Benedictine Father Paul Marx, the founder and former president of Human Life International, died March 20 in Minnesota at St. Cloud Hospital. He was 89.
A Funeral Mass was celebrated March 26 at St. John’s Abbey Church in Collegeville, Minn., followed by interment in St. John’s Cemetery.
“In the 40-year pro-life career of Father Marx, and through his 3 million miles of world travel, Human Life International saw the blossoming of the world’s conscience about the issues of life,” said Father Thomas J. Euteneuer, Father Marx’s successor as the organization’s president.
Often referred to as “the father of the international pro-life movement,” Father Marx visited all 50 states and 91 countries in his four decades of pro-life activism.
Father Marx, who was born in St. Michael, Minn., liked to point out that he was born 10 days before the late Pope John Paul II, who once told him: “You are doing the most important work on earth.”
The 15th child in a family of 17 children, he graduated from St. John’s University, Collegeville, and in 1941 entered the novitiate at St. John’s Abbey. An older brother, Benedictine Father Michael Marx, who died in 1993, entered the novitiate the same year. Father Paul Marx professed vows as a Benedictine monk in 1942, continued his seminary studies and was ordained a priest in 1947. He later earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in sociology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
As a teacher of sociology, he emphasized the family, and natural family planning became a specialized area for him. Some years later he founded and was senior editor of a publication called the Review of Natural Family Planning.
Father Marx founded the sociology department at St. John’s University in 1957 and was department chair until 1970. He developed and founded the Human Life Center at St. John’s, 1972-1980. He founded the Human Life International in Washington in 1981 and served as its leader until 1999. He retired in 2000.
He founded the Population Research Institute in 1989 and is the author of several books with pro-life themes as well as his autobiography, “Faithful for Life.”
President Ronald Reagan once wrote in a letter to Father Marx, “You can be proud of all you’ve done to summon this nation and others to reflection and positive action on issues affecting the sanctity of human life. God bless you.”
Father Marx is survived by his sister, Benedictine Sister Virgene Marx of St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, Minn. —CNS