(RNS) An anti-abortion group sponsored by Roman Catholic priests is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of suspects wanted for shooting abortion doctors, just one week after a fugitive was arrested in France for the 1998 murder of a Buffalo, N.Y., doctor.

Priests for Life said it will pay $50,000 for information that leads to the capture of fugitives so that the anti-abortion cause is not associated with extremists who kill abortion providers.

"The pro-life movement categorically rejects the philosophy of violence," said the Rev. Frank Pavone, the group's national director. "It is never permissible to take a life, whether it is that of an unborn child or that of an abortion provider."

Fugitive James Kopp was arrested in France on March 29 for the 1998 murder of Dr. Bernard Slepian. Prosecutors said they linked Kopp to the crime through DNA evidence, and also charged two anti-abortion activists in the United States with helping Kopp hide in France.

Pavone said the special fund was created a few years ago by several of the group's benefactors and the money can only be used for rewards. "Unfortunately, there are misguided individuals in any cause who sometimes act in ways contrary to the principles of that cause," Pavone said. "In the event any abortionist is ever the victim of violence -- and we earnestly hope this will never happen again -- Priests for Life stands ready to assist financially in the capture of the criminal." -- Kevin Eckstrom

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