The global charity for persecuted Christians, Aid to the Church in Need, will be holding the #RedWeek campaign this month to raise awareness on the need for religious freedom.
Red light will bathe hundreds of cathedrals, churches, monuments, and public buildings around the world as part of an international campaign to raise awareness of the persecution of Christians.
This year’s Religious Freedom in the World report, which is produced by ACN every two years, two-thirds of the world’s population live in countries where there are serious violations of religious freedom.
The numbers are increasing, and such violations now occur, for example, in 42 percent of all African countries: Burkina Faso and Mozambique are just two striking cases.
This year, the #RedWeek campaign will put the spotlight on how girls and women from Christian and other faith minority backgrounds suffer abduction, forced marriage, forced conversion and sexual violence.
Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of ACN, said the campaign is “sending a clear message of solidarity with persecuted Christians throughout the world.”
It is “a way to give a voice to our project partners—those who have been tragically marked by the consequences of persecution,” he said.
“For us, the free exercise of religion is one of the pillars of liberal democracy. Every form of discrimination based upon religious affiliation must be decisively rejected,” said Heine-Geldern.
“Red Week” is taking place this year from November 17-24, starting in Austria with an event in
St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, followed by other countries.
A long list of buildings will be illuminated in red, among them the cathedrals of Montreal and Toronto in Canada, the Basilica of Montmartre in Paris, and major buildings in Slovakia; in Australia schools in six dioceses plan to wear red; and in Belgium, people will light candles for persecuted Christians.
Across the world, Christians will gather to pray for persecuted brothers and sisters, for the right of religious freedom and they will go to church to honor those who are unable to go themselves.
In the Philippines, the “Red Wednesday” event will be held on November 24 with the theme “Red without fear: A Church journeying as one.”
ACN Philippines executive director Msgr. Pedro Santos said two recent events in the local and universal church — the 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines and the preparation toward the Synod of Bishops in 2023 — will be woven in the Philippine observance of “Red Wednesday.”
“This year, we pay tribute to the Filipino martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the Gospel, as well as paying homage to the preparation of the synodal aim to take the path of Christ as one Church,” said Msgr. Santos.
“May the sacrifice of our martyred brethren and love of Jesus Christ live on in our country beyond 500 years of outstanding faith,” he said.
First organized in the United Kingdom in 2016, the Philippines started joining the campaign the following year.
In January 2020, the Philippine bishops’ conference officially institutionalized the annual celebration of Red Wednesday in all dioceses. – with a report from ACN USA.