Diocese of Providence, R.I. Bishop Thomas Tobin issued a statement on Sunday calling the late Nelson Mandela's support of abortion a "shameful" part of the former South African president's legacy.
"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," Tobin's statement, published on the Diocese's website, said. "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.'"
Earlier this year, Tobin wrote that he was "a little bit disappointed" that Pope Francis had not addressed abortion since being elected, according to the Associated Press. In a lengthy interview published in Jesuit journals the week following Tobin's comment, Francis criticized the church's focus on abortion, gay marriage, and contraception.
In his statement about Mandela, Tobin wrote that 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.”