Several Catholic bishops have denounced the shooting of the abortion doctor George Tiller, offering their prayers for Tiller and his family while reiterating that the pro-life position can never serve as a justification for crimes.

Bishop of Wichita Michael O. Jackels said in a statement that the Catholic community extends sympathy to Tiller’s family. Bishop Jackels said that the violent crime against Tiller was made “even more heinous” by being committed in a church as he was preparing to worship.

“Many Catholics have over the years engaged in peaceful protest outside of Dr. Tiller’s clinic, praying for an end to abortion, and especially late-term abortions; I have on occasion joined them for this purpose. This position and hope cannot however serve as a justification for committing other sins and crimes, like the willful destruction of property and, even worse, murder.”

“It is my prayer that the Tiller family find consolation, that Dr. George Tiller find mercy and the fulfillment of the great hope of Christians, and that all will find peaceful and legal means to resolve differences,” Bishop Jackels said.

Archbishop of Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali also responded to the crime. Speaking on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) as chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, the cardinal said the USCCB and its members “have repeatedly and publicly denounced all forms of violence in our society, including abortion as well as the misguided resort to violence by anyone opposed to abortion.”

"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. We pray for Dr. Tiller and his family."

Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput, a Kansas native, was joined by the Kansas-born Auxiliary Bishop of Denver James D. Conley in a Monday statement on the murder.

"The violence at the heart of every abortion and the abortion industry itself will never be ended by counter-violence. The killing of George Tiller is an inexcusable crime that cuts against everything pro-life Americans, and especially religious believers, stand for,” the two prelates said.

"We pray for Dr. Tiller and his family and for an end to the culture of violence that this country seems unable to escape. We ask Catholics across Colorado to do the same."