WARNING: This article contains graphic descriptions and a graphic image of an unborn baby.
Catholic Archbishop Samuel Aquila was not always pro-life or religious. In a letter marking the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, Aquila recounts the horrific sights that influenced him to become a strong advocate for unborn babies.
He explains his transformation on abortion in a letter he titled “40 Years of the Culture of Death.” In his letter on the Archdiocese of Denver website, he writes of his time in college in 1968, five years before Roe opened the doors to abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy. Back then, he had no intention of becoming a bishop. He wanted to be a doctor. That is why he took a job as a hospital orderly and assisted in their emergency room.
What he did not know, however, was that abortion was already legal in some states, including California where he studied. While there, he witnessed the result of two abortions.
The first time, he saw an aborted baby left in a sink. In the second, a young woman came into the hospital emergency room screaming because of an abortion. He says the woman was told that she would pass the remains of the child naturally, and, in the emergency room, she did. With the doctor’s help, a tiny arm was retrieved, then a leg and the rest of the unborn child’s body, “a tiny human being destroyed by violence,” Aquila recalls.
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His story continues:
The memory haunts me. I will never forget that I stood witness to acts of unspeakable brutality. In the abortions I witnessed, powerful people made decisions that ended the lives of small, powerless, children. Through lies and manipulation, children were seen as objects. Women and families were convinced that ending a life would be painless, and forgettable. Experts made seemingly convincing arguments that the unborn were not people at all, that they could not feel pain, and were better off dead.
He describes the experience as awakening him to the truth of the dignity of life from the moment of conception, and made him return to his faith. He writes that Roe v. Wade makes our society view “people as problems and objects.”
Lamenting the damage that abortion has caused, he calls on Christians to bear some responsibility for the shame of abortion, for too little has been done to change minds or win hearts for life.
He continues, “Catholic political leaders who claim that they can separate the truths of faith from their political lives are choosing to separate themselves from truth, from Christ, and from the communion of the Catholic Church.”
Aquila, currently the Catholic archbishop in Denver, Colorado, remains haunted by what he saw almost 50 years ago, and believes that banning abortion should be the primary political objective for American Catholics.
“It is difficult to imagine any political issue with the same significance as the sanctioned killing of children,” he says.