Mark November 22 red in your calendar. The Philippines is joining this year’s “Red Wednesday”, a campaign to raise awareness on the plight of persecuted Christians and religious freedom, started last year by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) United Kingdom. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has announced the country’s participation this year.
It has requested all bishops to illuminate all cathedrals, national shrines, and minor basilicas with red lights on November 22. So, we can expect the Manila Cathedral, the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church), the Shrine of Mary Queen of Peace or EDSA Shrine and other famous church buildings in the country to be lighted or adorned in red this November 22.
ACN Philippines also invites all parishes, schools, religious organizations and the private sector to join the Red Wednesday campaign by wearing red clothing and posting photos of participation on social media to raise awareness.
Red is considered as the Christian color of martyrdom and it also represents the blood of the faithful who have been killed because of the Christian faith or victims of religious hatred and intolerance. Studies have shown that Christians continue to be the most persecuted faith group in the world.During last year’s Red Wednesday on November 23, England’s famous monuments Westminster Abbey, Palace and Cathedral of Westminster, Portsmouth Cathedral, Lambeth Palace, Stonyhurst College, among others were lit in red. And since, it is an inter-faith event, even the Jewish Liberal Synagogue and the Imam Khoei Islamic Centre participated.
Through the Red Wednesday campaign, according to CBCP, the bishops hope the Catholic faithful will be more sensitive to the plight of persecuted Christians worldwide. Pope Francis has also cited the need to raise awareness about the plight of persecuted Christians. In one of his public sermons, the pope said the martyrs of today are greater in number than those of the first centuries.
The Philippines’ participation in Red Wednesday will also draw attention to the plight of Filipino Catholic Christians, which are among the internally displaced people (IDPs) and hostages in the ongoing tension in Marawi City. Reports say that there are 56 Christians still being held as hostages, including Father Chito Suganob. In fact, it was only recently (on August 25) when the St. Mary’s Cathedral in Marawi was recovered by military forces after extremists group Maute seized the church on May 23.
Will you participate in Red Wednesday activities or wear red on November 22?