The pro-life group 40 Days for Life began its 2021 Lenten prayer campaign on Wednesday, after the coronavirus pandemic forced the unprecedented suspension of its public vigils last year.
40 Days for Life organizes two annual prayer campaigns, with its spring campaign taking place during the liturgical season of Lent. Participants are encouraged to peacefully pray outside of abortion clinics for an end to abortion.
Steve Karlen, director of campaigns for 40 Days for Life, told CNA in an interview that this year’s Lenten campaign is the largest in the group’s history, taking place in 567 cities.
“It’s not just the biggest one, it’s the most important one, because we’ve seen unprecedented attacks on the dignity of human life,” Karlen said.
He noted the importance of prayer, saying that “we don’t have political power, we don’t have Wall Street or Silicon Valley or Hollywood on our side, but we do have God on our side, so I think it’s an opportunity for us to turn to him.”
On Wednesday, the first day of the campaign, Karlen said that the group encountered an expectant mother who decided not to go through with her decision to have an abortion. Participants in Chicago and London also arrived at prayer vigils to find that abortion facilities had closed, including one late-term abortion facility in London.
“They closed right before the vigils started, but we always see those as an answer to prayer,” he said. “Sometimes I think God does some of his best work when the deck is completely stacked against us.”
The ministry has been active in more than 30 countries and 507 cities worldwide since it began in 2007. On March 22, 2020, however, 40 Days for Life curtailed its public vigils outside abortion clinics due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nearly one year later, the ministry is dedicated to a successful campaign after last year’s suspension.
“So this year we really put a lot of effort in and trained our leaders extensively on how to handle this,” Karlen said, adding that the group advised campaign leaders to abide by the local, state, and federal health guidelines.
“That will keep them safe, it will keep their volunteers safe, and will keep everybody law-abiding as well,” he said.
Karlen said he hopes pro-lifers who are able will participate in-person, and those who are not will join in prayer from home.
“Certainly pray from home, from Church, from wherever you are, those prayers are going to be answered,” Karlen said.
As CNA reported on Wednesday, pro-life activists in Pforzheim, Germany, are in court fighting a city government which prohibited them from praying outside an abortion clinic.