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One of the United States’ foremost pro-life clerics passed away June 25 in New York.

Bishop Austin Vaughan, an auxiliary bishop of the Catholic archdiocese of New York, was regarded by many as a church leader who was unafraid to take part in the harder front-line work of abortion protest and witnessing. He was the former rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary in suburban New York.

Other than the recently departed Cardinal John O’Connor of New York, few other Catholic faith leaders in the U.S. embraced the pro-life cause so completely.

In addition to preaching against the evils of abortion, Bishop Vaughan took an active role in “Rescue” type operations in the mid-1980s.

In a touching article of commemoration, Thomas Droleskey of The Wanderer newspaper writes that the bishop was “fearless in the face of the police brutality visited upon him when he was arrested during various (pro-life) rescues in the 1980s and early 1990s.”

Mr. Droleskey also described Bishop Vaughan as a cleric who “spoke the truth plainly and without fear of human respect … He was the sort of man who was unafraid to put his own person and liberty on the line in order to bear witness to the fact that each abortion is a mystical attack against our Lord Himself in the person of an unborn child in the womb. His fearlessness in the face of the police brutality visited upon him when he was arrested during the various rescues of the 1980s brought more than a handful of evangelical and fundamentalist Protestants into the Catholic faith.”

Mr. Droleskey recalls that Bishop Vaughan courageously warned former New York Governor Mario Cuomo 10 years ago that he was risking the fires of hell for his support of the killing of unborn children in their mothers’ wombs.

Jim Hughes, National President of Campaign Life Coalition Canada, said Bishop Vaughan’s death is “a tremendous loss following on the heels of Cardinal O’Connor.” Mr. Hughes said the bishop was invited to Canada on numerous occasions and that he gave inspiring pro-life presentations. “He was one of the leading pro-life prelates in North America.”