December 10, 2013

Bishop faults Mandela stance on abortion

Comments from the Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence, R.I., contrast with words from the pope.

The Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence weighed in on Nelson Mandela’s death by calling his support for abortion “shameful.”

Bishop Thomas Tobin, in a statement posted Sunday on the diocesan website, said that while there is much to admire in Mandela’s life and public service, there’s a part of his legacy that is “not at all praiseworthy, namely his shameful promotion of abortion in South Africa.”

Tobin’s comments stand in contrast to those of Pope Francis, who in a telegram to South African President Jacob Zuma last week praised Mandela’s steadfast commitment to “promoting the human dignity of all (his) nation’s citizens.”

The bishop in his statement took issue with Mandela’s decision in 1996 to sign legislation liberalizing South Africa’s abortion laws.

“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,” Tobin wrote.

Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and anti-apartheid icon, died last week at age 95. His funeral is scheduled for Tuesday.

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