South Africa Cardinal Defends Freedom of Press

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, AUG. 29, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Responding to legislation seen as a threat to freedom of the press, the archbishop of Durban, South Africa, is lamenting the "short memory" of his country.

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier expressed his dismay at the Protection of Information Bill, which would give the government power to define information as in the "national interest" and make it a crime to be in possession of such information without authorization.

According to Friday's edition of L'Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Napier reflected: "It is hard to imagine how any person, group or organization, which only a few years ago was protesting so vigorously for the exposing of all injustice, all corruption, all favoritism and nepotism, could in such a short time be calling for legislation designed to prevent the reporting of these very ills."

The cardinal's statements were published by a South African daily, The Mercury.

"It must be either an extremely short memory or a very guilty conscience that could drive one who had suffered under the old regime to change so quickly from opposing to supporting that undemocratic conduct," the cardinal added.

He made an appeal to the South African president to keep the country from being dragged into political controversy so soon after the "image of unity and solidarity" transmitted around the globe during the World Cup.