The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Abortion doctor shot and killed at his church

posted by deacon greg kandra

Incredible but, tragically, true: one of the country’s most polarizing and notorious abortion doctors was slain Sunday morning while he was serving as an usher at his church.


President Obama said this afternoon that he was “shocked and outraged” by the killing of abortion doctor George Tiller, who was shot while attending church in east Wichita.

Wichita Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz said at a news conference late this afternoon that a suspect in the shooting was in custody and on his way back to Wichita.

“However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence,” the president said in a statement issued by the White House.

The suspect, a 51-year-old male, was arrested without incident on I-35 in Johnson County about three hours after the shooting, Stolz said.

Police did not release the suspect’s name.

The investigation is in its “infancy stages,” Stolz said. He said the shooting appeared to be an isolated act.

Tiller, 67, was shot once just after 10 a.m. in the lobby of Reformation Lutheran Church at 7601 E. 13th St., where he was a member of the congregation.

Stolz said Tiller was shot in the foyer of the church. There were three or four eyewitnesses, he said. Six to 12 people were in the foyer at the time of the shooting.

Two men attempted to apprehend the suspect, but he pointed a gun at them and threatened them before fleeing, Stolz said.

The suspect’s car — a powder blue Ford Taurus registered to an owner in Merriam — was spotted just south of Gardner by two Johnson County Sheriff’s deputies. The Sheriff’s Office had suspected that the man would be coming back to his home on I-35, and the deputies waited for him.

As the car was spotted going north on the highway, the deputies followed and were quickly joined by three other sheriff’s patrol cars.

Lt. Mike Pfannenstiel of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office said officers pulled the car over just south of the main Gardner exit and got out with guns drawn. The man then got out of his car with his hands up.

“We took him down without incident,” Pfannenstiel said, adding that the man appeared to be driving the speed limit and made no attempt to elude the deputies.

Stolz said police anticipate the suspect will be charged with murder and two counts of aggravated assault. Investigators will present the case to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office on Monday.

The District Attorney’s Office will determine what charges will be filed, Stolz said. Federal charges are also a possibility, he said.

Tiller was serving as an usher at the church, one of six ushers listed in the church bulletin. He was handing out bulletins to people going into the sanctuary minutes before being shot.

Tiller’s family issued a statement through Wichita attorneys Dan Monnat and Lee Thompson:

“Today we mourn the loss of our husband, father and grandfather. Today’s event is an unspeakable tragedy for all of us and for George’s friends and patients.

“This is particularly heart wrenching because George was shot down in his house of worship, a place of peace.”

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posted May 31, 2009 at 7:40 pm

How is it incredible?

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted May 31, 2009 at 8:13 pm

Micheael…What's incredible — at least, to me — is that someone would gun down a man while he was serving as an usher at church. Dcn. G.

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posted May 31, 2009 at 8:19 pm


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posted May 31, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Tragic. Extremism is never good.

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The Ironic Catholic

posted May 31, 2009 at 8:58 pm

This is so horrid in so many ways–That murder was evil evil evil evil evil. Creative Minority Report has a very good piece on the matter: basically, that all pro-life voices (incl bloggers) must, for the sake of all that is good, utterly and without reservation condemn this murder. The act of this one man will be, and already is, being used against us.

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posted May 31, 2009 at 10:32 pm

I’d agree that it was incredible were it not for the eliminationist rhetoric so common on the extreme end of the anti-abortion (not pro-life) crowd. I’m not surprised at all.

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posted June 1, 2009 at 8:06 am

If his murder was the result of anti-abortion ideology, Tiller’s would be the eighth death in the last 20 years. In addition, there have been 17 attempted murders, 41 bombings, 175 incidents of arson, 96 attempted bombings or arson, 390 invasions, 1,400 cases of vandalism, 1,993 cases of trespassing, 100 butyric acid attacks, 659 anthrax threats, 179 cases of assault and battery, 406 death threats, four kidnappings, 151 burglaries, and 525 cases of stalking directed at abortion clinics, doctors and patients according to the National Abortion Federation.I have not checked the accuracy of those statistics, but they serve to make a point: Gandhi would have engaged in none of those behaviors. He also achieved his goal.

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posted June 1, 2009 at 9:52 am

Yes, it’s frightening how quickly and unquestionably this is being blamed on the pro-lifers. Fr. Pavone points out that we don’t know ANYTHING about the motives for this murder and although it’s probable because of the abortion issue, it could have been a post-abortive man or woman who has been twisted by their experiences. Obama comes out straight away and makes a statement about abortion being a difficult issue in the context of this murder, instantly linking the incident with the pro-life movement. It’s very worrying, I hope and pray that this won’t mean aggressive laws against pro-lifers and Catholics.

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posted June 1, 2009 at 11:54 am

Michael all that you quoted were done by extremists; no way related to the Catholic pro life groups with the possible exception of trespassing. All we do is pray, mostly the rosary, (quietly), and offer help before, during, and after the pregnancies. How interesting that you are so quick to bring up radical outfielders and not a mention of all of the good and most of all, babies saved, that has resulted from the Catholic Pro Life efforts.There are radical extremists and fallen souls in ANY group Michael, from Medical Doctors, Olympic Champions, to Catholic Priests and even a few popes.Since you brought up Ghandi, an always dead giveaway for the “I did/want it my way types”, (no offense to the good man Ghandi), you make the point of how folks like you cherry pick to fit your agneda. The fact is, Ghandi was very close to Catholic teaching on artificial birth control, chastity, heterosexual marriage, and sex only within a marriage. Like Pope Paul VI, he was prophetic on his teachings of artificial birth control. Just once I would like to see someone like you or the Hollywood types bring up THAT side of Ghandi.As for Dr. Tiller, it’s tragic. I couldn’t have been more opposed to what he did, but certainly valued his life (and salvation) as much as the unborn. I wonder if the fact that he was in church a sign of a possible repentance (not uncommon with abortion doctors), or alternative motives for show. That of course is not mine to judge, but I do hope he had some sign of repentance before he took his last breath and had the grace to reach out to God’s great mercy. He had many prayers behind him by pro lifers

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posted June 1, 2009 at 12:50 pm

The fact is, Ghandi was very close to Catholic teaching on artificial birth control, chastity, heterosexual marriage, and sex only within a marriage. Like Pope Paul VI, he was prophetic on his teachings of artificial birth control. Just once I would like to see someone like you or the Hollywood types bring up THAT side of Ghandi.Klaire, I’m afraid you didn’t understand anything I said. What you wrote above is absolutely true. So what? His political non-violence achieved his goal. The violence of the extremists achieves the opposite. Do you realize that all Christians are being lumped in with the vicious evil haters of the world because of the actions of cowards like Dr. Tiller’s murderer? Do you realize that eliminationist rhetoric leads inevitably to this kind of terrorism? Work against the haters on your own side while you pray for peace. Otherwise your words mean absolutely nothing.

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breath to breath

posted June 1, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Do you want the government to outlaw your right to your bodily functions and quality care? I hope your loved ones are not turned away from quality doctor care. One of mine was. She was luckier than others and survived a nonprofessional abortion. Women value reproductive freedom, knowledge, privacy, and the right to privately regulate our own bodily functions. No one should force women to create newborns or abort their pregnancies.Check out the extremism:

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Mike L

posted June 1, 2009 at 4:40 pm

Klaire, I find it strange that pro-choice people, most who have never had an abortion, have not killed any babies, nor want to, get branded as “baby killers” and “murderers”, but as soon as one of them commits a crime you greatly object to being called an extremists. I would have to ask if you objected to the protests and name calling surrounding Obama’s talk at Notre Dame? If not, I don’t think that you have much room to complain.I think that we often fail to see how others hear our words. Could it be possible that a bishop saying “We are at war” could be heard as permission, or even a command to kill an abortionist? Does that bishop have any responsibility in that case? Can one shout “fire” in a crowded theater?You said “I wonder if the fact that he was in church a sign of a possible repentance (not uncommon with abortion doctors), or alternative motives for show. That of course is not mine to judge, but I do hope he had some sign of repentance before he took his last breath and had the grace to reach out to God’s great mercy.” But you most certainly have judged him guilty, taking it out of the hands of God. Did you really mean this?Peace,Mike L

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posted June 2, 2009 at 12:53 am

The act that Tiller did was voted out of existence by a huge majority as beyond any defense possible. 15 democrats crossed the line to vote with the republican party to ban the Tiller proceedure. Three more, Biden, Edwards, and Kerry did not vote trying to stay on the fence. This guy was evil, with 60,000 deaths on his hands, many with this brutal proceedure. His reward was an income over a $1,000,000 per year. Now if the pro abortion group want to have him as their poster boy for their position, that is fine. As to the person who killed him, God will make the determination of his guilt for eternity. I do nto think they have a prayer of a fair trial or cries for mercy. There can be no easy language in this debate for it is about human life itself in its most innocent form. To say that because someone took this act does not in any way mean that the pro life side can or should stop pushing for the life of these human beings. To suggest that because the Catholic Church had an internal debate about who should be honored and invited to speak at one of their Universities has nothing to do with this act. To say that the bishop should not say that with 4,000 babies a day dying we should not be allowed to call it a war to save lives is not credible. But you will also not find bishops saying that we should go out and kill the abortionist even to save thousands of babies.

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posted June 2, 2009 at 10:46 am

Mike if peacefully praying the rosary in front of an abortion center makes me an “extremist”, then by all means, label me one! Other than the Eucharist and the rosary, there is no more powerful way to fight for life.As for any Catholic Bishop to suggest the killing of the abortionist, it’s simply ludicrous. Human life is human life, and all life, sinners and saints, must be respected. The only “responsibility” the Bishop has it to protect life and speak out against evil. Anyone “really listening” would “get”, quite easily, that ALL LIFE is sacred.As for me calling Tiller guilty, let me say it again, even louder Mike. The guy killed 60,000 babies, some on them a day before due date, most who could have easily survived outside the womb! Sentient babies had scissors stabbed into their heads, without any regards to not only their right to life, but the violence of the procedure and excruciating pain (compare that to the outrage of half of this country to THREE water boarded criminals). Mike it will be the ones who do NOT speak out against such evil who will also be guilty. As Greta mentioned, he made over a million dollars a year doing so. In addition, are you aware that he would often dress the babies in white, and have his “chaplain” baptize them, in some cases hold funerals, and offer foot and hand prints? This is sick, sick, sick, and “moral realivism” at its highest level. For this kind of evil to exist for 35 years, one would almost have to “believe” in some sick distorted way, that he really was “helping women.” If I didn’t make myself clear, Tiller was a mass murderer! There is a reason Mike that there are only two other doctors in the country who still do what he did. They are also mass murderers, albeit “legal” ones as was Tiller in most cases. As Catholics all ‘law’ is void if it violates God’s law, which is why it’s so SINFUL to vote for pro abortion candidates! Abortion is an intrinsic evil, no exceptions, no rationalizations, and no equality to all of the other social issues COMBINED. It is indeed a “spiritual battle”, and behind every abortion, is Satan, which is why the Eucharist and prayer is the only chance of triumph. It’s a supernatural battle, with the Eucharist and the rosary, not laws and bloody signage (i.e., supernatural means) being the only real hope. How can we win a battle if we don’t know the real enemy, which of course, is not even Tiller, Obama, and the radical left, but Satan?All said, we MUST as Christians JUDGE ACTIONS. Mike, how could we ever fight evil if we all stayed quiet and “watched and rationalized”? When Jesus said, “Do not judge” he was talking about SOULS, not ACTIONS. The “Do not judge” mantra has become the “rationalization mantra” of dissenters of the teachings of Christ, except of course, when it comes to “judging people like me for judging evil.”The evil of Tiller is up there with Hitler, however, I STILL believe, that God’s mercy was open to him until he took his last breath. Without question his actions were pure evil, but only God knew his heart and mind. That doesn’t make what he did any less evil, but who among us could possibly know how Satan had his hold over him. Sister Faustina told us that God’s mercy is greater than all the sins of the world combined. She also said that before we take our last breath, Jesus comes to each and every one of us, and offers us one more chance for God’s mercy. At that point, it’s the battle between us and Satan, and in my own opinion, that’s where I believe the prayer of the faithful really comes to play, always knowing that God wishes EVERY soul saved. Last but not least, purgatory is a doctrine of the Catholic faith, where EVERY sin must be atoned for, even if takes until the end of the world. I believe, and trust, in the greatness of God’s mercy, that there is even enough of it for Tiller the Baby Killer and Adolf Hitler, albeit always of course, in free will.

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posted June 2, 2009 at 10:36 pm

Had an insteresting conversation this evening with a priest friend. He asked me if I was going to die today, would I rather be going to judgement as Tiller, the guy who killed 60,000 babies by his own hand and probably a few patients, or the guy who shot him to stop this killing? both committed murder, one supposedly legal by the eyes of the state, but not God, and the other not legal by the state, but who knows how God feels about this act? I hope the killer repents his killing to heal his soul before he leaves this earth, but there is not doubt if I had to choose would rather go in as the killer of Tiller than as Tiller the killer. I have been impressed with the former abortionist Bernard Nathanson converstion to the Catholic faith and his powerful testimoney including his involvement in getting Roe passed into law. They never dreamed the court would go for this argument because it is not found anywhere in law or in the constitution. They also believed that the court would reject it because it would open the door to almost any other type of evil and they have witnessed the homosexual community use the court to create legislation. The right of privace does not exist. the right to kill human life should not exist and life should be protected from conception to natural death. Nathanson said this all was part of his conversion to the Catholic faith. He has become a friend over the years and I have learned a lot from this now humble man. Many do not know that he has donated all the money he made from abortion to the cause of pro life. If only Tiller had followed his leadership, this death would have been avoided.

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Ron King

posted June 3, 2009 at 8:34 am

If we truly believed that we are in a spiritual war then why are we continuing to remain in the warmth and safety of our material posessions and settle for praying in front of abortion clinics for 40 days, listening to people constantly preach to the choir about what they already agree on, calling people baby-killers, and think that we are doing and sacrificing enough to change hearts and minds?If we believe that this is spiritual warfare then what are you and I willing to sacrifice? Could it be that the murder of Dr. Tiller is a sign that you and I are not sacrificing enough and that the killer of Dr. Tiller is somehow connected to the totality of rage that each of us have associated with our own powerlessness against evil?If we are truly pro-life are we willing to give up everything and offer ourselves as a sacrifice for all who suffer the alienation and lack of value that the unborn child experiences?Until we come up with a solution that is equal to the rage that we feel about abortion then we are a part of the problem of abortion because we do not sacrifice enough and our rhetoric is nothing more than fanning the flame of hostility on both sides.

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posted June 3, 2009 at 11:37 am

Greta I'm glad that you mentioned Dr Nathanson, indeed a VERY good man once abortionist! Dr. N is IMO, the "thief on the right" who responded to grace. I have no doubt that Dr. Tiller received as many or more prayers, but unless he did so in his last moments of life, never gave any indication that he responded to the plethora or grace from all who prayed for him. Trust me, there were many, as all pro lifers pray for abortionists. I do hope as I wrote yesterday, that the grace from those prayers came when he needed them most, in his final hour/minutes of life.As for the question by your priest friend, it's most interesting, and it may well be that one or both men are not as culpable as we in our finate human minds would think. The killer, according to his ex wife's testimony yesterday, appears to be truly mentally handicapped (bipolar). Dr. Tiller, for any who don't know, is the son of an abortionist. Not only did he grow up with an abortionist father, but both of his parents, with his sister, were killed in a plane crash. Who but God could know what pressure he was under to "keep the family business" going. That alone has to be mitigating in God's eyes. Could any of us imagine our point of view had we been born into such circumstances? I do believe that HE BELIEVED he was helping women and babies. That doesn't make it any less evil of course, and maybe he did just have a dead conscience, but of course that's not for us to sort out. As Christians, we should pray for both men.Ron, I think you make a sweeping assumption that we aren't "doing enough." In my circle of pro life friends, any who can fit in a daily mass are daily communicants and even those who's schedule won't allow it at this time, say many rosaries. But yes, if you are indicaticating that those who don't pray an extra mass or a daily rosary for the unborn and the pro choice folks, that I agree with. I'm sure the results would be astounding if every American Catholic could make/pray just ONE extra mass a week. The rosary is a no brainer. If we had to, most of us could pray it between commercial breaks and stoplights. This is ndeed a supernatural battle, only to won by the Eucharst and the rosary. And that Ron, is the message we all need to get out.

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Ron King

posted June 3, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Klaire,Actually I was talking about a cross-country rosary pilgrimage that came to me September of '07 while I was out on my morning Rosary Run.It was not my idea. In September of '06 while on another Rosary Run I was given the thought to write Pope Benedict and ask him to lead us on a pilgrimage to Darfur and care for the widows and the orphans as a living example of sacrificial love that is the true essence of our faith. I received a reply as I look at it now dated November 7, 2006 stating "The Holy Father has received your letter and he has asked me to thank you in his name. He very much appreciates your concern about the tragic situation in Darfur and you reflections on the love of God…His Holiness assures you and your family of a remembrance in his prayers. Invoking upon you joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ, he cordially impart his Apostolic Blessing…"The Eucharist is the Mystery and we cannot remain in the known and expect to live in the Mystery. The only way to make this country holy is to have a pilgrimage that continues until hearts are healed and changed. You see, Klaire, when I began praying the Rosary with my morning runs God opened me to feel some of the suffering of the world and it was overwhelmingly heavy and dark. It is that suffering that is constantly penetrating all of us at every moment of the day. I totally agree with your wonderful and insightful assessment of Dr. Tiller and his suffering assassin. I do know that the diagnosis of bi-polar indicates an extreme sensitivity to the suffering of the world and it is felt as I described above but is diagnosed as a mental illness. I work daily in my practice with these highly sensitive human beings. They are misunderstood and consequently are damaged by that lack of understanding.They have the sensitivity of saints but have been taught that they are insane. It is horrible. They can see and feel the harm of the smallest and most hidden sin and then are told that they are wrong and delusional.I need to go to work now to these saints who have taught me so much in their suffering.God Bless

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Mike L

posted June 3, 2009 at 6:27 pm

Klaire, First you claim it is not yours to judge, not you change and say you are only judging actions. To me it is obvious that you are not semi-illiterate, therefore you know what your words mean. Murder indicates not only killing, but intent, and an act that is illegal. So you are judging more than actions. You seem to have made yourself accuser, judge, and jury, and then you are surprised that someone takes your word and carries out the execution?And as a Catholic you claim that the laws of our nation do not need to be followed because you believe that they are in opposition to God's law. Does this really mean that you are advocating the overthrow of our legal system? Is this not the argument of every terrorist?You are doing more than just praying your rosary, that is a holy and wonderful thing to do. You are also publishing you opinion in a way that seems to me to be encouraging violence.I don't really believe that you are intending this end, but many might read it as so. Just as saying "we are at war" may not be meant to indicate violence, the "war on terrorism" certainly included such, and can certainly be heard by some as a call to violence.I also find it interesting that you vent all of your anger at Dr. Tiller, and never mention the 60,000 women that you imply are also guilty of murder. Would be as accepting of the event if someone starting killing them?

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Mike L

posted June 3, 2009 at 6:57 pm

Bishop Lynch has stated my beliefs on this controversy very well on his web site. Perhaps all should read it and think about it for a bit.Peace,Mike L

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posted June 4, 2009 at 12:41 am

Mike last time I checked, abortion, the “killing of the unborn” is LEGAL in the United States. Partial Birth abortions are also legal in about 15 or so of the states, KS being one of them. As I wrote earlier, I have no idea how “morally” accountable Dr. Tiller was for the 60,000 deaths, which is a point I thought I made rather clearly. Even if he wasn’t morally culpable for any of them, it still doesn’t mitigate the evil(and consequences) of 60,000 dead babies. No, I am not calling for an overturn of the American legal system, only the illicit laws such as abortion. The CC clearly teaches (see the catechism) that moral and natural law usurp any man made law. As Catholics we are called to uphold the MORAL/Catholic law, even regardless of any political office. Why do you think the Catholic Church is full 2000 years of martyrs? To equate Catholic Teaching in upholding moral law to the acts of a “terrorist” is not only insulting, but also your inability to distinguish love from hate (pure evil). Show me one consequence of “love” from any act of violence from a terrorist. God is LOVE, remember? With respect to your request, I did go to Bishop Lynch’s website. I am assuming you are referring to his blog post. so, I fail to see where we disagree, or why you think I am a zealot by praying the rosary. He is saying pretty much the same thing I said, except he specifically wrote of the perils of zealots, which he described as :“Threats, ugly confrontations, demagoguery, the desire to apply penalties and sanctions – these in our present climate do more to hurt the cause of life than help it”How does peacefully praying the rosary equate to any of that?As for the “war” I am inciting, albeit spiritual, that too is the call of every Catholic/Scriptual. How the rosary and the Eucharist incite violence, is something you will have to explain to all of Dcn. Greg’s readers.As for my displacement of anger, I don’t know how I could have been clearer that it’s on the ACT, not the person. Of course I would be just as “angry” if the 60,000 women who had the abortions were also killed. They too, are victims, knowingly or unknowingly. I trust God’s mercy to the unborn babies, but anyone who doesn’t get that abortion hurts women doesn’t understand abortion. The only sign I every carried was in the San Francisco March for Life, “Abortion hurts women.” All said, I STILL hate abortion, and will “spiritually” fight the battle until my last breath, despite the cost.I will only add one thing in terms of “culpability.” Both Dr. Tiller and his killer wouldn’t even be in this discussion if the 60 million American Catholics voted like Catholics. Where was the “Catholic Vote” in Kansas for 35 years to allow the legality of late term abortions? I certainly don’t claim to know the state of anyone’s soul, but what I do know is this. As Catholics, we are called to defend human life. We have been given much, and we will be held accountable for much, especially our reticence. Abortion has been a hot button issue for years in this country, and despite poor catechesis and in some cases, poor Bishops, the “ignorance” defense will be pretty hard to pull off when we stand in judgment before God. For everyone (especially Catholics) who rationalizes, stays silent, or votes for pro abortions agenda politicians, while 4000 babies a day are killed in this country, will be held accountable. This is just my opinion, but knowing how Jesus feels about lukewarm souls (lower place than murderers), I have to believe that even more than late term abortion doctors, no one will be held more accountable for American abortions than American Catholics, from Bishops down to every person in the pew (or not in the pew). Not only have we (as a whole) failed to vote and fight like real Catholics, we have failed God’s most precious, the least among us.

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