Bishop Notes Something to Regret in Mandela Legacy

Recalls His 'Noble Defense of Human Dignity' Did Not Include Unborn

Washington, D.C., (Zenit.org) | 1805 hits

The bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, is affirming that there is much to admire in the legacy of Nelson Mandela, but also noting that the South African leader failed to promote the dignity of the unborn.

A statement today from Bishop Thomas Tobin mentioned Mandela's "shameful promotion of abortion in South Africa."

Mandela died Thursday at the age of 95. 

"Many people around the world and in our own nation are mourning the loss of former South African President Nelson Mandela," Bishop Tobin commented. "Indeed there is much to admire in Mandela’s long life and public service, particularly his personal courage and his stalwart defense of human rights.

"There is part of President Mandela’s legacy, however, that is not at all praiseworthy, namely his shameful promotion of abortion in South Africa. In 1996 Mandela promoted and signed into law the 'Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Bill' that, according to the New York Times, 'replaced one of the world’s toughest abortion laws with one of the most liberal.'"

In their statement at the time of his death, the bishops of South Africa also pointed out that not all of Mandela's legacy is positive. 

"As with all people he made mistakes and had shortcomings -- we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (cf. Romans 3:23)," wrote Archbishop Stephen Brislin, president of the country's episcopal conference. "Thus, we commend him to the Lord and pray that he will rest in peace. May perpetual light shine on him."

Bishop Tobin concluded his statement on a similar note: "While we pray for the peaceful repose of President Mandela’s immortal soul and the forgiveness of his sins, we can only regret that his noble defense of human dignity did not include the youngest members of our human family, unborn children." (K.N.)