Fr. Edward Markley, O.S.B., has begun serving a five-year jail sentence for smashing two suction machines in an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama.

Fr. Markley was sentenced last year, and given a suspended sentence of five years in jail for each baby-killing machine he had destroyed, with a condition that he stay away from the abortion clinic.

Fr. Markley found this condition difficult to tolerate.  After obeying the order for several months, he finally decided that he could not ask others to go to an abortion clinic if he himself was staying away.  In January of this year, he joined a march through Birmingham, past three abortion clinics.  For this violation of the conditions of probation, the judge revoked the suspension, and ordered Fr. Markley to begin serving the sentence.  The judge also specified that Fr. Markley would not be eligible for parole, and would serve the full five years.

Fr. Markley has previously served a 30-day sentence for painting an abortion clinic red, on Father’s Day of 1984.  Although he is not married and has no biological children of his own, he takes his “fatherhood” very seriously and acted paternally on that occasion.

Fr. Markley, a monk of St. Bernard Abbey in Alabama, studied at Catholic University in 1964-65, and lived at St. Anselm’s Abbey in Washington during that year.  He coached at the high school attached to the monastery, where he worked with four students (in a class of 22) who later became pro-life activists, including John Cavanaugh-O’Keefe and Fr. William Ryan, former pro-life coordinator for the Archdiocese of Washington.

Jail has not been bad so far, his friends report.  Fr. Markley has taught criminology courses in the past, and is reported to have said that he is pleased to get some firsthand knowledge of the subject.

During the first two weeks of incarceration, Fr. Markley was in isolation and received no mail.