Bishop Thomas Joseph Tobin of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence issued a statement today in which he harshly criticized Nelson Mandela's liberalization of South Africa's abortion laws.

"Many people around the world and in our own nation are mourning the loss of former South African President Nelson Mandela," he wrote. "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."

However, he continued, "[t]here is part of President Mandela’s legacy 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.'"

"We can only regret," he concludes, "that his noble defense of human dignity did not include the youngest members of our human family, unborn children."

In September, Bishop Tobin lamented that Pope Francis hasn't made banning abortion the signature agenda of his papacy. "I'm a little bit disappointed in Pope Francis that he hasn't, at least that I'm aware of, said much about unborn children, about abortion, and many people have noticed that," he told The Providence Journal.

"It's one thing for him to reach out and embrace and kiss little children and infants as he has on many occasions," he said. "It strikes me that it would also be wonderful if in a spiritual way he would reach out and embrace and kiss unborn children."

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