'You belong to Jesus' - The unlikely friendship of an abortionist and a pro-life Catholic

WNDU TV South Bend 1 Dr. Urich Klopfer. Image from WNDU-TV South Bend

The unlikely friendship between a controversial abortion doctor and a local Catholic shows the impact of encounter and friendship in spreading the Gospel, an Indiana priest said after the abortionist's death.

On Sept. 16, police launched an investigation after more than 2,000 remains of aborted children were found at the former home of abortion doctor Ulrich "George" Klopfer in Will County, Illinois.

Klopfer, 75, had died about a week before the fetal remains were discovered on his property. He had spent four decades performing abortions at clinics in Indiana and Illinois.

For years, Klopfer's abortion practice had been criticized for a lack of safeguards. His license was suspended in 2016 because he failed to exercise reasonable care and violated documentation requirements, according to local reports.

In a homily on Sept. 15, Father Dan Scheidt of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Parish in Fort Wayne said that a parishioner from the church had befriended Klopfer while he was alive. The parishioner, who was not named in the homily, would routinely pray outside one of the clinics where Klopfer worked, and the two eventually got to know one another.

"Even after his [medical] license was taken away from the state, George Klopfer kept returning to his closed clinic so that he could get out of his car and sit in the passenger seat of the Saint Vincent's parishioner's car and talk to his friend. Every single Thursday, George Klopfer drove from Chicago to be with his friend."

Through the parishioner, Scheidt said he was also introduced to Klopfer.

"Twice I sat next to that man, who is responsible for the ending of over 30,000 human lives," said Scheidt. "It became clear in our conversation that we were his only friends. It's what prompted him to drive the distance and want to meet with the priest."

Scheidt said he learned a great deal about Klopfer and the sufferings of his life. Klopfer was born in World War II Germany and witnessed "the neglect of human beings for each other," he said. In one story, the abortion doctor recalled Russian soldiers machine-gunning small animals for their own cruel amusement.

Before Klopfer passed away, the priest said, the Catholic parishioner believed he saw the abortion doctor undergo a change of heart. At the time of their last meeting, the parishioner had challenged Klopfer, saying, "George, it's not too late. You are like the thief on the cross next to Jesus. You belong to Jesus, George, accept that, even in the last hour, accept that."

"The parishioner, who so many times left the Thursday meeting with frustration at the progress, he left that meeting believing that he'd actually reached George's heart," Scheidt said, emphasizing that God alone knows the condition of Klopfer's soul at the moment of his death.

Scheidt encouraged members of his congregation to imitate the actions of the parishioner, seeing everyone as more than the sum of their sins, but as a child of God.

"My brothers and sisters, we must go in search of the divine image in every person. I saw in George Klopfer not simply one who slaughtered, but a lost sheep...Somebody who needed to know his sonship," the priest said.

He encouraged parishioners to consider anyone they may have dismissed because of that person's sin. He asked them to call on Christ for help in inviting those people into an encounter of love.

"God possesses the ability to transform and to heal human life," he said. "This is our story and Jesus has given us everything, everything, for us to be part of the happy ending."

This article was originally published on CNA Nov. 6, 2019.

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