The papal charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) reminded Filipinos that the annual “Red Wednesday” observance on November 24 should not be used for whatever political ends.
“[W]e would like to underline that the … Catholic celebration, Red Wednesday, is an inter-religious cause dedicated for the stand for religious freedom against our persecuted brothers and sisters,” read the organization’s statement posted on its social media account.
“We hope and pray that this day of dedication will not be misrepresented and used for any other cause or motive,” it said, adding that “above all, the color red is the color of blood.”
The papal charity for persecuted Christians said blood has been shed so that Filipinos “may enjoy 500 years of blessings.”
“Blood shed for our 500 years of graces. This blood is love – the love of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the love of St. Pedro Calungsod, and the love of all our martyrs,” said the organization.
ACN called on Filipinos to “rise to be Red Without Fear.” It said that “for being Red Without Fear means professing Christ without fear. It is loving without fear.”
In the Diocese of Legazpi, Bishop Joel Baylon asked priests in his diocese to offer Masses for the special intentions of Christians and all those undergoing persecution.
He said that wearing or displaying the color red shall be left to the discretion of the individual, “avoiding as we must any misconceptions of affiliations with any political party or group.”
This year’s “Red Wednesday,” a Church event to support Christians persecuted for their faith around the world, carries the theme is “Red without fear: A Church journeying as one.”
In previous years, ACN has been tackling issues of religious persecution as main highlights for the “Red Wednesday” campaign.
For 2021, however, ACN Philippines executive director Msgr. Pedro Santos said that they will be weaving together two of the 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.
“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.
ACN is inviting parishes to join the day of remembrance by lighting the facade of their respective churches in red from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
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.