St. John Paul II poses with Nelson Mandela and his wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, in 1990 at the Vatican. CNS photo/Luciano Mellace, Reuters

The Register Archive: A free Mandela brings message to Canadians

  • June 14, 2018

Just four months after being released from a South African prison in 1990, Nelson Mandela, the country’s future president, was in the midst of an international tour, visiting countries that had supported the long fight for his release and against South Africa’s apartheid policies. Canada was one of those stops, as reported by Tonia Desiato in The Register of June 30, 1990.

Nelson Mandela’s release after 27 years in prison, his international popularity and his global tour do not mean that South Africa’s struggle for independence is over, said Jack Panozzo, the national spokesman for the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace

“One of his most important messages is that economic sanctions against South Africa can’t be dismantled,” he told The Catholic Register

“D&P has been saying this for years and now people will finally get to hear Mr. Mandela say it.” 

The 71-year-old Mandela made a three-day visit to Canada June 17-19. More than 30,000 people gathered on the front lawn of the Ontario Legislature to hear Mandela’s 30-minute speech in which he thanked anti-apartheid solidarity groups, churches, the peace movement and several other organizations for being a “constant source of support and inspiration for us.” 

“For the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who’ve set up meetings, community organizations, rallies and petitions, this is a hopeful moment of things to come,” said Panozzo.

In a June 15 statement, the Canadian Council of Churches called Mandela “a champion and leader in the worldwide struggle for freedom, peace and social, political and economic justice.”

Before arriving in Canada, Mandela met with Pope John Paul II in Vatican City on June 15. The Pope said he hoped Mandela’s release marks a new chapter for South Africa. “Thanks be to God that we can meet,” Pope John Paul said, welcoming Mandela. 

The Pope avoided public remarks on the issue of sanctions. In his Ottawa address to Canada’s Parliament, Mandela urged Canada and leaders of the European Community not to relax sanctions against South Africa. “Any move at this stage toward lifting or relaxing international pressure would create a situation in which white South Africans would feel comfortable with the minimal changes which have taken place,” he said.

The leaders of the European Economic Community were scheduled to meet in late June to determine whether sanctions should be ceased because of reforms introduced by South African president F.W de Klerk.

(To explore more from The Catholic Register Archive, go to

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