Following the sad news of Nelson Mandela’s passing, CIDSE President and CAFOD’s Director Chris Bain has issued the following statement:
“Today, we have lost a brother, a leader, and a legend. But more than ever now, we must dedicate ourselves in Nelson Mandela’s memory to the fight for freedom, peace and justice. The greatest honour we can pay him – the legacy that he warrants – is that we build the world he wanted to see: a world free from any form of division, whether between black or white, rich or poor, man or woman. And that we rise to the example he set during his cruel punishment on Robben Island and when serving his country so magnificently afterwards, and live our lives with selflessness, courage and compassion.
“CAFOD’s supporters stood in the vanguard of the battle against apartheid, and the demand for Nelson Mandela’s freedom. His fight was ours. We helped fund the ‘New Nation’ newspaper and worked through local churches to deliver health care in the townships; churches whose priests and bishops were so often literally in the front line against the forces of oppression.
“Just a few months ago, Archbishop Desmond Tutu hailed the role that CAFOD’s staff and supporters played in defeating the evil of apartheid. He recalled that “7 years ago, a rallying call was made to the people of Britain by Nelson Mandela – he called on them to rise up and never to remain silent in the face of injustice, oppression, suffering, and poverty. He told the world from his platform in Trafalgar Square that “overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice”.
“The act of justice demanded by Nelson Mandela must become our daily act of tribute to his life and his example. He told that 2005 gathering in Trafalgar Square: “Sometimes it falls to a generation to be great. You can be that great generation”. Let us embrace his challenge; let us deliver the world he demanded; it is the very least he deserves.”