This is a fast paced, exhausting journey of a man whose energy, commitment, and evident love for God and His creatures, especially children, propel him around the world in an effort to slow the spreading appeal of abortion and the slackening standards of sexual behaviour. It is a tour full of vibrancy, colour, enthusiasm, and forcefulness. Fr. Marx is a man to be reckoned with, an indefatigable fighter for the unborn and the defenceless.
The book is a compilation of Fr. Marx’s traveling diary entries from 1081, when he established Human Life International (devoted “to spreading the pro-life/pro-family gospel”), to January, 1988.
Fr. Marx is single-minded. He is tireless in his efforts to bring the message of life to countless nations whose descent into the darkening abyss would proceed apace were it not for him and HLI. He has a strong character and is quite unwilling to tread lightly when confronting the evils of abortion and euthanasia. Some of his best vituperative language is reserved for the noxious Planned Parenthood and its murderous minions. To my mind there could be no better recipient!
As would be expected from a Roman Catholic religious, Fr. Marx shows particular concern for the health of his church in each of the countries he visits. His assessments of its health are vigorous and on target, although he is clearly pained by what he sees. Of American nuns, he writes, “I am shocked by their naïveté, their lack of understanding of the kind of society and Church we live in today, their rebellion – and yes, their loss of faith” [p. 140].
Wherever life is being destroyed, whether by abortion, euthanasia, imprisonment, torture, or simple Communist oppressiveness, Fr. Marx is outraged. His antipathy for Communism surfaces in descriptions such as this: “To cross the border from prison-like Hungary to Yugoslavia at first seems like a fresh breath of air. But soon you breathe in the familiar stench of Marxist inhumanities” [p. 325].
Courageous in his fight against abortion, Fr. Marx is also unafraid of holding unfashionable political views. He says of South Africa that “despite its sin, [it] must be the most lied-about country on earth. The international liberal media report only the bad, never the good things the government does. No one can justify the evil of apartheid, but only naïve leftists, and too many bishops think you can get rid of it overnight without the bloody chaos that now reigns in Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique” [p. 97].
Fr. Marx rightly seems himself at war with those who are at war with humanity. He “invades” [p. 81] countries and conducts propaganda barrages of films and written material in support of natural family planning and against pornography, abortion, sex education and the like. He’s a one-man assault force, undaunted by the numbers arrayed against him.
In this book, Fr. Paul Marx is confessing nothing if not his love for God’s gift of life and his strong desire to fight those who, out of convenience or ideology, would destroy it. It is good reading for anyone interested in the state of the global war against abortion. I recommend it for its factual material, for its vigour and charm, and for its intimate details of the world-wide pro-life movement. Mostly, I recommend it for the glimpse it gives of its colourful and tireless author who works so diligently on behalf of the unborn.
W. J. Douglas Ball is a free-lance author living in Mississauga, Ontario.
The Journeys of Fr. Paul Marx, OSB
Confessions of a Pro-life Missionary is available from the publications division of Human Life International, 7845-E Airpark Rd., Gaithersburg, MD 20879.