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Buildings, monuments, and hundreds of churches across the world are being lit up in red throughout November in honor of persecuted Christians suffering for their faith.

Organized by the Christian aid group Aid to the Church in Need International (ACN), the week of demonstrations Nov. 19–26 is known as “Red Week” and has been taking place in honor of persecuted Christians every November since 2015. This year several special events being held in conjunction with Red Week will emphasize the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, India, and Africa.

Maria Lozano, a spokesperson for ACN, told CNA that “the challenges for Christians in many parts of the world are increasing.” According to ACN’s 2023 Religious Freedom Report, released in June, over half of the world’s population lives in countries in which severe violations against religious freedom occurred in the last year. ACN’s report said that “intense persecution became more acute and concentrated, and impunity grew.” “There is a huge erosion of the universal right to religious freedom, and we think this cannot go unnoticed,” Lozano said.

Global witness

The Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, several castles in Slovakia, the Austrian Parliament building, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, Australia, are just a few of the many significant and historic landmarks being lit red in honor of the modern Christian martyrs and persecuted faithful across the globe.

Many buildings at the Vatican and several Italian government buildings and landmarks, including the Colosseum, will also be lit red in Rome, according to a press release by ACN Italy. The first Red Week demonstration took place in 2015 when ACN Brazil had Rio de Janeiro’s massive Christ the Redeemer statue lit red in honor of persecuted Christians in Iraq.

According to an X post by ACN, the color red “evokes the color of bloodshed by millions of [Christian martyrs].” 

This year, according to ACN, over 10,000 people are expected to participate in Red Week activities scheduled in more than a dozen different countries. Millions more will see the buildings and monuments lit red.

“In a world increasingly marked by conflict, the persecution of Christians and the erosion of the universal right to religious freedom can go unnoticed,” ACN said in a Nov. 6 statement. “The goal of ACN’s initiative, which includes lighting in red monuments and buildings around the world, is to make sure they are not forgotten.”

In the United Kingdom, where many churches and cathedrals will be lit in red, several events and demonstrations were scheduled for “Red Wednesday” on Nov. 22 to bring attention to the suffering in Africa and Nigeria especially.

Religious liberty in Nigeria has been continually worsening in recent years, with massacres, killings, kidnappings, and intimidation a daily occurrence, Nigerian Bishop Wilfred Anagbe told CNA in a June interview. This January, Father Isaac Achi, a priest serving in the Catholic Diocese of Minna, Nigeria, was burned to death by bandits inside his parish church. This past Good Friday, April 7, 43 people were killed and many more were injured in an attack at an elementary school in Ngban.

“If you see the video, you would just weep,” Anagbe said. “They came and they slaughtered all of them.” According to International Christian Concern, 90% of all Christians killed for their faith in 2022 were Nigerian. ACN UK organized a special Mass on Wednesday at St. George’s Cathedral in Southwark in honor of the suffering Church in Africa. The Mass will be celebrated by the apostolic nuncio to the U.K., Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendía.

By Peter Pinedo

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