Heeding the call of Pope Francis for the Church to identify 21st-century martyrs, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) will order a census of those who sacrificed their lives for the witness of Christ.
CBCP Secretary General Msgr. Bernardino Pantin said on Wednesday that the list is not only limited to Catholics “but to all Christian confessions.”
“Here in our country, we also have our share of the faithful who have died for the faith,” Pantin said.
“The CBCP will be asking all the dioceses, religious congregations and the different commissions to help in gathering these data of the Filipinos or foreign missionaries who have been murdered for their faith so that they could be submitted to Rome in time for the 2025 Jubilee,” he said.
The priest was presiding a Mass for this year’s observance of “Red Wednesday” at the Manila Cathedral.
Red Wednesday is an initiative launched in 2015 by Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity dedicated to support the suffering and persecuted Christians around the world.
In the Philippines, a number of cathedrals and parish churches were lit in red and Masses were offered to highlight and pray for the more than 250 million Christians “who courageously bear the cross for their faith in Jesus Christ”.
“They endure hardships, discrimination, violence, and even death because they refuse to renounce their faith,” Pantin said.
“Let us recommit ourselves to living out our faith boldly, following the example of those who persevere amid persecution,” he added.
“Let us be steadfast in prayer, support and advocacy for our persecuted brothers and sisters, knowing that through our solidarity, we contribute to the spread of God’s kingdom on earth,” he also said.
Pope Francis in July set up a special commission tasked to study the modern-day killings of Christians and identify those he calls “new martyrs” of the 21st century.
The pope had given the task to the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints’ the “Commission for New Martyrs-Witnesses of the Faith”, which was created in view of the Jubilee 2025.
Among the commission’s objectives is to draw up a catalogue of all Christians who have shed their blood to confess Christ and bear witness to the Gospel.
Image credits: Eric Paul Guanlao/Manila Cathedral