Steven Mosher recently visited Fr. Paul Marx, legendary founder of PRI and many other pro-life organizations worldwide, at St. John’s Abbey, Minnesota, where he now resides. He found Fr. Marx, now in his eightieth year, in good health and spirits, and still fighting for life. Father Marx, who has a doctorate in sociology, has long been interested in population questions.
Steven Mosher: “Fr. Marx, could you tell us why you founded Population Research Institute back in 1989?”
Fr. Marx: “I founded PRI because I saw the need for an organization to combat the myth of overpopulation. I wanted to publicize the dramatic fall in birth rates, especially in the developed countries. As you well know, about half the countries in the world, including all the developed countries in the world, now have a non-reproductive birthrate. Entire nations are dying out.”
Steven Mosher: “Father, you’ve traveled to 92 countries around the globe. Take us on a quick tour de force.”
Fr. Marx: “The US Census Bureau reports show that the roughly 2 children per family of our own country is the highest for developed nations. Of course, even this is below replacement. We need 2.l children per family in the industrialized nations to replace ourselves. Our nation is aging fast, with more than 30 million people 65 years or older, and the social security system will soon be under strain, Of course, our problems are mitigated by relatively high levels of immigration, which bring roughly a million people, mostly young and Hispanic, across our borders each year.
“Most of the developed countries are far worse off than we are. Take Europe, for example. There the average family has only 1.4 children. Russia’s averaging only a little over one child per family and that, combined with bad vodka and the hopelessness born of poverty, is shrinking the Russian population by nearly one million people each year. Spain and Italy, too, are averaging only a little over one child per family, and have shrinking populations. The only reproductive country in Europe is tiny Moslem Albania with 2.5 children, and the International Planned Parenthood Federation is there working overtime to bring down the birthrate! Europe is holding off complete demographic collapse by permitting immigration from North Africa and the Middle East. Without the millions of Moslems streaming into Europe, the situation would be bleak indeed, but these immigrants create cultural problems of their own.
“Amazingly, Australia and New Zealand, with their sparse populations and wide open spaces, are not replacing themselves!
“Japan is currently averaging only 1.38 children per family. Despite a shortage of skilled workers and a stagnant economy, Japan still remains unfriendly to immigrants, accepting very few.”1
Steven Mosher: “What about the developing world?”
Fr. Marx: “China — which you know better than I — has a non-reproductive birth-rate because of the one-child policy. Baby girls are slaughtered in enormous numbers — we cannot know the exact number. Traditionally, China had a serious imbalance in the sexes because of female infanticide. This problem is back with a vengeance.
“In India, whose population will in the near future surpass that of China, birthrates are falling fast because of contraception, abortifacients, sterilization, and surgical abortion. Here, too, there is a developing imbalance of the sexes as couples selectively abort unborn baby girls. Both China and India will have serious problems in the future because of this.
“In South America, too, birthrates are falling quickly to replacement levels or below. Contraception, abortifacients, sterilization, and abortion are spreading, pushed by our government. Peru’s sterilization campaign, which you and your staff have done such good work exposing, is one example.
“Africa, the second largest continent on earth, is afflicted with a massive AIDS epidemic. This creates a multitude of problems, not least parents dying and leaving their small children orphans. The children often are little cared for, given the lack of resources.”
Steven Mosher: “What do you see as the consequences of this downturn in births?”
Fr. Marx: “Who will take care of the old? Given such low birthrates, who will take care of the increasing numbers of elderly? Government programs will be hard pressed to take care of the old in the future, both in the US and in all developed countries — to say nothing of the developing world.
“Who will serve the Church as priests and religious? The big reason for the lack of religious vocations throughout the Western world, not least in the US, is the low birthrate. Studies show that priests and religious come from larger families, from more generous parents. Undoubtedly, the vocations problem in the Western world is in large part clue to low birth-rates, itself a reflection of declining faith and increasing selfishness.”
Steven Mosher: “What is your view of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (“On Human Life”) today, 32 years after its publication?”
“How right Pope Paul VI was, He was so maligned when he issued Humanae Vitae in 1968. Yet the years have shown that he predicted with amazing accuracy the consequences of birth control. Because of abortifacient contraception and sterilization, we have seen an upsurge in divorce, in marital separations, in surgical abortions, in pervasive materialism, in premarital pregnancies, and a host of other social ills, not least of which is ever lower birthrates. We can’t say that we weren’t warned that sinful birth control has the most serious demographic consequences.
“The last three decades have vindicated 20 centuries of Catholic teaching about marriage and the family like never before. It’s great to belong to a Church that’s right when the world is wrong! The great geneticist Dr. Jerome LeJeune once observed that Humanae Vitae will turn out to be the greatest encyclical of all time because it saved mankind, even if not individual nations, from extinction.”
Steven Mosher: “What is your vision for the future of PRI?”
Fr. Marx: “We must expose and defeat the myth of overpopulation. We must end the war on people, and defund government-funded population control programs. I was pleased to see that PRI’s research on Peru has led Congress to cut the Clinton Administration’s budget for population control spending by SB 169 million. We need more victories like this one. And we need to promote pro-natal attitudes in an anti-child culture, as you are doing in your writings and speeches.”
Steven Mosher: “I am glad to know that our work has your blessing.”
Fr. Marx: “The Holy Father once said to me that I was doing ‘the most important work on earth.’ I want everyone to know that PRI is continuing my legacy, and that I pray for its continued success, and for its generous supporters, every day.”
1 See President’s Page for more on Japan’s current demographic crisis.