I have purposely avoided making any comment on the passing of Nelson Mandela because I have very little nice to say about the man.
For sure, he had praiseworthy characteristics and made praiseworthy decisions. But in my mind his legacy is much more deleterious than any of the current adulation will admit.
But I didn’t want to make a thing of it. It’s not about Mandela and me. Let it pass, I thought. So it was that I am pleased to see the comments of Bishop Thomas Tobin, bishop of Providence, Rhode Island.
“Many people around the world and in our own nation are mourning the loss of former South African President Nelson Mandela,” Bishop Tobin commented in a statement. “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.’”
Tobin continues: “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.”
Amen and amen.
Perhaps even more corageously, Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference said:
“Fifteen years have passed since abortion on demand was legalized in South Africa. Since then, it is estimated that over one million unborn children were denied the most fundamental of rights, the right to life”, said a statement on behalf of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), signed by Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, Archbishop of Johannesburg and President of the SACBC. “We remember those one million unborn babies. We regret that those children of God were denied the right to be born into God’s world and to enrich it with their own unique gifts and talents. We will never fully realize what we have missed because the law says that ‘abortion is fine’,” said the statement sent to Fides.
In the other, and perhaps even greater civil rights challenge of his time, Nelson Mandela completely failed and capitulated to the culture of death. That is his true legacy too.