For almost ten years now, Red Wednesday has been a must-attend international event for a growing number of Christians around the world. "Not only do our national offices raise awareness among Catholics, as well as the benefactors and friends of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), they also enable more and more people to better understand the extent of persecution against Christians and to become aware of the importance of religious freedom," explains Marie-Claude Lalonde, National Director of ACN's Canadian office.
"It is a fundamental human right that goes beyond religion itself, as stated in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
Various ways of participating
The archdioceses of Toronto and Montreal have already announced the celebration of Masses in their respective cathedral basilicas on Wednesday, November 15, at 5 pm. The illumination in red of St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto is now a tradition, and the Mass will be presided over by the new archbishop of Toronto, Msgr. Francis Leo.
Parishes, communities and individuals wishing to find out more, organize and register an activity or download materials to organize a time of prayer can visit the event's home page: https://acn-canada.org/rw.
"Catholic school boards and schools are also invited to prepare activities with their students. There are many ways to demonstrate your solidarity, whether it's setting up a kiosk displaying the phenomenon of religious persecution, organizing a lunchtime prayer or simply wearing a red garment," explains Lalonde.
A right in decline
"Along with the release of our new Religious Freedom Report in June, it is vital that we continue to raise awareness about the fact that 75% of religious persecution worldwide directly affects Christians," says Mario Bard, Information Officer for ACN's Canadian office.
"Indeed, this fundamental and legitimate right is in decline, not only in authoritarian and dictatorial states but also in our Western societies, which find it difficult to engage in dialogue when it comes to the issue of religious freedom - with emphasis on freedom of conscience–and fundamental rights for all. It seems that polarization in many debates is also touching on these rights of beliefs and conscience. This is not good for the life of a sane democracy, because these fundamental rights are not respected."
As Regina Lynch, Executive President of Aid to the Church International states in the introduction of their new Religious Freedom Report launched in June, there are many ways to ensure awareness continues to be spread.
One way is to pray for the victims of discrimination and violence, share information, or spread the word about this report in your networks. Another is to 'speak up for victims of persecution which is completely in line with Red Wednesday.
To read and download the Executive Summary 2023, visit https://acn-canada.org/religious-freedom-report-2023-executive-summary/.
Thank you for showing your solidarity on November 15!
All are welcome to attend Mass on Red Wednesday on November 15 at 5pm at St. Michael's Cathedral Basilica in downtown Toronto.