Cathedral Lit Red In Solidarity With Persecuted Christians

Brentwood Cathedral will be lit red this November.Graham Hillman/Brentwood Diocese

This November Brentwood Cathedral will be floodlit red, to highlight the ongoing persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

Brentwood will stand alongside Westminster Cathedral and Westminster Abbey which have previously announced that they too will be floodlit in red, in a display organised by the Catholic Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Speaking to the Catholic Herald, the Dean of Brentwood Cathedral, Fr Martin Boland, said: "At present, Christians suffer greater hostility across the world than any other religious group. A recent report suggests that 200 million Christians, or 10 per cent of Christians worldwide, are socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their beliefs. This is deeply disturbing and the floodlighting of the Cathedral in red is to remind people of this.

"If the right to express religious beliefs freely is taken from people, then their humanity and dignity will be as well."

Boland urged government action, saying: "It is time for governments and international bodies to highlight the human rights abuses faced by Christians in the Middle East and to respond to them. If they don't, then Christianity will be wiped out in this region in a systematic and violent way.

"In November, nobody passing Brentwood Cathedral at night will be able to turn a blind eye to it and nobody, believer or non-believer, Christian or non-Christian, should turn a blind eye to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East."

This floodlighting follows a tradition set out by previous public landmarks: on 29 April Rome's historic Trevi fountain was also dyed red to honour Christian martyrs around the world. This display was also organised by ACN, which hoped it would mark "the start of a long lasting, concrete reaction everywhere so that the persecuted people of the 21st century can as soon as possible return to fully enjoying their natural right to religious freedom".

A 2013 report by ACN, entitled 'Persecuted and Forgotten' presented testimonies from persecuted Christians and investigated 30 countries where Christianity is under threat, concluding that in some areas the faith is at risk of being completely wiped out.

There is especially severe persecution of Christians in Iraq and Syria where ISIS thrives and subjects believers to forced conversions, violence, enslaving, and displacement. Christians in Nigeria are also being subjected to constant attacks from the Boko Haram terrorist group.

Alongside the floodlighting, ACN has invited people to wear red on November 23. It said: "This profound act of solidarity will be joined by other faith groups as a tribute to all who, in recent times, have suffered injustice and risk their lives for their faith. Make a stand against religious persecution and for peace and tolerance."