Dear Colleague:

Our Founder and Chairman, Father Paul Marx, O.S.B., had more than one
encounter with our dear departed Pope John Paul II, as he recounts below.
Steven W. Mosher

John Paul II, The Apostle of Life
By Father Paul Marx, OSB

I remember well my first meeting with Pope John Paul II on 17 November
1979.  By then, I had been active in the pro-life arena for over a decade
from my post at the Human Life Center at St. John's University, always
taking the total life approach.  The Pope came up to me and stunned me by
saying, "I know who you are, Father Marx."  "Is there a little bit of Karl
in you?" he continued, referring to the 19th century founder of Communism,
Karl Marx.

"Only through Adam and Eve," I responded.

The Pope chuckled.  "Maybe you can make up for some of the evil things
that he did."

The Pope had just returned from his first visit to the United States.  He
had addressed the life issues at every stop.  In Washington, he had told
the audience, "When God gives life, He gives it forever."  Then in
Chicago, speaking to the American Catholic hierarchy, he had roundly
condemned contraception.

"Thank you for condemning contraception," I told him.  "I have been in 48
countries around the world.  I have always found that contraception leads
inevitably to abortion.  I can find no exception to this rule, and no one
has ever been able to point one out to me."

The Pope agreed wholeheartedly.  "I am thoroughly convinced of the same
relationship," he nodded.  "I have promoted Natural Family Planning in my
marriage preparation courses in Polish parish centers."

I told him that I had held a dozen conferences on Natural Family Planning
to promote this wonderful method for regulating human procreation.  There
was a pause in the conversation-I think that he was praying-and then he
said, "You have lots of experience.  You must bring this pro-life movement
all over the world.  If you do that, you will be doing the most important
work on earth.  Surely the Americans will help you."

That phrase-the most important work on earth-rang in my ears, and I vowed
to redouble my efforts for life.

In the years that followed, Pope John Paul II wrote and spoke many times
against the related evils of contraception, sterilization and abortion.
He consistently presented a positive vision of human sexuality.  If there
is one thing a married couple should understand on their wedding day, he
made clear in Familiaris Consortio, it is how to control their fertility
responsibility, lovingly, and generously.

The Pope also spoke directly to those in charge of the machines of the
culture of death.  In 1984, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was
gearing up to hold a major conference in Mexico City on Population and
Development.  The Pope summoned the head of UNFPA, the fallen-away
Filipino Catholic Rafael Salas, to meet with him.  Salas received a
tongue-lashing, in the politest language, from the Pontiff, who reminded
Salas that it is immoral to promote abortion, sterilization, and
contraception, or to bribe nations into reducing their populations.  Not
long before, Salas had boasted that UNFPA had already spent $80 million on
population control on our brothers and sisters south of the border.

Totally in touch with God, and therefore His instrument, Pope John Paul II
had a way of always saying the right things in the right way for the right
people-never mincing words, never being misunderstood, never having to
explain what he really meant.  Visiting India, the Pope cited Indian hero
Mahatma Gandhi in condemning artificial, inhuman methods of birth control
in that country.  The Indians cheered wildly.  Visiting the U.S. in 1987,
the Pope reminded us: "That is the dignity of America, the reason she
exists, the condition of her survival, yes, the ultimate test of her
greatness: to respect every human person, especially the weak and most
defenseless ones, those as yet unborn."

We met again in 1991, and the Pope greeted me like an old friend.  It was
then, after again pausing for a moment in prayer, that he called me "the
Apostle of Life."  These words as well have stayed with me over the years,
inspiring me to make more journeys, to give more talks, to write more

But, of course, it was really Pope John Paul II who deserved this title
himself.  Along with so many others.
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