Aid to the Church in Need (ACN ) Italy is holding a spectacular campaign on November 20, 2018, to draw attention to the plight of persecuted Christians. In Venice, the Rialto Bridge, sections of the Grand Canal and other important buildings were illuminated in red.
The idea of illuminating iconic buildings in red was initiated by ACN some years ago as a way of creating a striking and visible sign to protest against religious discrimination. Since then, the idea of a “Red Wednesday“ has become established in many places. Campaigns of this type will be held in the following cities among others (though not always on a Wednesday): Paris (November 22), Barcelona (November 23), London (November), Sydney (November 28) and Washington (November 28).
In Barcelona, the iconic “Sagrada Familia“ church will be illuminated in red, as will the „Sacré Coeur“ Basilica in Montmartre, Paris. A special dimension has the action in the Philippines: over 1300 churches and 30 schools will follow the call for Religious Freedom” and will be illuminated in red.
Pope Francis hopes that the initiative Venice in red will “awaken the due attention of all to the serious problem of discrimination suffered by Christians in many parts of the world. ”
This is what the Holy Father says in a message sent to the Patriarch of Venice, Monsignor Francesco Moraglia, signed by the Secretary of State Card. Pietro Parolin, on the occasion of the Venice initiative in red, reminiscent of the millions of Christians persecuted today and in particular Asia Bibi, whose innocence was recognized by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on October 31.
The Holy Father expressed “his affectionate greeting” to the young people who will participate in the diocesan pilgrimage, at 6:15 p.m., guided by the Patriarch of Venice, who will precede the illumination of the Basilica of Our Lady of Health, the section in front of the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge and other symbolic places of the city.
At the meeting, there will be a special mention to Asia Bibi, and will also have the testimony of Bishop Botros Fahim Awad Hanna, Coptic Bishop of Mynia, Egypt. Tomorrow, November 21, 2018, a solemn Mass will be celebrated in the Basilica of Longhena, presided over by Bishop Moraglia.
November 22, 2018, this year in Rome, ACN will publish its latest report on “Religious Freedom in the World“. The presentation of the report will be accompanied by a series of publicity campaigns, prayer meetings and conferences around the world, scheduled to take place between November 22 and December 4. Once again this year a number of iconic public buildings will be illuminated in red in order to draw attention to the situation of people suffering religious persecution.
“As an organization committed to helping persecuted Christians, ACN has a particular duty to uphold the basic human right of religious freedom,” explained Dr. Thomas Heine-Geldern, the executive president of the foundation. “Sadly, there are more and more infringements of this basic human right, which affect all religions. We are therefore inviting people throughout the world to stand up together with ACN in defense of religious freedom and make a visible gesture of solidarity.”
This is now the fourteenth ACN report on Religious Freedom in the World. It examines the situation in over 190 different countries and documents not only the current legal situation but also the abuses against the right to religious freedom over the time period 2016 – 2018. The report also details developments and changes in the situation in a number of the most critically threatened countries.
In recent times the case of Asia Bibi has garnered particular international attention. This Catholic woman, initially condemned to death on allegations of blasphemy, was finally acquitted after more than seven years in prison – leading to violent protests by extreme radical Islamist groups in a number of Pakistani cities. Human rights defenders in a number of European countries are currently campaigning for this mother of 5 to be allowed to leave the country and be granted asylum elsewhere.