Filipino Catholics honor Christian martyrs

Anti-persecution group points to a lack of awareness on persecution
Filipino Catholics honor Christian martyrs

Father Teresito "Chito" Soganub, who was abducted by Islamic State-inspired fighters in Marawi last year, leads the faithful in paying tribute to Christian martyrs in Manila on Nov. 28. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

Facades of Catholic churches and schools across the Philippines were bathed with red light on the evening of Nov. 28 to highlight the plight of persecuted Christians around the world.

It was part of the so-called 'Red Wednesday’ campaign initiated by Aid to the Church in Need — a global Catholic group under the auspices of the pope that supports Christian communities suffering persecution.

In the capital, Manila, Father Teresito 'Chito' Soganub, who was previously abducted by Islamic militants, led the faithful in paying tribute to Christian martyrs.

In his homily, the priest said he was passionately supportive of the event because of his experience as a hostage.

Victims of persecution such as himself cried from their hearts and souls as well as their eyes.

"You cannot do anything except pray," he added.

He said that in the midst of a difficult situation, with the bullets flying around, it had been difficult to see the presence of God.

The priest added that he even tried to bargain with God during his almost 116-day captivity from May 23 to Sept. 26, 2017.

"I prayed hoping the Lord will grant my prayer," the priest said.

Father Soganub felt that he had failed when he was not freed, but later realized he was wrong to have reacted in that way.

"I could not see the presence of God because fear swallowed me, because imminent death and the trauma covered my eyes not to see the wonders of God and his protection," Father Soganub said.

Data provided by Aid to the Church in Need noted that more than 90,000 Christians were murdered worldwide in 2016, equivalent to one every six minutes.

The group noted that many people in the Philippines remain unaware of how difficult it is to practice the Christian faith in some Muslim-majority areas of the southern island of Mindanao.

The 'Red Wednesday' event sought to improve awareness among Filipino Christians of such issues.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines invited all churches and diocesan shrines across the country to illuminate their façades in red, the color of martyrdom in the Christian faith.

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