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Red Wednesday raises awareness for persecuted Christians

The fourth annual Red Wednesday brings awareness for persecuted Christians, but it cannot be forgotten that this includes Black Catholics.

While largely going unnoticed in the United States and among Black Catholics, today's fourth annual Red Wednesday is promoting awareness of and solidarity with persecuted Christians throughout the globe.

While the event typically evokes (and features) images of Christian communities outside of the Western world, the event's theme indubitably includes American Christianity's longest-standing persecuted minority on at least a theoretical level.

Held on the third Wednesday of November each year, the event's most notable displays are the illumination of church (and other buildings') facades with red lighting, signifying the "blood of the martyrs".

These locales have included the Colosseum of Rome (a preeminent location of the persecution of Christians in the past), the Palace of Westminster, and Westminster Abbey.

There does not appear to be much awareness of the event in the United States. Its Catholic bishops, who are meeting this week for their first-ever virtual General Assembly, did not mention the event during their public sessions on Monday and Tuesday, and have not endorsed the event.

There also appear to be virtually no Red Wednesday events at the diocesan and parish level in the States.

The Catholic bishops of neighboring Canada, however, have endorsed the event, alongside various other Christian and secular organizations over the past 3 years, including the UK government, various Protestant Christian groups worldwide, and the Catholic bishops' conferences of the Philippines, Ireland, and Australia.

The event was created in 2017 by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), an international Catholic charity (and Pontifical Foundation) based in Germany and founded after WWII.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, an ecumenical (though Anglican-led) religious freedom organization based in the UK, joined the initiative in 2018.

The UK-based Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir, an ecumenical group based out of an Anglican parish and a Catholic parish (both in London), led worship at a red-lit Westminster Cathedral on the inaugural Red Wednesday and again the next year in 2017, singing selections from African-American hymnwriters Richard Smallwood and Israel Houghton.