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Faithful for life: the autobiography of Father Paul Marx, OSB.

Human Life International, 4 Family Life, Front Royal, VA, 22630, 1997, 385 pages, soft cover $16 (U.S.)

This is a very readable account of the life and work of the best-known and best-informed pro-life apostle in the world, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. And it is supplemented by dozens of photographs.

It begins with his birth in 1920 and his early years in a wonderful large German family on a farm in Minnesota. Paul went to high school at St. John's Benedictine. Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, and entered the Benedictine novitiate in 1941 while he was in college there. He was ordained in 1947. After teaching in St. John's High School for five years he completed his doctorate in sociology at the Catholic University of America in 1956, and began teaching in St. John's University. He taught, in particular, a popular course in family sociology.

In 1972 Father Marx founded the Human Life Centre at the university, published The Death Peddlers, and began to organize pro-life resistance to the International Planned Parenthood Federation. In 1973 Pope Paul VI said to him: "You are a courageous fighter; never give up." Father Marx has spent most of his later life traveling to ninety-one countries, many of them several times, warning bishops, priests, and pro-life laity about the evils of contraception, sterilization, abortion, and bad sex-education programs. He has also encouraged Natural Family Planning and has arranged training courses for teachers of it.

Forced out

In 1980 the authorities at St. John's Abbey and St. John's University, by underhanded means, forced Father Marx to leave Collegeville and his Human Life Center and carry on his pro-life work elsewhere. The full story of this persecution is told in this book. Benedictines at St. John's, including Father Marx's own brother, Father Michael Marx, OSB, signed a statement contradicting Humanae vitae, Pope Paul IV's official teaching concerning contraception, and the faculty at St. John's University overwhelmingly refused to endorse a statement opposing abortion. Father Marx then went to Washington, with little but an automobile, and started Human Life International, which today is by far the largest pro-life institution in the world. In the same year Pope John Paul II told him: "You are doing the most important work on earth."

Father Marx comments on the countries he has visited, where he has conducted seminars and symposia, and distributed tons of literature and films. He gives brief histories of pro-life efforts in these countries, and mentions many of the world's leading pro-lifers. Many of them, like Father Marx himself, have been persecuted.

Besides being persecuted he has been maligned. In this book he answers quite effectively six charges brought against him by his enemies, who often are connected with Planned Parenthood: (1) that he engages in bishop-bashing; (2) that he is divisive; (3) that he is anti-woman; (4) that he is anti-semitic; (5) that he is anti-Muslim; (6) that he is racially prejudiced.

The book contains many interesting statements, as we might expect. Here are some samples:

* In Russia we were told by hospital authorities and medical people that there were at least seven or eight abortions for every married woman in her lifetime . . . and that only about 35 per cent of Russian women were capable of carrying a child in utero for nine months and then giving healthy births, chiefly because of Russia's 77-year history of aborting.

* Switzerland has the highest proportional number per capita of AIDS victims in Europe.

* Women soldiers in the Israeli army are allowed payment for two abortions a year.

* The Society of the Divine Word province in Japan sponsored a pro-contraception booklet.

* It was always hard to leave the thoroughly Catholic Filipinos, who have inherited the mission that the Irish used to have, namely, to bring Catholicism to the whole world. . . The Philippines, with its marvelous hierarchy, is now our gateway to the rest of Asia, including China.

* In Japan over 80 per cent of women have had at least one abortion and often more. One native Japanese nun, an obstetrical nurse, told me that she knew a woman who had had sixteen abortions.

* Gandhi is quoted as saying that the difference between a wife who uses contraception and a prostitute who uses it is that the one gets paid and the other does not.

* The average completed-family size in Canada is 1.8 children, with the lowest birthrate in North America being recorded in Catholic, French-speaking Quebec, where some 7,000,000 Catholics have 1.4 children per family. (Editor: Today the rate has gone down further to 1.19.)

* All things considered, it is my judgment that the anti-life situation in Canada is considerably worse than in the United States.

* In France, Michele Guy asked me several times why a man with a sterilized wife so often gets another woman pregnant.

* To this day, very few Dutch people go to church on Sunday in this country where the Pope was miserably treated and where wild and trendy priests have offered Mass with women co-celebrants. According to surveys, some nineteen thousand people are killed by euthanasia yearly. . . At least one-fifth of these many euthanasia killings are involuntary. Infants with Down's Syndrome are routinely starved to death.

* Rare is the pro-lifer at the world-famous "Catholic" university of Louvain, where at its hospital they do abortions and engage in the immoral in vitro fertilization.

* Muggeridge explained that, when people lose their sense of God, sex becomes their main preoccupation.

* In every country of the world - bar none - widespread contraception has always led to abortion.

* One cannot get too much Chesterton, the wise convert: . . The moment sex ceases to be a servant it becomes a tyrant.

* The vast majority of fertile Catholic parents are practicing contraception or unknowingly using abortifacients; some have been sterilized. Some have deliberately and knowingly chosen chemical, mechanical, or surgical abortion.

* Most parents, bishops, priests, and religious seem to think that sex-ed promotes chastity. However all studies everywhere in the world show that modern classroom sex education has been a complete failure.

* Most Americans, most Catholics, and (one can safely say) most bishops, priests, and religious are not aware of the abortifacient character of most types of contraception.

* There are 1.6 million surgical abortions reported annually in the United States. The founding president of Pharmacists for Life International, Dr. Bogamir Kuhar, attempts to track the true number of abortions - not merely the surgical abortions - in the United States. He estimates that in 1996 there were between nine and twelve million.

* More than sixty nations in the world are not replacing their populations.

* There are 1500 mosques in Germany alone. By the year 2000 there will be more Muslims than Catholics in the world for the first time in history.

* I can assure the reader that, after working for the longest time in the greatest number of countries and meeting innumerable true-blue pro-lifers, I have found that all these pro-lifers say the greatest obstacle is bishops, priests, religious and - not least - theologians. Of course, there are exceptions in every category (Editor: the most important of whom is the Holy Father).
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Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 1997
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