Pope Francis paid tribute to Nelson Mandela on Friday, as he joins the world in grieving the death of one of the world’s most ardent fighters for equality.
He sent a telegram to South African President Jacob Zuma that said:
It was with sadness that I learned of the death of former President Nelson Mandela, and I send prayerful condolences to all the Mandela family, to the members of the Government and to all the people of South Africa. In commending the soul of the deceased to the infinite mercy of Almighty God, I ask the Lord to console and strengthen all who mourn his loss. Paying tribute to 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, 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. With these sentiments, I invoke upon all the people of South Africa divine gifts of peace and prosperity.
Pope Francis and Mandela shared a strong belief in the injustice of poverty. The Pontiff’s most recent apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium,” slammed the evils of unfettered capitalism and the world’s responsibility towards the poor, stating, “As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.”
Similarly, Mandela once said, “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.”
Nelson Mandela welcomed Pope John Paul II to South Africa in 1995, and was appreciative of their mutual concern for the poor, commitment to equality, and undying fight for liberation from oppression. On the occasion of Pope John Paul II’s funeral, Mandela said, “Pope John Paul II was a consistent voice articulating the need for moral regeneration and caring for the poor and marginalized.”
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has met a large delegation of Olympic leaders, and used the occasion to issue a warning over the commercialization of athletes.
Francis told several hundred members of the European Olympic Committees that when sport “is considered only in economic terms and consequently for victory at every cost … it risks reducing athletes to mere trading material from whom profits are extracted.”
The pope added that “sport is harmony but if money and success prevail as the aim this harmony crumbles.”
It was the second straight day that sports was high on the pope’s agenda. On Friday, he met with IOC president Thomas Bach, FIFA president Sepp Blatter and the rugby teams of Italy and Argentina.
Francis concluded Saturday by blessing “everyone who will take part in the next Olympic Games.”
Pope Francis waves after his general audience in St Peter’s square at the Vatican on September 18, 2013 . | Getty
Pope Francis’ personality has been encapsulated in fragrance form with the release of a pope cologne by Excelsis Fine Fragrances. CEO Frederick Hass founded the company in 2005, after obtaining a recipe for Pope Pius IX’s cologne, and has gone on to create other papal scents like “Benedictus” in 2006, and now “Francis.”
But what does the pontifical scent smell like? Hass told the Christian Post that he tried to evoke Pope Francis’ “humble and down to earth” character with the cologne, which mainly consists of bergamot and sandalwood. “I didn’t want to get anything too flashy,” Hass explained. “So I wanted something subtle and dignified and relatively simple.”
A press release from Excelsis stated that the new cologne was created in response to popular demand. On the response, Hass commented, “We are hearing words like ‘gentle,’ ‘simple,’ ‘warm,’ ‘pleasing’ — and even ‘heavenly’ — used to describe the new fragrance. These are precisely the terms used by the media and the new Pope’s close associates to describe His Holiness’ own character traits and personal demeanor.”
Excelsis describes the “Francis” scent and provenance on its website, writing “Created by Excelsis to celebrate the Petrine succession of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, Pontifex Maximus, 266th Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. Francis is an engaging, fresh fragrance with a citrusy top note of bergamot and a soft, woody drydown of sandalwood . Smooth and soothing, A grand aftershave.”
Stefano Cabizza, 19-year-old engineering student in Padua (northern Italy), gave a letter to a cardinal one day during mass in Castel Gandolfo. The letter was addressed to the Pope. He never imagined that a few days later he would hear Francis’ Spanish accent at the other end of the line: “I am Pope Francis. Let’s call each other by our first names.”
This is the way Jesus and the Apostles referred to each other: “They were friends as we are friends now, and I am on first-name basis with my friends,” told the Pope to Cabizza, according to Il Gazzetino.
The young man says he remained silent for a few seconds, astounded by what was happening to him. “I couldn’t believe it. We laughed and joked for about eight minutes.”
Pope Francis called him twice, Cabizza answered the second call around 5 p.m. “He asked me to pray for Saint Stephen and for him. He then blessed me and I felt a great strength growing in me.”
Il Gazzetino reports that this is not the first time the Pope has called someone personally. Cabizza confessed that this will be remembered as the “most beautiful day” of his life.
This post was translated from Italian and originally appeared on HuffPost Italy.