Human Life International
Human Life International is an American-based Roman Catholic activist pro-life organization. Founded in 1981 by Father Paul Marx (1920–2010), HLI is located in Front Royal, Virginia. Human Life International describes itself as "the largest international pro-life organization in the world", noting that it has affiliates and associates in over 80 nations worldwide. It has collaborated with secular organizations as well as those of various other religious denominations.
Its mission is to train, organize and equip pro-life leaders around the world. The organization is faithful to the Vatican, but works with people of all faiths to advance the pro-life cause.
- Fr Shenan Boquet is President.
- John Martin is Executive Vice President.
- Joseph Meaney is Director of International Coordination.
- Brian Clowes is Director of Research and Training.
- Stephen Phelan is Director of Mission Communications.
According to its web site, Human Life International’s mission is "to defend the God-given right to life and dignity of all human persons from conception until natural death."
The statement continues: "HLI is a Catholic apostolate seeking to respond to our calling as followers of Jesus Christ by building a Culture of Life and of Love around the world through education, outreach, advocacy, and service."
HLI pursues this mission by:
- "Address[ing] all life issues with fidelity to the teaching of the Catholic Church, including: abortion, contraception, chastity, marriage, and family, with love for all of God’s people regardless of their beliefs.
- "Train[ing], organiz[ing] and equip[ping] pro-life leaders around the world to defend life in their home countries.
- "Advocat[ing] in the public square for a clear understanding of authentic, basic, fundamental human rights granted to all people by God.
- "Uphold[ing] and defend[ing] the authentic social and moral teaching of the Catholic Church on issues related to life, marriage, and family."
HLI believes the specific concerns and needs of local communities can be best identified by those who live there. Thus, theirs is primarily an "educational apostolate devoted to empowering our international leaders and the people they serve."
HLI says that it does this by helping its partners:
- Found crisis pregnancy centers
- Teach young couples Natural Family Planning
- Train seminarians to be pro-life priests
- Equip counselors to advise families in crisis
- Educate civic leaders on pro-life issues
- Host pro-life and pro-family radio and television programs
Human Life International (HLI) was established in 1981 as a continuation of the Human Life Center founded by Father Paul Marx OSB at St. John’s University in 1972.
HLI places a high priority on its fidelity to the Magisterium, or official teaching authority, of the Catholic Church. As Fr. Marx once wrote, “HLI’s most important service is to present the moral teaching of the Catholic Church, clear-headed analysis of what’s taking place in society, and, based on its international experience, suggestions for effective ways to deal with problems.” [The Warehouse Priest, page 307]
Fr. Marx was a pioneer in spreading the Church’s teaching about contraception, especially the instruction of Pope Paul VI in Humanae vitae. “HLI was one of the first voices to consistently proclaim that abortion is the fruit of contraception, that foresight contraception often leads to hindsight abortion, and that massive contraception has caused increasing abortion worldwide. Having visited and studied eighty-five countries, I challenge any bishop, priest, professor, or scientist to show me the contrary. Abortion is the end point of the abuse of sex, which begins with the unleashing of the sexual urge by contraception.” [The Warehouse Priest, page 262]
Human Life International began operating in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and opened its current world headquarters in Front Royal, Virginia in 1996. Sponsor of more than 70 international conferences and over 50 conferences in the United States, HLI’s missionaries have inspired and trained pro-life leaders, families, seminarians and students in approximately 160 nations. By establishing connections through conferences, training seminars and pro-life missionary trips, HLI maintains relationships with affiliates and partners in over 80 countries around the world.
Father Shenan J. Boquet assumed the role of president of HLI in November of 2011.
Accusations of Anti-Semitism
HLI founder Marx was criticized by the Anti-Defamation League in 1998, after accusations that he had referred to the "Jewish domination" of the pro-choice movement, as well as commenting that most French pro-choice activists were "Jewish", and once referred to a "female Jewish liar" whom he heard at a Bucharest World Population Conference. He is accused of making further controversial remarks in 1987, comparing abortion to the Holocaust and describing the former as a 'greater holocaust'. These charges are not corroborated with references to HLI's own publications, where the statements were allegedly made.
HLI stated that criticizing pro-choice Jews for their advocacy of abortion no more made Father Marx "anti-Semitic" than his constant criticism of pro-choice Catholics made him "anti-Catholic". HLI also points out that the founder of NARAL, Bernard Nathanson, was an abortionist who became a pro-life activist, including regular collaborations with HLI, and even speaking at HLI conferences. Nathanson, who was Jewish, also called abortion "the most atrocious holocaust in the history of the United States." HLI has challenged its critics to produce evidence of anti-Semitism other than that which appears in its critics' publications.
- About Human Life International
- "Pro life - Human Life International". Hli.org. 2013-05-02. Retrieved 2013-05-13.
- "Press Release - ADL Investigation Reveals Strain of Anti-Semitism in Extreme Factions of the Anti-Abortion Movement". Adl.org. Retrieved 2013-05-13.
- "Confronting the Canadian Anti-Life Network" by Brian Clowes, HLI, 1995, p. 9
- "Confronting the Canadian Anti-Life Network" by Brian Clowes, HLI, 1995, p. 11