REMEMBRANCE ABOUT PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS
WŁODZIMIERZ RĘDZIOCHAccording to tradition, confirmed with the recent discoveries, in Roman Coliseum the first Christians were killed. Therefore, it is not accidental that on Good Friday popes celebrate Via Crucis just here, in the place which became the symbol of martyrdom of Christ’s followers of all times. Because as pope Francis says, there are a lot of today’s coliseums, much more than in the ancient times, and persecutions are much more violent than two thousand years ago. Unfortunately, media rarely perceive this phenomenon. The Christians are killed or are persecuted by indifference and silence of the public opinion. Therefore, on 24 February this year, from the initiative of the Papal Association Help to Church in Need, a ceremony of illumination of the Coliseum in red was organized, in order to remind the world of the Christians who are killed and devote their blood for being faithful to Christ. The emotionally-moving ceremony began at the dusk, in the pouring of falling rain, on the square on the Eskwilin hill, just next to the coliseum. The organizers were: cardinal Mauro Piacenza – the international representative of the Papal Association Help to Church in Need and Alfredo Mantovano – the chairperson of his Italian section. Among invited guests there was the chairperson of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani, a Vatican State Secretary cardinal Pietro Parolin, the general secretary of the Italian Episcopate bishop Nunzio Galantino, but, first of all, witnesses of persecuting Christians: Ashiq Masih and Eisham Ashiq, husband and daughter of Asia Bibi, a Pakistan woman, who has been imprisoned for eight years for alleged blasphemy against Mahomet, which undergoes death penalty in her muslim country, and Rebecca bitrus, a 28-year-old Nigerian woman raped and imprisoned for 2 years by terrorists from Boko Haram. The gathered guests listened to terrifying memories of those contemporary martyrs for faith. During the Roman ceremonies, everybody got connected with the cathedral in Aleppo in Syrian and the church of St. Paul in Mosul in Iraq via radio, in order to listen to testimonies of those Christians as well. The culminating point of the evening was illumination of the ruins of the coliseum in red, in order to remind the world about the shed blood for faith by the Christians, also in our times. Christ’s followers are the most persecuted religious group today, and their martyrdom cannot be tolerated any more, as freedom of religion and practicing one’s faith is the basic human freedom.
Translated by Aneta Amrozik
Niedziela 9/2018 (4 III 2018)