The interior of Manila Cathedral is illuminated in red to mark Red Wednesday on Nov. 25. (Photo supplied)
Churches turned red on Nov. 25 to commemorate Red Wednesday, an annual event organized by papal charity group Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) for persecuted Christians.
ACN Philippines urged all clergymen and churchgoers to illuminate their parish church in red, a color associated with martyrdom.
“Wear red on Wednesday. Stand up for faith and freedom. Red is for love. Spread love not hate. Support the call by wearing red,” the group posted on social media.
The first Red Wednesday took place in the United Kingdom in 2016. Philippine Church authorities joined the campaign in 2017.
“Originally Red Wednesday was designed to honor Christian martyrs, but eventually it became a significant way of campaigning against persecutions of Christians around the world. They [persecuted Christians] are our modern-day martyrs,” ACN said on social media.
Catholic bishops in the Philippines have given full backing to the campaign and urged all churches back in January to turn on red lights as a mark of solidarity with ACN’s cause for persecuted Catholics around the world.
In 2019, the Philippines had the largest participation turnout when 2,100 churches were lit up in red across the entire archipelago.
The charity group’s president Archbishop Socrates Villegas said this year’s theme was “Red means love: One Church against Covid-19”.
“Undeniably, we live in a difficult time wherein hope seems so far away … faith may weaken … and love is hard to be found,” he told Radio Veritas.
The archbishop said this year’s theme was special, referring to the victims of recent typhoons and the coronavirus in the Philippines.
“The current health pandemic forced upon us a new face of suffering. Lockdowns have grievously affected poverty-stricken communities. Those infected by the virus now count in the millions. And it continues to claim lives with impunity,” he said.
Churchgoers attended Masses for the event.
“Let us continue to make our love and compassion felt to all the needy, medical health workers and all persecuted Christians around the world,” said Spencer Roncales from St. Ildephonsus Parish in Bulacan province on social media.
Roncales said Filipinos need to be reminded of their faith and courage as they continued to face present-day challenges.
“We needed faith, hope and love. We are suffering from so many ills, both physical and social. Thank you, Aid to the Church in Need, for being one with the suffering Christians around the world. Thank you for giving meaning to our suffering.”