Murder of Michigan pro-lifer a ‘non-story’ for Obama Catholics

ppjim Jim Pouillon, known locally as

While the pro-life movement was in mourning over the weekend following the murder of pro-life activist Jim Pouillon in Owosso, Mich., pro-Obama Catholics who reacted loudly after the murder of late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller have completely ignored the death of the peaceful pro-life activist.

Catholics United, a small group of pro-Obama Catholics that has been actively involved in the abortion debate, completely ignored the murder of Pouillon on its website, while only few hours after Tiller’s murder on May 31, its executive director Chris Korzen issued a statement expressing his “shock” following the abortionist’s murder.

“Although the motivations behind this crime are uncertain, many believe Dr. Tiller's death is related to his controversial role as an abortion provider. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dr. Tiller's loved ones during this time of grief,” Korzen said at the time.

“We fear,” Korzen added, “that this murder is a byproduct of increasingly hateful and intolerant language on the part of some militant opponents of legal abortion – language that has often sought to demonize people like Dr. Tiller to the point of dehumanization.”

Nevertheless, 72 hours after the murder of Pouillon, Korzen's site still features a post on  Catholics United’s support for Obama's health care reform as its top entry.

Moreover, the day after the shooting of the Owosso pro-lifer, Korzen’s only statement was a condemnation of the massive “tea party” held in Washington D.C., which he called a “right-wing rally.”  “We’d like to have an honest debate… I don’t see a lot of substance here,” Korzen told the New York Times.

The Jesuit weekly, America Magazine, also completely ignored the murder of the Michigan pro-life activist. None of the magazine's news or blog postings made a mention of Pouillon's murder.  Instead, few hours after his murder, America posted an entry from blogger Austen Ivereigh titled “Lessons in radicalism and civility.”

In his post, Ivereigh quoted former Milwaukee archbishop Rembert Weakland, who in his recent memoirs accused “some parts of the pro-life movement” of lacking civility. 

“To an increasing extent, the pro-life movement within the church shows a desire to act in ways which break amicable and civil relations with those both inside and outside our church who favor abortion or who support compromise on this issue,” Ivereigh also wrote, quoting Jesuit professor John P. Langan.

Ivereigh was the same America blogger that, only hours after the murder of the Kansas abortionist wrote: “What Dr. Tiller did was appalling. But he had his humanitarian reasons for doing it. He was a churchgoing family man. The hostility and violence directed at Dr. Tiller made him even more determined to carry on doing what he did. He was showered with pro-choice awards and is now, in death, a pro-choice martyr.”

On June 1, Michael Sean Winters, another blogger for America Magazine, wrote: “Dr. Tiller had a family and friends who have lost their husband, father, brother and neighbor. Because the murder happened in his church, Tiller’s fellow church-goers will doubtlessly be traumatized in a unique way every time they enter the vestibule of their place of worship."

"The killing is a tragedy for the pro-life movement,” Winters also wrote. “Despite the fact that most pro-life activists are peaceful people, committed to prayer not violence, the whole movement will be tarred with this murder. The charge of hypocrisy – murdering in an effort to stop murder – will ring loud and for many it will ring true.”

Winters also pointed out that “the killing is a tragedy for the nation.”

However, 24 hours after Pouillon’s murder, Winters chose to blog about immigrants and health care.

The National Catholic Reporter has followed a similar trend. Three days after Pouillon’s murder, the Reporter did not include any news stories on the killing, and none of its bloggers mentioned the issue.

Conversely, in the wake of Dr. Tiller’s murder, the Reporter included several stories about his death, including one titled, “With abortionist dead, do conservatives share blame?”

The article, signed by Lindsay Perna and Adelle M. Banks, claimed then that “with the murder on May 31 of Dr. George Tiller, one of the nation's few late-term abortion doctors, supporters of abortion rights are questioning whether there is a connection between his death and the rhetoric of the anti-abortion movement.”

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“More to the point,” the authors wrote, “would Tiller have been a victim if anti-abortion groups had not made him so prominent?”

Jeffrey Wess, an analyst for Politics Daily, observed on Sunday that President Barack Obama issued his condolences after Tiller's murder before nightfall the same Sunday.

“Let's grant that Dr. Tiller was famous before he was killed and that nobody much outside of Owosso had ever heard of Pouillon a week ago. And let's also grant that nobody has come up with any connections thus far between the suspect in Pouillon's murder and any organization with any stand concerning abortion,” Wess wrote.

“But Pouillon is sure famous now. And two days after his murder, I can find few statements about it, pro forma or otherwise, on any of the websites of any of the prominent organizations that support abortion rights,” Wess wrote in his column titled “Where Are the Condemnations of Abortion Protester James Pouillon's Murder?”

“Not NARAL. Not NOW. Not Planned Parenthood. Not Catholics for Choice,” he added.

Wess observed that, unlike the Obama Catholics, on Sunday evening, more than 48 hours after the killing of Pouillon, President Obama at least released a one sentence statement:  “The shooting last week in Michigan was deplorable. Whichever side of a public debate you’re on, violence is never the right answer.”

Meanwhile, on Sunday, several pro-life organizations and hundreds of pro-lifers held a special memorial service for Jim Pouillon during a prayer vigil at the Capitol, which Jim had planned to attend.

(Story continues below)

The 27-hour prayer vigil, part of a national campaign called “Abortion is Not Health Care,” started on Sunday, September 13 at 7:30 p.m. and will end today at 10:00 p.m.

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