Washington, DC — The Very Reverend Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, has released the following statement upon news of the death of South African human rights leader Nelson Mandela:
In a long life of which nearly one third was spent behind bars, Nelson Mandela saw both hardship and blessing. We today give thanks for his experience of both, for they enabled the advance of freedom in South Africa and throughout the world. The passing of Nelson Mandela marks the end of an era for all who value liberty and justice. As Mandela himself said, “to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
We at Washington National Cathedral are mindful of Mandela's role in the fight against apartheid, to which our own Bishop John T. Walker joined his voice. We are likewise grateful for the creation of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission led by the Cathedral's friend and ally, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The Commission's work was a powerful example of how political leaders can create a more just society by telling the truth—no matter how hard—in love, a value central to the great faith traditions.
Nelson Mandela, his family, the people of South Africa, and all who carry forward the struggle against discrimination will remain in our prayers as well as on our mission. His life can and should be a reminder to all people that change for the better will always come when leaders serve with perseverance and compassion. To that call we recommit ourselves in his memory and honor.