred.”
The archbishop said Mr Mandela’s life, and those of many in South Africa, had been full of oppression and injustice.
“Not everyone responds to such treatment with resistance,” said Mr Welby.
“Many of us would have kept our heads down, made what we could of life, looked after those close to us, and closed our eyes to what was happening.
“We would have said to ourselves, ‘life is tough enough, do not make it worse by swimming against the tide’.”