The global “Red Wednesday” campaign is gaining more support in the Philippines, with more than 2,000 parishes joining this year’s observance, according to CBCP News.
The figure is 25 percent higher than last year’s 1,600 parishes that illuminated the facade of their churches in red to highlight the plight of persecuted Christians around the world.
Jonathan Luciano, national director of Aid to the Church in Need-Philippines, said several Catholic schools are joining the event on Nov. 27.
“Filipinos are becoming more aware of the issue and an indication to the increasing participation of parishes and schools,” he said.
First organized by the papal charity organization in the United Kingdom in 2016, this will be the third time that the event will be held in the Philippines.
“We want to be in solidarity with other Christians who are not as fortunate as us,” Luciano said.
Red is the Christian color of martyrdom and studies have shown that Christians continue to be the “most persecuted” faith group in the world, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.
ACN Philippines’ main activity will be held at the Manila Cathedral with a Mass to be officiated by Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, Vice President of the Philippine bishops’ conference.
After the liturgical service, a program of lights and ecumenical prayers will be held outside the cathedral.
Luciano said that leaders from other Christian faiths are also attending the event in light of the upcoming Year of Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue, and Indigenous Peoples.
“This year is quite special because for the first time we will be involving our brothers and sisters who belong to different Christian denominations,” he added.
There about 300 million persecuted Christians around the world Christians, according to ACN’s Religious Freedom Report 2018.
The report said that these Christians “live in an environment where they are violently persecuted, discriminated and prevented to practice the faith”.
Luciano said the Philippines is “no stranger” to these forms of persecution, citing attacks committed against Christians in the country’s south.
In 2017, extremists aligned with the Islamic State destroyed houses and churches in Marawi City, thereby displacing hundreds of thousands of its residents.
Two years later, twin explosions rocked the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu that claimed 22 lives and left scores injured.