From Monsignor Ignacio
HLI Interim President
Human Life International -- and indeed, the entire pro-life movement -- will sorely miss Dr. Bernard Nathanson. He was a great friend to, and collaborator with, HLI and our founder, Fr. Paul Marx, O.S.B., who passed away in April of last year. His courage, knowledge and humor brought light to a difficult struggle, and his knowledge of the inner workings of the abortion industry were priceless.
For years he was a favorite at HLI conferences. His conversion story is well known, and has helped inspire similar conversions. His tales of the distortion tactics the early pro-abortion activists used not only to legalize abortion, but to promote it as an essential aspect of "women's health," were devastating to the credibility of the cause he came to oppose. With palpable regret, he admitted that he and others in the abortion vanguard routinely invented statistics meant to shock people into first allowing, then advocating for, abortion; statistics such as the "thousands" of women who used to die annually from illegal "back alley" abortions.
His groundbreaking films "The Silent Scream" and "Eclipse of Reason," remain startlingly effective in revealing the true nature of abortion and of the movement that strove to enshrine this assault on the unborn in American law.
His post-conversion life story was one of redemption--a struggle to undo as many as possible of the wrongs that he had done. To see such a brilliant man suffer from the knowledge of what had wrought is a painful thing to behold, but to see him courageously and humbly seek to set things right was inspiring, reminding us that sincere repentance leads to an effort to make just reparation of the damages caused. Would that we all could open ourselves to the Grace of true and ongoing conversion, and let Christ reform our lives, change our hearts and guide us toward Him
We are reminded again that no one is beyond redemption, and that the power of Grace is stronger than the power of evil. We have only to avail ourselves of His saving power, and He can help us recover and employ our gifts to His glory, which is all that a true Christian could ask for in this life.
In the early '90's, Dr. Nathanson, who grew up in a Jewish family but had lived his entire adult life without religious faith, came to believe that there was more to redemption than just the undoing of wrong. Only the true forgiveness of his Creator would suffice, so he began a journey that led to his entry into the Church in December of 1996, when he was baptized by the late Cardinal John J. O'Connor. Fr. Marx was one of many who attended his baptism in New York City's St. Patrick's Cathedral on that wintry day, and one of many who basked in the warmth of the soul of a friend who came to know the forgiveness and redemption that only Christ can give.
Indeed, the Lord's ways are amazing. Recently we have witnessed another prominent conversion story, although one in a much earlier stage; that of Mrs. Abby Johnson. The former Planned Parenthood clinic director, whose story is also changing hearts and minds, has only begun as a leader in the defense of the unborn. Of all the parallels between their stories, I see nothing more crucial than the obvious fruitfulness of prayer--of faithful, specific prayer from those who loved them enough to pray for their conversion, and of many others who showed up to pray for them without knowing them. This is also why we promote the offering of the prayer of St. Michael after each Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the conversion of abortionists.
Seeing these examples of the Lord's grace, let us continue our efforts of constant prayer for conversion--for our own ongoing conversion, and for the conversion of those who promote and defend the culture of death. No one is beyond redemption, so have hope! Look at the great things the Lord can do with those who come to see the truth, and choose life. Let this hope imbue our efforts as we work to do His will, even in the face of daunting challenges.
At St. Michael's Chapel at HLI headquarters we will pray that soon the doors of Paradise might be open to receive Dr. Nathanson. So please join us in our prayers for his soul, and for those of all the faithful departed.