Persecution of Christians
Archbishop John Wilson, the Catholic Archbishop of Southwark, spoke after a special Mass in his Cathedral in south London to mark Red Wednesday on 22 November 2023.
Red Wednesday is the day when the Catholic community comes together globally to ‘Break the Silence’ on Christian persecution. When darkness falls, iconic buildings and monuments are lit red to champion the cause. This year St George’s Cathedral was bathed in red light.
Archbishop Wilson explains why it’s important we speak out about Christian persecution and why the rosary is the ideal prayer to pray when calling to mind the suffering of Christians around the world.
Dear friends, it’s Archbishop John here speaking to you from our cathedral, St George’s Cathedral in Southwark.
We’ve just celebrated the Mass for Red Wednesday, and our Cathedral has been lit red as a sign of the martyrdom of Christians.
Today, we focus especially on the persecution of Christians across the world. We need to call this out. We need to speak about this, because it’s a matter of justice that people are being unjustly persecuted for their faith.
We heard this evening the testimony of a marvellous woman, Margaret Attah from Nigeria, who was the victim of a terrorist attack on Christians in her church after Mass. She lost both her legs and the sight in one eye, and others were killed from her congregation.
This is a matter of justice to speak up for the truth, for an end to persecution. But also as Christians, we form one body in Christ and when one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers. This, as well as being about justice, is about solidarity with suffering Christians around the world.
Sometimes people ask: How can we pray and what can we pray in the face of Christian persecution in the world – when our brothers and sisters are being attacked for their faith, imprisoned, tortured, and even killed? I would suggest that the most powerful prayer that we can pray is the rosary. It is the prayer that we can do anywhere at any time. It takes us through the mysteries of the life of Christ, His birth, His life, His suffering and His glory. And when we unite ourselves to the mystery of Christ in our prayer, we do a powerful act of spiritual solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are suffering.
So in these coming weeks, after Red Wednesday, please pray the rosary. Even just a decade of a rosary. Even just the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be.
Please pray for Christian brothers and sisters who suffer for their faith.