Westminster Cathedral is to be floodlit in red this November to highlight the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
The event is being arranged by Aid to the Church in Need, which hopes other churches will follow suit.
Lord Alton of Liverpool wrote at Catholic Truth Society online: “If every parish in the country did the same it might at last wake up our political classes to the scale of the suffering.”
Lord Alton went on to explain how in one recent parliamentary meeting he heard how a Christian pastor in a village of Aleppo was told to convert or die and was forced to watch as his 12-year-old son was tortured: the boy’s fingers cut from his hand. He concluded: “Neither the father nor son renounced their faith, and both were executed.”
Despite resolutions being passed in the US, Europe and Australia, he said, “the British Government still fails to name these events for the genocide that they are – or to lay a resolution before the [UN] Security Council.”
In April this year, MPs voted unanimously in favour of tabling a motion at the UN calling for action against the genocide of Christians in the Middle East, but the Government is yet to take further action.
In his article Lord Alton urged readers to take action to raise awareness about the scale of persecution. He wrote: “It’s high time we stood with those who are suffering or dying for their beliefs”. He gave the example of Christians such as “the Iranian, Saeed Abedini, who was imprisoned for 10 years for ‘undermining national security’ by hosting Christian gatherings in his home.”
Figures show slight rise in number of British Catholics
New figures show a slight rise in the number of people who identify as Catholic in Britain.
According to figures from the British Social Attitudes Data for 2015, compiled by NatCen, a social research institute, the number of British adults who identify as Catholics has risen from 8 per cent to 9 per cent, causing the overall number of Christians to rise from 43 per cent to 44 per cent.
Ian Simpson, senior researcher at NatCen, told The Tablet: “It appears that the steady decline of religion in Britain has come to a halt, at least for now.”
However, Dr Stephen Bullivant, director of the Benedict XVI Centre at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, said the increase was not particularly noteworthy.
He said: “If you look at the Catholic percentage over time – it’s held steady at 9 per cent pretty much every year since 1994, bar three or four – I don’t believe the move from 8 per cent to 9 per cent is noteworthy. That’s well within the likely margin of error, and might well simply be a move from say 8.4 per cent (rounded down to 8 per cent) to 8.5 per cent (rounded up to 9 per cent).”
Bloody Sunday hero mourned
More than 25,000 people visited the body of Bishop Edward Daly at St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry ahead of his funeral last week.
At the Requiem Mass a message of condolence was read out from the Pope.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said: “Many hearts are hurting in Derry and around Ireland this week.” Bishop Daly became famous when he helped the wounded on Bloody Sunday.