The pro-life movement has lost one of its original warriors and one of the most dedicated and effective pro-life leaders in the history of the pro-life movement.

Joe Scheidler, the founder of Chicago’s Pro-Life Action League, was an indefatigable fighter for human life and a stellar example of a Catholic husband and father. He was known as “The Godfather of the Pro-Life Movement” for his nearly half-century of full-time activism in defense of human life, and because he literally wrote the book on pro-life activism, “CLOSED: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion.”

Human Life International’s founder, Fr. Paul Marx, O.S.B., and Joe first met in 1973. They became close friends and colleagues, participating in several international missions together. Joe credited Fr. Marx with spurring him on to full time pro-life activism and for being his pro-life mentor.

Joe Scheidler (right) with Fr. Paul Marx, O.S.B. 1997

While Joe has worked tirelessly for unity in the pro-life movement, he stood for truth and did not compromise his core beliefs, regardless of the consequences. As with his longtime friend, Fr. Marx, Joe was one of the few pro-life leaders who boldly and unapologetically spoke about the link between contraception and abortion.

Joe was truly a role model for all those involved in building a culture of life. Although he has gone from our sight, he has left a wondrous legacy, his wife Ann, his son Eric and all of his other children and grandchildren to carry on the fight, along with thousands of other pro-lifers he brought into our movement.

On the occasion of Joe’s passing from this world, I am reminded of the late Congressman Henry Hyde’s well-known quote:

When the time comes as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I’ve often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates; you are there alone standing before God – and a terror will rip through your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there will be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world – and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, “Spare him because he loved us,” – and God will look at you and say not, “Did you succeed?” but “Did you try?”

I am quite certain Joe, who did not turn away from what had to be done, trying with all his heart and strength to defend the weak and defenseless, was heralded by a chorus of little ones, proclaiming before the Almighty, “Spare him because he loved us.”

We entrust our brother to the Lord, thanking Him for the gift of Joe’s long and fruitful life. May He receive His faithful servant into paradise.

Rest in Peace, Joe.