On March 20 Father Paul Marx passed away. He founded Human Life International and was involved in pro-life activism for forty years. Pope John Paul II called him “the Apostle of Life.” And President Ronald Reagan once said to him, “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.”
Over a decade ago I reviewed one of his books, Faithful for Life which was his autobiography. Since Billy Graham also had an autobiography released in 1997, I reviewed both books together, as I found some interesting similarities between the two men. I present here what I wrote back in October of 1997:
Faithful for Life: The Autobiography of Father Paul Marx.
Human Life International, 1997.
Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham.
There are many striking parallels between the subjects of the above two autobiographies. Both of these men have devoted most of their long lives to seeking to rescue people headed for destruction: Billy Graham, preaching the gospel to save those from a lost eternity, and Fr Marx, seeking to rescue the unborn from the abortionist.
A number of other similarities emerged: both are nearly 80; both grew up in rural America on dairy farms; both men’s families lost nearly all in the great depression; and both knew early on that they were to make an impact on their world.
Both men have rejected racism, ensuring that blacks and whites alike took part in their work. Also, both recognised the importance of working together with people from differing religious persuasions. Thus Marx made a point of working with Protestants where possible, and Graham encouraged working together with Catholics. Both also sought to work with Jewish groups as well whenever feasible. Thus ethnic and religious bigotry were notably absent from their ministries.
Early on in his ministry Graham had made a point of ensuring that no hint of scandal be found in his organisation. Back in 1948 he and his team decided to set out a group of resolutions which would guide their work in the future. The first point was to be totally open and accountable concerning finances. The second commitment was to avoid all hints of sexual immorality. Third, the team resolved to always work together with local churches, and seek unity wherever possible. Fourth, they determined to be unflinchingly honest about numbers – the number of conversions, etc. No exaggerations, no misrepresentations.
Between these two men, probably every country on earth has been visited. They are both remarkable for their travels and countless speaking engagements. Many a younger man would not have kept up with the gruelling schedules, the sleepless nights and the strange surroundings. Both men, although now well advanced in years, are still fully devoted to their cause, although Graham is slowed down by Parkinson’s disease.
Father Marx was of course the founder of Human Life International, the world’s largest pro-life movement. His work on behalf of the unborn, as well as for other pro-life and pro-family causes (euthanasia, sex education, etc) has been an inspiration to many, and has done much to slow down the on-rush of pro-death movements. Billy Graham is founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the world’s largest evangelistic organisation. He has spoken to millions of people about the gospel, more than any other preacher in history.
Both men have been to Australia on numerous visits. On one visit to Australia, when South Australia legalised abortion in 1970, Fr Marx gave 31 lectures in 30 days to stave off further attempts to spread abortion. He left behind a manuscript on euthanasia which was published as The Mercy Killers. Well over a million copies were to be sold or distributed.
Billy Graham is best known for his overflow crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. On one Sunday afternoon in March 1959, 143,750 people crammed into the Melbourne Cricket Ground to hear Graham preach. It was his largest crowd to date, and the biggest crowd ever assembled at the MCG. Graham’s largest audience was in Seoul, Korea, in 1973, when over one million people crowded into an open air plaza to hear him speak.
These books are a shot in the arm for those of us engaged in pro-faith, pro-life and pro-family battles.