In the wake of last week's attack on a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver has rejected all violence in relation to the issue of abortion. “Hearts can change, people can change. Taking the peaceful approach is one that is absolutely critical,” Archbishop Aquila told CNA Dec. 1. This helps people “encounter the God who is love, who is mercy, the God who helps them to come to understand their own dignity as human persons.” He cited the case of former abortionist Bernard Nathanson, who performed thousands of abortions before becoming pro-life and having a Christian conversion. “I think that any time that we resort to violence, it goes against the laws of God and goes against his whole approach to the dignity of the human person,” Archbishop Aquila said. The Archbishop of Denver’s comments follow the Nov. 28 shooting attack at a Colorado Springs affiliate of the abortion provider Planned Parenthood. The alleged shooter, 57 year-old Robert Lewis Dear, killed three and injured nine at the Colorado clinic. He surrendered to police after a five-hour standoff, after injuring five police officers who responded to the shooting and killing one. One of the slain first responders, Officer Garrett Swasey of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police force, was an elder at a Colorado Springs-area church. Colorado Springs officials would not comment publicly on Dear’s motive. Some media reports, citing unofficial anonymous sources, said that Dear said “no more baby parts” upon his arrest. The shootings at Planned Parenthood drew swift criticism from pro-life leaders. On Nov. 28 Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs voiced prayers for the victims of the attack and those who “experienced the horror of being trapped in or near Planned Parenthood.” “There is no excuse for this senseless act of violence,” he said. In the wake of the Colorado Springs attack, some Planned Parenthood supporters renewed their criticisms of the pro-life movement. However, Archbishop Aquila said the pro-life approach to abortion is “certainly not anti-woman — it’s pro-woman.” He said the pro-life approach recognizes a woman’s uniqueness in creation and aims to help her see her own dignity. “She is the one who bears life and creates life. That always deserves to be respected and treated with dignity.” He said abortion breaks the Fifth Commandment and is always immoral. However, he explained “we must convert the hearts of people to see the goodness and the dignity of human life.”
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