Though both Pope Francis and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, among other Christian faith leaders, have offered high praise to former South African president Nelson Mandela upon his recent death, pro-life leaders are urging caution since Mandela also had a role in bringing abortion-on-demand and homosexual “marriage” to South Africa.
“Mandela should be congratulated for fostering a relatively peaceful transition from apartheid to whatever South Africa has become,” Paul Tuns writes in the Canadian pro-life and family publication, The Interim. “It is a little much to say that South Africa is a functioning democracy because it is effectively a one-party state with loads of corruption. That one-party state has moved South Africa firmly in line with the ideology of the international left on a host of issues, including moral issues.”
Tuns expresses his concern that strong pro-life Christian faith leaders like Alveda King referred to Mandela as a “great gift to the world,” without any mention of his support “for the very thing she campaigns against: abortion.”
Similarly, Pope Francis praised Mandela for “promoting the human dignity of all the nation’s citizens and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth.”
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York also referred to Mandela as “hero to the world.” Dolan said Mandela’s “bravery in defending human rights against the great evil of apartheid made him a symbol of courage and dignity, as well as an inspiration to people everywhere.”
Dolan added, “Nelson Mandela truly made the world a better place.”
Writing at Christian News Network, however, Heather Clark observed that a renowned South African missionary is cautioning against praising the life of Mandela, whom he says pushed a socially liberal agenda that promoted abortion, pornography, and homosexuality in the nation.
Dr. Peter Hammond of Frontline Fellowship of Newlands, South Africa recently related that Mandela was involved in terrorist activity. He referred to the African National Committee (ANC) as “the abortion, necklacing and corruption party.”
“There’s a lot of Christians out there who idolize Nelson Mandela because they’ve been given false, misleading and incomplete information,” Hammond said. “He has pushed for the legalization of abortion, pornography [and] homosexual relationships… [He was] trying to legalize prostitution. He’s a radical liberal.”
The sentiment is echoed by John Smeaton, director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), who reminds that, regarding abortion, Mandela said, “Women have the right to decide what they want to do with their bodies.”
Smeaton notes Mandela’s “horrid record” on abortion, including signing a broad abortion law in 1996 while president, and promoting gay rights and population control after his presidency ended.
In February of 2011, as South Africa’s Catholic bishops were praising Mandela, Smeaton observed:
It is absolutely vital that Catholic leaders do not allow themselves to become respecters of persons, swept away by personality cults. Catholic leaders have a duty to stand up to public figures with anti-life and anti-family records, however praiseworthy their record may be on other issues. The sanctity of human life and the dignity of the family are the foundation and guarantee of all other human rights.
Smeaton also points out that Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) had a strong ideological commitment to abortion, with the ANC’s Women’s League behind the abortion legislation.
“The Mandela record is much more complicated than the fawning tributes suggest,” states Tuns. “Praise him for opposing apartheid; he deserves plaudits for not seeking revenge against his old enemies once he was released…
“But it makes no sense for pro-life Christians to praise Mandela’s example considering what he did with that power once he became president. A little balance is necessary in our reaction to the man who fought one injustice, but helped institute another.”