Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral was one of many landmarks floodlit red last night to raise awareness of the plight of those persecuted for their religious beliefs. Source: Melbourne Catholic.
Red Wednesday is a global initiative of the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need.
In Melbourne, a special prayer vigil was held and attended by clergy and representatives from Eastern Rite Catholic Churches, migrant chaplains and community members from across the archdiocese.
Msgr Joselito Cerna Asis, episcopal vicar for migrants and refugees, presided over the vigil, which was livestreamed to the Archdiocesan YouTube channel. Msgr Thair Sheikh, parish priest of Our Lady, Guardian of Plants Chaldean Catholic Church, provided the homily and described his own experience of religious persecution.
“My childhood was different from most childhood stories,” Msgr Sheikh said, describing growing up around the time of the Iraq-Iran war, and the regular sounds of bombs on the streets.
“Religious persecution is a crime against humanity. I have been chased by ISIS and nearly killed because I believe in Jesus. Each individual has the right to practice his or her faith. Stand up for our persecuted brothers and sisters.”
Following the vigil, attendees gathered in the cathedral’s forecourt to watch the façade and spires light up in red.
The 2021 Religious Freedom in the World Report revealed that two-thirds of the world’s population live in countries where there are serious violations to religious freedom. It is also clear that the persecution of Christians is worse today than at any time in history.
A crime against humanity: Red Wednesday 2021 (Melbourne Catholic)