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South African cardinal calls US abortion rate ‘a genocide’ for blacks

Cardinal Wilfrid F. Napier of Durban, South Africa, arrives for the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 14. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See SYNOD-REACTION Oct. 14, 2014.

(RNS) A South African cardinal who recently rejected calls for the Catholic Church to apologize to gay people has said the abortion rate among black women in the U.S. is “a genocide” and added: “Isn’t this something we should be apologizing for?”

In a series of tweets late Friday (July 1), Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban cited Guttmacher Institute estimates that there have been more than 57 million abortions in the U.S. since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973.

“Isn’t this something we should be apologizing for?” Napier, one of the more active tweeters in the College of Cardinals, wrote in the first of three tweets on the topic.

Napier then cited a statistic noting that black women have been the patients in about 31 percent of those abortions. He added: “That figure starts looking like a genocide when one factors in that Black women make up only 13 percent of total number of women in USA.”

“Isn’t that also something we should be apologizing for?” Napier wrote.

Napier was among those who deplored calls by some in the hierarchy who said, in the wake of last month’s shooting massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, that the Catholic Church should also examine its conscience and apologize for bias against gays and lesbians.

“God help us! Next we’ll have to apologize for teaching that adultery is a sin! Political Correctness (PC) is today’s major heresy!” Napier tweeted.

That was several days before Pope Francis told journalists that the church should ask forgiveness from gay people for the way it has treated them.

A screen shot of a series of tweets by South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier.

A screen shot of a series of tweets by South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier


About the author

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.


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  • Oh, you have plenty to be apologizing for without having to look over here. Start with your bigotry and mistreatment of women. Then apologize for trying to make a racial issue out of abortion. And never, ever forget the 10 year old rape victim you forced to become a mother! And the babies dumped in septic tanks in Ireland, and selling babies around the world, and sexually molesting babies everywhere, and oh yeah, having once taken a stance against condoms on your own continent.

  • Dear bishop,

    Use the mystical power of the Google to get a little information about violence in South Africa.

    Then you can explain what you are doing about it.

  • Actually, AMERICAN blacks used to echo Cardinal Napier’s message to a significant extent. I can even remember a time, long time ago, when the liberal Rev. Jesse Jackson dared to question abortion-on-demand in front of the TV cameras.

    Black people knew about the founder of Planned Parenthood, (Margaret Sanger), and they knew about black abortion rates contrasting with white abortion rates. They knew there was something wrong with Roe v. Wade.

    But then it was made absolutely clear that Democratic Party political support (and especially Democratic Party $$$$$), would simply be withheld from any black American that didn’t find a way to publicly agree with (or else remain silent about) legalized abortion-on-demand. Period.

    Therefore just that quickly, the major black political and religious leaders bowed and kowtowed (from Jackson, to the NAACP, to Obama), and Black America was thus signed up for long-haul residency on the New Plantation. With the exception of a few brave names like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, we’re still there.

  • Everything is either a democratic conspiracy, a gay conspiracy, a no true Christian conspiracy, or a satanic conspiracy.

  • So abortion is the only “genocide” performed by its own people. Hogwash. Teen pregnancy, single parenthood and lack of access to family planning are some of the leading causes of poverty among blacks. Why do you hate your own community so much you want to perpetuate it’s poverty and political powerlessness?

  • Without starting a fight, I would like to consider a question. Sex education has been prevalent in the American school system since before I was a high school senior; John Adams HS, Class of 77. Yet, despite this education, teenage pregnancy rates have remained unabated. I would then posit, that mere education is not the solution to unwanted pregnancy. I confess that I wish all those that are unmarried, young and old, would abstain from sex, because sex has consequences of one sort or another, both physical and emotional. And it is my belief that marriage is the proper venue for sexual relations, for stabilities sake, if nothing else (Marriage stability is another question). But this seems either impossible or unrealistic. Even among very devout Christians of my acquaintance, the unexpected pregnancy of, or by, the pastor’s child, is not uncommon. But in these cases, abortion is not generally considered a solution. Even many pro-choice advocates recognize that abortion is hardly an ideal choice. In my own sister’s case, the unexpected child was adopted out at birth. It was emotionally painful for my sister, but she has come to terms with it in the hope that her child was matched with a loving set of parents better prepared at the time to meet the child’s needs. With so many infertile couples longing to raise a child of their own, it is my prayer that more women would at least consider this as a viable option for their own unplanned pregnancy.

  • 1. Sex education is not as prevalent as you believe. Especially when abstinence only garbage is still fairly common in some places. Abstinence only education has been counterproductive everywhere it is given.

    2. Education is only part of it. Access to contraception is another. Reactionary religious influence creates a culture of avoidance of contraception. But there is no (nor ever has been) a culture of abstinence.

    3. Teen pregnancy and abortion rates have been on a decline in the developed world. Sex education works.

    4. Abstinence before marriage contributes to high divorce rates. Couples marry younger, raise kids younger and are far less equipped and prepared for both.

    5. Advocating abstinence as a public policy is merely a way to act in a self righteous manner and avoid addressing the situation in a tangible way. It may work for you personally, but you would be daft to think it can work beyond that.

  • When I was a child, over 50 years ago, we were told that men had a penis– duh– and women had a Vagina. We were told that if a sperm United with an egg, a baby would result, that was it.

    That’s not sex education.

  • What nonsense.Doesn’t the cardinal know that the abortion rate is related to the poverty of women? Doesn’t he know that the abortion rate is higher in the underdeveloped world? That there are over 50 million abortions per year worldwide,. tied largely to the lack of universal access to contraception, which is largely due to the political pressure brought by his own church? If he wants to reduce the abortion rate he should push Pope Francis to rescind the Vatican’s absurd ban on contraception. — Edd Doerr (

  • Brandenburg says I am a liar, a racist, and know nothing. He says I have an easy life. Yet he cannot even make an entry in acceptable language. Come back, Brandon, and let’s discuss this.

  • How pastoral of that shepherd of the RCC. Yeah, well good for him, he got to hate someone.

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