DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) – The pro-life ministry 40 Days for Life, known for its 40-day prayer vigils in front of abortion mills, has decided to suspend its spring 2020 campaign.
"This was the toughest decision I've made serving as President and CEO of this lifesaving movement," said Shawn Carney, 40 Days for Life's top executive, in a statement written for the 40-Days website; "but I feel it is the right one."
Carney urged pro-life advocates to continue to pray and fast for an end to abortion. "The contemplative always has to come before the active. And we are learning that now more than ever. It is the foundation — prayer and fasting," he said. "There are so many ways that we can be praying. That is our most powerful weapon, against the Devil and against the abortion industry."
Church Militant contacted Steve Karlin, campaign director for 40 Days for Life, who personally confirmed that prayer vigils for the Spring have been temporarily suspended.
Operating its spring and fall prayer vigil campaigns since 2007, 40 Days for Life campaigns have spread to 507 cities in more than 30 countries across the world.
The organization has been monitoring the Wuhan virus outbreak since the beginning of the year as it prepared to launch its spring campaign.
With the outbreak spreading rapidly, by mid-March, 40 Days for Life had limited its events to no more than 50 participants at a time. On March 19, Carney limited the public vigils to ten volunteers at a time. Three days later, the group decided to bring to a halt all public vigils for the 2020 Lenten spring campaign "effective immediately due to the coronavirus pandemic."
As state and local restrictions on social gatherings started to mount, "we just came to the conclusion it was time to go," Carney said. "It's the last thing I thought I would have to do this spring," he said. "[It's] certainly not something I ever want to do again."
On March 22, Carney wrote to the international 40 Days for Life community to inform them of the difficult decision:
It's with a heavy heart that I have decided to end the public vigil portion of the spring 40 Days for Life campaign effective immediately due to the coronavirus pandemic. ... During the remaining days of the campaign, we will unite in prayer, fasting and spiritual union to pray for an end to abortion and this pandemic.
In his letter, Carney mentioned the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen as an inspiration — one who taught that God can bring a greater good out of those bad things that He allows to happen:
[Sheen] said, "When we look at Christ on the Cross, we feel involved." The coronavirus is a cross in our lives and the world right now. We all can't help but feel involved as we adjust our own lives and unite with those health workers on the front lines, government leaders, medical professionals and those families who are sick or have lost loved ones. We are all involved, and I pray this cross does not go without drawing my family, your family and our broken world closer to Jesus Christ. For He can't help but bring good out of this if we stay close to Him during this difficult time.
Carney is encouraging pro-life prayer warriors to keep their own vigils at home. As Church Tradition confirms, he notes that prayer and fasting can move God to release grace in mysterious ways, and reminds pro-lifers everywhere that the lives of the unborn continue to depend on them.