Dragged through the blood

What image comes to mind when the phrase “anti-abortion activist” is voiced or seen in print? For far too many in recent days, it is the police mug shot of Scott Roeder, who dragged the good name of pro-lifers everywhere through the blood when he fatally shot Dr. George Tiller while the notorious late-term abortionist attended a church service in Wichita, Kan., on Pentecost Sunday.

How sad and tragically wrong.

“Such killing is the opposite of everything we stand for, and everything we want our culture to stand for: respect for the life of each and every human being from its beginning to its natural end,” said Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali, chair of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee.

As a Catholic journalist, I have covered the pro-life community in the Diocese of Peoria for three decades. The many “anti-abortion activists” I have met are the most gentle, prayerful, selfless souls. I’m thinking of people like Jan Smith, the tireless founder and director of the Family Resources Center. Or priests like Father John Dietzen and Father Bill Miller, IC, the last two directors of the diocesan Respect Life Board. Or Charles Owens, the soft-spoken, golden-hearted pharmacist from Henry. Dozens of others who accurately symbolize “anti-abortion activists” come to my mind, including the 75 who lined busy War Memorial Drive in Peoria last Sunday for a first-time effort called “Life Line.” They didn’t scream. They didn’t destroy any property or harm anyone. They stood — or kneeled — silently and prayed, as hundreds and thousands of other “activists” have done.

But as baptized Catholics, there is another face that should come to mind every time we hear the phrase “anti-abortion activist.”

It’s the one looking back at us in the mirror. — Thomas J. Dermody, editor-in-chief, The Catholic Post

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