Numerous studies have consistently shown that Christians are the most persecuted faith group in the world. A study by Open Doors, a Christian advocacy group, reveals that the global persecution of Christians has risen for the past four consecutive years. Another study by the Center for New Religions published findings that over 90,000 Christians were murdered in 2016. That is equivalent to one Christian being murdered for the faith every six minutes. Furthermore, the study reveals that half a billion Christians are unable to freely express their faith. These findings affirm the declaration of Pope Francis that there are more Christians suffering today than there were in the early years of Christianity.
Given that our country is predominantly Christian, Filipinos find it difficult to grasp a reality where Christians can be persecuted. Many are not even aware of how difficult it is to practice the Christian faith in some areas of Muslim Mindanao. Since Christianity has been deeply ingrained in the fabric of Philippine society, we seem to have developed a blind spot regarding the nature and scale of Christian persecution in the world today.
For this reason, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Pontifical charity organization dedicated to serving the needs of persecuted Christian communities worldwide, is launching a Red Wednesday campaign to create awareness among Filipino Christians about the severity of Christian persecution. Red is the color of martyrdom in the Christian faith. The Red Wednesday campaign will shine a light on religious persecution and will honor all Christians who have suffered and died for Christ.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has endorsed the Red Wednesday campaign by inviting all cathedrals, minor basilicas and national & diocesan shrines to illuminate their façade in red. Furthermore, several Catholic universities in Manila have also expressed interest to join the campaign. On November 22, after the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, a program will be held to discuss the significance of the illumination of the said structures which will then be followed by a communal prayer for persecuted Christians.
In solidarity with Christians who suffer for their faith, ACN invites everyone to make a visible statement by wearing red and, if resources allow, light their own parishes or respective buildings or local monuments in red.
Let Red Wednesday be the start for Filipinos to lend their voice to the global call to uphold religious freedom and advocate for inter-faith harmony. As one global Christian family, may our experssion of solidarity be a witness to the power of love over hate and be a source of strength and comfort for Christians all over the world by sending a message that they are not alone and that we are one with them in fighting for a better world where acceptance, love and respect for each other is the ultimate expression of faith in God.
Aid to the Church in Need supports Christians wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or suffering material need. Every year the charity responds to more than 5,000 requests for aid from bishops and religious superiors in around 140 countries, including: funding training for seminarians and priests; printing Bibles and religious literature; supporting priests and religious in difficult circumstances; building and restoring churches and chapels; broadcasting religious programmes; and helping refugees.
In November 2016, to promote the latest Religious Freedom in the World report, ACN launched its first-ever Red Wednesday campaign in the United Kingdom. Key buildings, churches and schools were lit in red including Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, Houses of Parliament, and the University of Oxford.
The Red Wednesday gained regional and international media and internet coverage. The overall feedback was remarkable with parliamentarians, church leaders, other faith groups and teachers appealing to Aid to the Church in Need to make this an annual event, therefore making a commitment to grow this campaign and make this an annual event.
This initiative of the UK office of ACN has since been adopted by other countries. To complement their own respective awareness campaigns for persecuted Christians, famous landmarks around the world were lighted in red including the Fontana De Trevi in Italy, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in France and the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Brazil.
The Red Wednesday Campaign in the Philippines intends to achieve the following objectives:
#RedWednesdayPH brings together Christians and other faith communities in the Philippines in a positive and united vision of religious belief which: