National Catholic Reporter

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Encounters with Mandela, the spiritual giant


The life of Nelson Mandela, who died yesterday at the age of 95, was virtually unparalleled in examples of forgiveness and humility. I feel blessed to have had two personal encounters with this spiritual giant.  The first came ten years back, when, in Washington having lunch with the late NCR columnist Jesuit Fr. Robert Drinan, Mandela unexpectedly appeared. It was shortly after Drinan and I had arrived and we were still standing near the door waiting to be seated. Drinan turned around and with that large Drinan grin, approached the former South African president.



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