THE COLOR red should signify love, not bloodshed, as the world still grapples with the fallout from the war between Israel and terrorist group Hamas, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said as he urged Catholics to participate in the global campaign for persecuted Christians on Red Wednesday on Nov. 29.

[S]ana, ang pula ay manatili na sa ilaw,” Villegas, president of the Philippine chapter of the Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), said in a message posted on Nov. 21. “Tumigil na ang pagdanak ng dugo, tumigil na ang terorismo, tumigil na ang karahasan at patayan, at ang pula ay maging sagisag na lamang ng pagmamahal natin sa isa’t isa.” 

The battle between Israelis and Hamas has caused deep divisions among religions and denominations. 

Some Evangelical Christians, for instance, view the casualties in Israel as paving the way for the “second coming of Christ,” as prophesied in the book of Revelations. 

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines, a group of non-Catholic denominations that includes the Aglipayan Church, has condemned Israel for launching a “lopsided” war in Gaza, lamenting that the conflict “exacerbates the already deplorable conditions of Palestinians, who have been living under a situation likened to ‘apartheid’ for years already.”

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has not issued a definitive statement in support of either side.

Pope Francis said in unscripted remarks on Wednesday, Nov. 22, that the war had descended into “terrorism,” urging Israel and Hamas to “not go ahead with passions, which, in the end, kill everyone.”

Villegas urged the faithful to wear red clothing and reminded Churches and religious institutions nationwide to light their edifices in red.

Magsindi po kayo ng kandila sa labas ng bahay, sa labas ng simbahan. Ilawan natin ang harap ng simbahan, ng paaralan, ng ating bahay alang-alang sa dugo ng mga Kristiyanong pinapatay at inuusig sa ating panahon,” he said.

In a circular dated Nov. 23, the Office of the Secretary General encouraged the Thomasian community to participate in the University-wide Mass on Nov. 29, presided by Vice Rector for Religious Affairs Fr. Pablo Tiong, O.P.

The UST Main Building, Arch of the Centuries, and Martyrs’ Monument will be lit red after the Mass as a reminder that “the grim reality of religious persecution lies the redemptive value of all suffering when borne in union with the Lord’s cross.”

The CBCP first declared Red Wednesday as an official Church activity in the Philippines in January 2020. 

Founded in 1947, ACN was established as a Catholic aid organization for war refugees. It was later recognized as a papal foundation in 2011.

ACN opened its Philippine office in 2016.

Data from the 2023 World Watch List by Open Door USA showed that more than 312 million Christians are persecuted worldwide, which was relatively lower than 2022’s 360 million.


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