RECEPTION IN HONOUR OF CARDINAL ARCHBISHOP W.F. NAPIER
DURBAN : MARCH 21, 2001
Today, members of our communities have gathered to honour a man of true distinction and to acknowledge his authority as a moral leader among men. Cardinal Archbishop Napier is worthy of such recognition, for his years of spiritual service have placed his name high in the esteem of KwaZulu Natalians and South Africans alike. It is therefore with a sense of deep regret that I am unable to attend today's reception due to unavoidable responsibilities of my office. I would wish to have shared this occasion to combine my blessings of fortune and favour with the many extended to His Eminence tonight. In my absence, I have requested Mr M.Z. Khumalo, my Party’s General Secretary of Administration, to deliver my message of encouragement and tribute to a fellow man of God.
The burden of my absence is made lighter in my heart by the knowledge that today, as we celebrate Human Rights Day, my own duty coincides with that which engages Archbishop Cardinal Napier on a day-to-day basis. Today we have both sought to further the debate on human dignity. Today, we have both stood on the Word which affirms that we are all created in God’s image and possess by virtue of our being human, an inherent stature which raises us above the base level of inconsequence, insignificance and irrelevance. It is this inherent value which removes our reason for despair. Indeed, the existence of despair within a society tells of a collective ailment of the spirit, whereby the recognition has been lost of the inherent dignity of man.
I fear that our country’s history speaks of a great loss in this regard and our psyche suffers because of it. We bear the wounds and scars of a past which violated the basic spiritual principle of human dignity. Many rejected the righteous demand for respect which accompanies the mere nature of being human. We walked against a divine truth, and today we bear the consequences. What we require above all to heal these wounds are leaders who walk in the full knowledge and faith of human dignity, moral consequence and spiritual conviction. South Africa will only suffer more deeply under leaders who waver on where they stand, or who practice a delicate balancing act between relative truths, or who draw distinctions between those who are deserving and those who are not.
The communities of this country require men and women of firm moral leadership who can drive the effort to rebuild South Africa’s spiritual fibre. Such leadership moves beyond the confines of denomination and extends into every sphere of our communities, seeking to teach universal truth, raise human potential and promote the dignity of man. Cardinal Archbishop Napier is a fine example of such leadership, expressing through his character the principles of integrity, authority and moral stature. It is with reverence that I consider his recent appointment by the Holy Father to the position of Cardinal of the Southern African Region as an accolade duly bestowed.
It is my fervent hope that Cardinal Archbishop Napier may work through his position of eminence to draw together leaders of moral stature throughout South Africa, across all denominations, to stand hand in hand in prayer, and guide our country through the troubled waters of a turbulent past. Today, more than ever, South Africa needs the strength of an ecumenic vision to weave the spiritual fibre of a new and diverse nation.
As we honour him today, I pray God Almighty may guide Cardinal Archbishop W.F. Napier to fulfil the preordained destiny upon which he embarked years ago. I stand in support of his commitment to pleasing God, knowing full well that God’s pleasure is indeed the dignity of man.
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