Westminster Cathedral is to be floodlit in red in November this year to highlight the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
In an article for the Catholic Truth Society online, Lord Alton of Liverpool wrote that, in November, Aid to the Church in Need is arranging for Westminster Cathedral “to be floodlit in red to commemorate the persecuted. 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 wrote: “In more than 100 countries Christians are persecuted…In Parliament I hosted a meeting of the charity, Aid to the Church In Need (ACN). We heard of how a Christian pastor in a village of Aleppo was told to convert or die. He was forced to watch as his 12-year-old son was tortured: the boy’s fingers cut from his hand. Neither the father or son renounced their faith, and both were executed.
“Despite Resolutions being passed in the House of Commons, the American Congress, the European Parliament and the Australian House of Representatives, the British Government still fails to name these events for the genocide that they are – or to lay a Resolution before the Security Council.”
He urged readers to take action in order 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 – with the Christians of the Middle East; with the Iranian, Saeed Abedini, who was imprisoned for 10 years for ‘undermining national security’ by hosting Christian gatherings in his home; with Chinese Catholics like the late Bishop Cosmas Shi Enxiang, who died last year at 94 years of age, having spent half his life in prison; with the Chinese Christians who, since the beginning of 2016, have seen 49 of their churches defaced or destroyed, crosses removed and a pastor’s wife crushed to death in the rubble as she pleaded with the authorities to desist; with the Christians targeted by groups like ISIS, the Taliban, Al Shabab, and Boko Haram.”
In a 2013 report by ACN, entitled ‘Persecuted and Forgotten’ the charity investigated 30 countries where Christianity is under threat and concluded that in some areas it risked being wiped out altogether.
In 20 of the 30 countries assessed, the situation for the faithful has worsened since 2011. In others where the problems were already extreme, there has been little or no change.