Philippine parishes join battle against persecutors

Churches and schools sign up for this month's 'Red Wednesday' campaign against religious oppression
Philippine parishes join battle against persecutors

The facade of Manila Cathedral is bathed in red light to highlight the plight of persecuted Christians during the 'Red Wednesday' observance in 2018. (Photo: Angie de Silva)

More than 2,000 parishes across the Philippines will be joining this year's annual observance of "Red Wednesday" this month to show solidarity in the campaign against religious persecution.

Red Wednesday is a campaign initiated by the Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a global Catholic group under the pope that supports persecuted Christian communities.

A study on religious freedom estimated that about 300 million Christians around the world live in an environment of violent persecution and discrimination and are prevented from practicing their faith.

The Religious Freedom Report 2018 released by ACN early this year noted that persecution includes unexpected resettlement of minority Christian communities, sexual abuse of women by extremist groups, and more violent attacks such as bombings, mutilation and murder.

In the Philippines, extremists aligned with Islamic State destroyed homes and churches when they attacked and occupied the southern city of Marawi in 2016.

Early this year, a Catholic cathedral in the southern Philippine province of Sulu was bombed while a Mass was celebrated, resulting in the death of at least 20 people and the wounding of 80 others.

The Red Wednesday campaign, which is being sponsored by ACN, is an initiative to bring attention to the "martyrdom" of Christians as they battle religious persecution in many parts of the world.

In a statement, ACN said 2,065 parishes across the country have committed to participating on Nov. 28 and will illuminate the facade of their churches in red.

Catholic schools and universities have also expressed their intent to participate through forums and exhibits on religious freedom and persecution.

Christians from other denominations and ecumenical groups have also been invited, in light of the observance of the Year of Interreligious Dialogue, Ecumenism and Indigenous Peoples next year.

ACN said in its statement that through the Red Wednesday observance, people will realize that Christians are not only "more persecuted than any other faith group but ever-increasing numbers are experiencing the very worst forms of persecution." 

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