Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral was floodlit red, the colour of martyrs, on Wednesday night, to commemorate Red Wednesday.
Iconic buildings around Sydney and the rest of the world were bathed in red light to draw attention to the plight of those around the globe persecuted for their religious beliefs.
Red Wednesday, an initiative of the Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, is marked around the world with landmarks such as the Rialto Bridge in Venice, the Palace of Westminster in London and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro bathed in red to raise awareness against abuses of religious freedoms.
2018 is the first year Australia has been involved with Red Wednesday, and in Sydney, St James’ Anglican Church, The Great Synagogue, St John’s College at Sydney University and Notre Dame University were illuminated in red.
At St Mary’s Cathedral, following a Red Wednesday Mass, The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP hosted an interfaith gathering in the Crypt.
Representatives from 15 different faiths including the Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Christian Orthodox and Anglican communities were present at the gathering.
The Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, and the Chief Executive Officer of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Vic Alhadeff were special guests of Archbishop Fisher.
The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP said during the gathering that he hopes Red Wednesday will be observed nationwide in future years.
“We are called to speak out whenever anyone is oppressed because of their faith. To stand aside and do nothing is to side with the oppressor.
While we are more fortunate in Australia than in many other nations, we need to remain vigilant amid current moves to restrict religious freedom in our Catholic schools.
We hope Red Wednesday can soon become a nationwide observance in all states and territories, where people of all faiths can stand up for religious faith and freedom of conscience.”
At the interfaith ceremony in the Cathedral Crypt, guests heard moving testimonies from Mrs Liquaa, a Bah’ai woman from Yemen and Mr Nader Bulos, a Syrian Orthodox man from Syria who spoke about their personal experiences of persecution in their homelands.
Red Wednesday coincides with the release of ACN’s bi-annual Religious Freedom in the World Report 2018, which assesses the situation of minority faith groups in 196 countries.
The report assists journalists, politicians and academics seeking to assist all those oppressed for their faith. It was released on 23 November at: www.religious-freedom-report.org
To find out more about Red Wednesday: visit: www.redwednesday.org