ACN Red Week, Christ the Redemptor, Brazil ACN Red Week, Christ the Redemptor, Brazil 

ACN highlights plight of women and girls during #Red Week

As Aid to the Church in Need’s international campaign to raise awareness of the persecution of Christians and the need for religious freedom kicks off this Wednesday, ACN UK’s Head of Press and Information, John Pontifex, says, “the persecution of Christians is today worse than at any time in history.”

By Lydia O’Kane

Aid to the Church in Need’s annual #Red Week gets underway this Wednesday with an event at St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Austria.

The Papal Foundation’s campaign, which aims to highlight the rise of religious persecution and the need for religious freedom, runs from 17-24 November.

Over the course of the week, buildings in Slovakia, as well as the cathedrals of Montreal and Toronto in Canada, will turn red as part of the campaign.

In Australia, schools in six dioceses will wear red and participate in prayer events and fundraising for Aid to the Church in Need’s projects.

The plight of women and girls

This year’s #RedWeek initiative is shining the spotlight on women and girls from Christian and other faith minorities who suffer abduction, forced marriage, forced conversion, and sexual violence.

Speaking to Vatican Radio about this year’s campaign, John Pontifex, Head of Press and Information at ACN UK, said that this focus follows on from reports that they have been receiving “of girls as young as twelve who have suffered this plight and who are clearly targeted as Christians.”

He went on to say that on #RedWednesday, 24 November, ACN UK will present a report, entitled "Hear Her Cries," to the British Parliament at Westminster. The report chronicles the stories of kidnapping, forced conversion, and sexual victimization of Christian women and girls in countries as diverse as Mozambique, Pakistan, Syria, Iran, and Iraq.

Listen to the interview

Christian persecution on the rise

Just a few weeks ago, the US-based Pew Research Centre released its latest figures on religious persecution around the world. Referring to these statistics, which cover the year 2019, Mr Pontifex noted that the Centre calculated that Christians suffer harassment in as many as 153 countries around the world.

He added that these figures are corroborated by research that other organisations including Aid to the Church in Need have undertaken, and underlined that “the persecution of Christians is today worse than at any time in history.” Mr. Pontifex recalled that according to ACN’s  "Religious Freedom in the World" report published earlier this year, numbers are on the increase, particularly in Africa, with the most serious cases being found from Mali to Mozambique in Sub Saharan Africa.

Red Week events

Over the course of these seven days, countries around the world will be holding their own events to mark #Red Week. In the UK, there will be a gathering in Westminster Cathedral, London, on “Red Wednesday” 24 November, followed by Holy Mass. Later in the evening, an event will hear witness testimonies from girls who faced forced marriage, abduction, and sexual victimization. On the same day, the Foreign and Commonwealth government building and Westminster Cathedral will be lit up in red.

17 November 2021, 14:30