As Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) prepares to issue its international report on the persecution of Christians (2017-19), its Canadian office is organizing a second observance of Red Wednesday to raise awareness and to educate the public about the issue and the importance of religious freedom. To be held Nov. 20, the event is an opportunity to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians worldwide.
As was done last year, a Mass will be celebrated at 7:30 pm at the Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral in Montréal, while an ecumenical prayer vigil will be held at St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto, also scheduled for 7:30 pm. Both events will be presided over by the archbishops of these two dioceses, Msgr. Christian Lépine and Cardinal Thomas Collins, respectively.
Marie-Claude Lalonde, National Director of ACN Canada, is delighted by the attention given to the event this year by the Chancellor of the Grand Séminaire de Montréal, Mr. Guy Guindon, Sulpician. "The historic building of the Grand Séminaire de Montréal will be lit up in red and the seminarians will hold a vigil on Thursday, November 21, at the historic chapel," she said before adding: "We are also waiting for news from the Diocese of Calgary. Last year, more than 50 activities were organized there.” The Red Wednesday tradition began in the United Kingdom a few years ago and has been taken up by several national ACN offices around the world, including France, Italy and the Philippines.
Those interested in recognizing this day can now visit the micropage created by the Canadian office at acn-canada.org/red-wednesday/. Whether preparing a time of prayer in a parish, a Mass, or by illuminating any emblematic building in their part of the country - church, diocesan centre, cathedral, basilica, etc. - they are invited to join us so that we can spread the word of this gesture of solidarity to all Canadians. At 1 (800)585-6333 or by email at email@example.com.
Iraq: 90% less than in 2003
Furthermore, ACN announces the release of its new report devoted exclusively to the persecution of Christians around the world. Among the major issues addressed in this report, including the situation in Nigeria and that in south and southeast Asia, that of the Christian communities in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, is simply alarming.
A map showing the countries overview in the new Report Persecuted and Forgotten 2017-19, availalble next week in PDF Format on the web site of Aid to the Church in Need Canada. (© ACN)
"They are more than ever in danger of disappearing," said Marie-Claude Lalonde. In 2003, there were 1.5 million Christians. "In little more than a generation, their numbers have tragically decreased by 90% to 150,000! Unfortunately, we believe that the international community has failed to take concrete action on the very strong concerns it expressed in 2016 when some governments recognized the genocide of Christians by the Islamic State group (Daesh/ISIS). According to our partners in the field, if these terrorists were to come back in force and reattack the Nineveh Plain, an ancestral site of Iraqi Christians, it would practically be the death of Christianity in Iraq, even though it is more than 1,900 years old! "Mrs. Lalonde said sadly.
The full findings of the report will be available in PDF format on the Canadian office's website the week of October 28th.
For more information on Red Wednesday and Aid to the Church in Need, visit the website: acn-canada.org/red-Wednesday.