# Red Wednesday

Westminster Cathedral (Photo: Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk) courtesy Catholic Herald

You know me well enough to know you won’t find an article here on Friday about which of the sales are the best – my advice is if possible sleep of the food from Thursday. 🙂 But while I often denigrate virtue signaling, signals remain important. Today is a signal, churches in the United Kingdom, including Winchester Cathedral and a dozen other cathedrals, Walsingham and about 80 other churches, and the House of Parliament will be floodlit this evening in Red, as a reminder of Christian persecution.

Many churches in the US will follow suit, although I don’t have numbers here.

In Iraq, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, says that Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church will also be lit in red.

In the Philippines, according to GMA News Online,

The Philippines is joining for the first time Red Wednesday, a worldwide religious activity geared towards raising awareness on the “ever-increasing” trend of Christian persecution in the world, set for November 22, in scores of cathedrals, dioceses and Catholic universities in the country.

On Wednesday, the façades of 82 participating churches, ecclesiastical territories, and universities will be bathed in red light, “the color of martyrdom,” to bring attention to the suffering of Christians being persecuted in many parts of the world, said Jonathan Luciano, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Philippines.

The international event, which is mainly marked by a Mass and the symbolic lighting, was first held last year, but Luciano said he hopes it will be an annual event for the church in the Philippines.

Luciano, quoting Pope Francis, said “there are more martyrs now than at the beginning of the Church,” referring to the large numbers of Christians who are in varying situations made to suffer for their faith.

Reading from a report, meanwhile, Mark von Riedemann of ACN’s parent office in the United Kingdom, outlined some of the scenarios of persecution Christians face.

In Iraq, the Christian population has dwindled from 1.5 million in 2003 to 250,000 to 300,000, prompting the European Union to call the situation a “genocide of Christians,” he said.

ACN’s report found 75 percent of religious persecution occurs against Christians through three main categories: state-sponsored persecution, fundamentalist nationalism, and extremism.

According to the report, religious freedom in Sudan, for example, is seen to be “spiraling downwards” because of government-issued Islamist threats, such as the tearing down of churches, the fining of women for dressing “immodestly,” and the mass exodus of Christians after the state removed citizenship rights of people with origins outside of the country.

For an illustration of extremist-fueled violence, one need not look further than the Philippines’ own experience in Marawi City.

And such examples of persecution are not only a threat to the Christian faith itself, but to the “plurality of society” in general, said von Reidemann.

“The survival of Christianity is a test case for the survival of plurality as a whole,” he said.

Red Wednesday will not end persecution, its organizers conceded. After all, Christians have been facing persecution for thousands of years, said Luciano.

He’s right of course, and that is why I, and many others, are often critical of these symbolic demonstrations. Too often they substitute for actually doing something, and that is a danger here. But it is also true, that if people are not aware of how extreme persecution has gotten, and the media isn’t telling much of anyone, then it is worth doing, simply to raise awareness. But it needs to be followed up with serious proposals, and even more important: action.

Symbols without follow-up are futile, but symbols are important.


Our Lady, Women’s Rights, and Persecution

Black Coptic Cross with Coptic Colors

Black Coptic Cross with Coptic Colors (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is an old Irish proverb to the effect of: The first duty of the strong is to protect the weak. Do we believe that or don’t we?

As we move into Advent, quite a few of us have talked of Our Lady and the culture at the time. I mentioned it here, Jess mentioned it here, and others have as well. One of the points that we have made is that Mary was the first woman in history, to stand up and say, yes Lord, I will. She did this when she was in her early teens, by the lights of her society, she was property, and because she was betrothed at the time, she belonged completely to neither her father nor her fiancé. Think about that, She, born without sin, was property, to be disposed of like a cow.

Amongst other things, the role of women in Western society, is one of the things that Christianity is responsible for. Don’t believe that, look at Moslem society, it has the same roots as ours, but has never developed. Women’s rights are one of the fruits of western civilization. And western civilization was caused and carried forward by the Christian Church, especially the church after Constantine. In another article of Jess’es one of her commenters, Tom McEwen says this:

The British Professor Patrick Haggard argues that your individual brain does not possess free will, nor awareness and consciousness, that there is no ghost in the machine. The complex nature of the brain makes these illusions possible. This has profound implications: philosophically, morally, and most worryingly legally. If I am not aware and just the product of firing synapses then I or my (?) brain kills (ceases to function) another brain is there a moral law broken if that brain is neither aware nor conscious, and the intent was not there because there is no free will. This limits the human to being a physical meat machine which is a uniquely complex set of falling dominoes, without external moral laws of good and evil beyond the physical realm. So according to Professor Haggard, God is an illusion as is an enlightened Buddha.

In my Lutheran Church we teach that there are two kingdoms, that of the right, which is of God; and that of the left, which is of Satan, personally I have no trouble deciding where Professor Haggard fits. Do you?

In my next link, I’m going to take you to an article at Maggie’s Notebook that collates some, repeat some, of the reports of Christian persecution around the world in October.

These reports of the persecution of Christians by Muslims around the world during the month of October include (but are not limited to) the following accounts, listed by form of persecution, and by country, in alphabetical order—not according to severity. Read it and then come back.
Church Attacks

Canada: As happens regularly in Egypt (see below), a Molotov cocktail was hurled through the window of a newly opened Coptic church near Toronto. Unlike in Egypt, however, firefighters came quickly and little damage was done: “Police have no suspects or motive in the incident.”

Egypt: A Muslim mob, consisting mostly of Salafis, surrounded St. George Church in the Beni Suef Governorate. Armed with batons, they assaulted Christians as they exited the church after Sunday mass; five were hospitalized with broken limbs. The Salafi grievance is that Christians from neighboring villages, who have no churches to serve them, are traveling and attending St. George. The priest could not leave the church for hours after the mass, even though he contacted the police; they came only after a prominent Coptic lawyer complained to the Ministry of the Interior concerning the lack of response from police. “I want the whole world to know,” he said, “that a priest and his congregation are presently held captive in their church, afraid of the Salafi Muslims surrounding the church.” Separately, a
group of Muslims, led by Mostafa Kamel, a prosecutor at the Alexandria Criminal Court, broke into the Church of St. Mary in Rashid near Alexandria and proceeded to destroy its altar, on claims that he bought the 9th century church; in fact it had earlier been sold to the Copts by the Greeks, due to the Greeks’ dwindling numbers in Egypt. Two priests, Fr. Maximos and Fr. Luke, rushed to the police station to try to bring the police to help. Kamel and his two sons also came to the police station, where they openly threatened to kill the two priests and their lawyer. “We stayed at the police station for over six hours with the police, “Fr. Maximos said, “begging prosecutor Kamel and his two sons not to demolish the church.” Fr. Luke said that the prosecutor had so far lost all the cases he brought against the church, “So when this route failed, he tried taking the matter into his own hands.”

Continue reading Muslim Persecution of Christians: October, 2012; Maggie’s Notebook.

Is this the world you want to live in? When you talk of returning to the early church, before Constantine, this is what you’re advocating for. From the way the news looks, you are going to get your wish, by the way. Personally, while I serve God as he directs, I think the culture that we have built over the last 2000 years is worth saving.

And to finish this off via the Rev. Karl Hess writing in Sermon for Populus Zion. “We are not of those who shrink back.” comes this quote:

The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with His death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ.

When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p. 44

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