Red Wednesday for modern martyrs
BELIEVE it or not, the global persecution of Christians today is at historic peak. But this does not hit the headlines. And there is not much talk about this despite the ubiquity and speed of social media. There had been viraling news stories here and there but it seems they don’t sink in among Filipino–probably because, being predominantly Catholic, the scenario seems unimaginable.
A study made by a Christian advocacy group, Open Doors, show that the global persecution of Christians has risen for the past four consecutive years, making it the most persecuted faith group in the world. The Italian-based Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) also reported that over 90,000 Christians throughout the world were murdered in 2016. These studies affirm the declaration of Pope Francis that there are more Christians suffering today than there were in the early years of Christianity.
A most recent study of the Pontifical Charity organization, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), titled “Persecuted and Forgotten,” reveals that the impact of anti-Christian persecution in some countries is “only now beginning to be felt in all its horror.”
The editor of this ACN report which was released only on October 12, 2017 was quoted, “In terms of the numbers of people involved, the gravity of the crimes committed and their impact, it is clear that the persecution of Christians is worse today than at any time in history. Not only are Christians more persecuted than any other faith group, but ever-increasing numbers are experiencing the very worst forms of persecution.”
The Middle East is the major focus of the ACN report that further states in its executive summary that “Governments in the West and the U.N. failed to offer Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria the emergency help they needed as genocide got underway…If Christian organizations and other institutions had not filled the gap, the Christian presence could already have disappeared in Iraq and in other parts of the Middle East.”
In the same report the following countries were ranked “extreme” in the scale of anti-Christian persecution: China, Eritrea, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Syria. While Egypt, India and Iran were rated “high to extreme.”
These findings have triggered the ACN to come up with the Red Wednesday campaign which was simultaneously observed in many dioceses in the Philippines on November 22, 2017, showcasing the Manila Cathedral where the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, and Bishop Edwin de la Peña of Marawi Prelature led the Eucharistic celebration. The campaign is intended to raise awareness among Filipinos about the severity of Christian persecution while honoring all Christians who have suffered and died for Christ in the present times.
But as Tertullian wrote in the year 197 about Christian persecution, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.” So will it be today.