By Vatican News staff writer
Every year, thousands of people turn out for the March for Life rally in peaceful protest against the legality and practice of abortion, and in defense of the right to life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.
The rally is usually held in January, on or around the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion in the United States.
This year, however, the organizers of the annual March for Life announcedthat the event would now take place virtually, due to the ongoing Covid-19 health emergency and heightened security concerns in the nation’s capital.
Concern for lives and safety of participants
The Chairman of the US Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, issued a statement on Tuesday about the change in format of the annual event and invited the participation of all.
“As long-time participants in the annual March for Life, my brother bishops and I commend the march organizers for their concern for the lives and safety of all participants. The countless, peaceful, pro-life marchers who would normally gather each year should not be put at risk,” said Archbishop Naumann.
In a statement on Friday announcing the change in format, the organizers of the March for Life noted that “The protection of all of those who participate in the annual March, as well as the many law enforcement personnel and others who work tirelessly each year to ensure a safe and peaceful event, is a top priority of the March for Life.”
“In light of the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic which may be peaking, and in view of the heightened pressures that law enforcement officers and others are currently facing in and around the Capitol, this year’s March for Life will look different,” the statement said. “The annual rally will take place virtually and we are asking all participants to stay home and to join the March virtually.”
“We will invite a small group of pro-life leaders from across the country to march in Washington DC this year”, the statement noted. “These leaders will represent pro-life Americans everywhere who, each in their own unique ways, work to make abortion unthinkable and build a culture where every human life is valued and protected.”
Invitation to pray together
Archbishop Naumann noted that “peaceful prayer and witness must and will continue this year – just in a different format.”
He, therefore, invited all to join in a nationwide novena from 21-29 January “in preparation for the virtual March for Life and in observance of the annual Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children on January 22.”
As part of the novena, dioceses all over the US are live-streaming Masses, Rosaries, Holy Hours, and more for the protection of human life. The faithful can also receive daily intentions, brief reflections and suggested actions by signing up on 9 Days for life, a web page dedicated to the novena for the protection of human life.
On 29 January, interested participants can follow the virtual event on the March for Life website.