HLI is honored to present our founder Fr. Paul Marx, whom Pope John Paul II called “the Apostle of Life,” with the Cardinal von Galen Award for distinguished and unwavering service in the cause of life, faith, and family.
Already as a young Benedictine priest, he began working in the 1950s and 60s helping thousands of young couples to live chaste marital lives. At that time he observed that the main promoters of artificial contraception were also those pushing to legalize abortion. Father Marx spoke out vigorously against Planned Parenthood and defended the Church’s teaching on sexual morality as proclaimed in the 1968 papal encyclical Humanae vitae. In 1971, even before the legalization of abortion in the United States, Father infiltrated a pro-abortion conference in California and exposed the evil agenda of the abortionists in a book called “The Death Peddlers” which has sold tens of thousands of copies. He then took his message to the whole world to warn them of the storm of abortion that was coming from the West.
In 1972, Fr. Marx formed the Human Life Center at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and through the Human Life Center sponsored international conferences to train people to fight the anti-life movement, which was gaining momentum around the world.
In 1981, Fr. Marx moved to Washington D.C., and with a few dollars in his pocket, a broken-down car, and the Holy Spirit as his guide, founded an international network of pro-life professionals, which he called Human Life International. We have lived up to our prophetic mission by spreading to over 80 countries, and the work continues to grow. HLI is now the largest pro-life organization in the world. People on every continent of the world look with gratitude to Fr. Paul Marx as the person who brought them into the pro-life movement. Dr. Antun Lisec of Croatia gave up his profession as a surgeon and saves even more lives than he could by practicing medicine because Fr. Marx gave him the opportunity to work full time in pro-life work. The same is true for Dr. Rene Bullecer in the Philippines and for many other full-time defenders of life.
Christ raises up men and women in every age to carry on His mission, and it is in this context that we must see the life’s work of Fr. Paul Marx. For over 35 years he has given his life to laboring in the vineyard where the Lord asked him to go and preach respect for the precious gift of human life. The world has truly been blessed to have such an effective recruiter and organizer for the culture of life. It is humbling to record that his pro-life zeal led him to travel to even more countries than his contemporary, Pope John Paul II. His autobiography is entitled “Faithful for Life,” but “Fruitful for Life” is a more apt description of him. His energy and workaholic ways are reflected in the other titles of books he wrote; “The Flying Monk” and “The Warehouse Priest.” Fr. Marx showed us how to proclaim the gospel of life in season and out of season to the four corners of the earth. We are grateful for the trust and inspiration he has given HLI to carry the work forward.