This year, Red Wednesday falls on 25 November. To mark this year’s event, Archbishop Eamon Martin will lead a special service in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, on Red Wednesday at 7:30pm, entitled “Set your Captives Free”.
Red is the symbolic Christian colour of martyrdom and on Red Wednesday the international charity Aid to the Church in Need Ireland (ACN) highlights the ongoing persecution of Christians worldwide. To promote awareness and solidarity with persecuted Christians, each year ACN invite churches to light up their exteriors in red, and for people to wear red clothing as a reminder of the many Christians who have shed their blood for their faith.
Speaking ahead of this special service, Archbishop Eamon emphasised the importance of the right to freedom of worship and religion, a right that is denied to many people around the world. The Primate of All Ireland said, “So many people in our world today do not have freedom to worship and practice their faith without fear and intimidation – many live under constant threat on account of their faith. This year we will focus in particular on Christians throughout the world who are imprisoned for their beliefs – the theme is ‘Set your captives free’.
“Perhaps the Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us of how important it is to be able to gather freely for public worship. Here in Ireland and in other countries we miss deeply being temporarily restricted from gathering as Church to praise God and to be present with those who are isolated, suffering or bereaved. At a time of distress like the current pandemic it is vitally important to us to be able to show solidarity with one another and to be together in praise of God. Perhaps at times we have taken this right for granted. The temporary closure of our churches in Ireland has given us a sense of what it must feel like for Christians to be forbidden ever to gather for worship.”
Drawing attention to the recent attacks in France, Archbishop Eamon said, “Tragically, the persecution and murder of Christians because of their faith is not something that is confined to the distant past. I think of the recent killings in France, three of whom were brutally murdered in the Notre-Dame Basilica in Nice, just before the first Mass of the day.
“On this year’s Red Wednesday I invite you to pray for the gift of courage, the grace of witness and loyalty to Christ. I also invite you to pray for Christians all over the world who continue to be challenged, attacked, displaced or even murdered for their faith. Think especially this year of the many Christians throughout the world who are arbitrarily and unjustly detained for their faith as prisoners of conscience, sometimes subjected to inhumane conditions and even forced to choose between their faith and their freedom” the Archbishop said.