Churches in the Philippines turned red on Nov. 24 as Catholics honored persecuted Christians and those who offered their lives for the faith.
Red Wednesday, a global campaign promoted by the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), encourages Christians to stand up for religious freedom and their faith.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines declared the event an official church celebration in 2020 to raise awareness of the plight of persecuted Christians around the world.
“Red Wednesday. Red for our saints. Red for our martyred. Red for our persecuted brothers and sisters,” said a Jesuit-run music ministry in a Facebook post in support of the campaign.
ACN said this year’s theme was “Red without fear: The Church journeying as one.”
“Two hundred million of the world’s Christians cannot live their faith freely. They suffer from oppression or persecution. Although if it difficult to keep a precise count, almost 75 percent of religiously motivated violence is perpetrated against Christians,” an ACN spokesman told Catholic-run Radyo Veritas.
We are wearing red to honor those whose lives are being threatened by corrupt government officials for exposing their anomalous ways
A Filipino youth group said they were commemorating Red Wednesday not only for persecuted Christians because of the faith but also for those who are persecuted for exposing corruption in government.
“Today we wear red not only for our martyrs and saints, although they are important. We are wearing red to honor those whose lives are being threatened by corrupt government officials for exposing their anomalous ways,” Youth for Christ member Alan Sales told UCA News.
He said truth telling was modern-day martyrdom because it exposes corruption and illegal transactions of government officials who must face trial.
“Red Wednesday reminds us that we Christians are not cowards when it comes to persecution. When our martyrs bled and died for the faith, it was because they did not want to renounce their Christian faith. Now we have truth tellers who are being threatened to keep their mouths shut and to stop them filing cases against crooked leaders.”
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Sales’ group said it was noteworthy to celebrate Red Wednesday during the jubilee year marking 500 years since the introduction of Christianity to the Philippines.
“No 500 years without 500 years of suffering. No 500 years of blessing without 500 years of martyrdom. No 500 years of graces without 500 years of sacrifice,” they said in their Facebook post.
Father Emman Afable from Sorsogon urged people to pray for persecuted Christians around the world who have kept their faith despite extreme difficulties.
“Here in the Philippines, we take for granted the practice of our Catholic faith because we can easily say Mass anywhere, anytime. But our brothers and sisters in other countries, especially where Catholicism is banned, are facing persecution. May the Lord grant them strength,” he said.
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