29 APRIL: TREVI FOUNTAIN IN ROME WILL TURN RED AS AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED (ACN) COMMEMORATES THE CHRISTIAN MARTYRS
Königstein/Rome, 26.04.2016. On 29 April at 8 pm the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome will turn red – for the first time in its history. (Fontana di Trevisitingerà di rosso). The international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has organised this event as a way of visibly commemorating the thousands of Christian martyrs of modern times who today, in even greater numbers than in the early centuries of the Church, have shed their blood for Christ, murdered in odium fidei.
By means of this unique initiative, the Italian national office of ACN hopes to draw attention to the dramatic issue of anti-Christian persecution. A similar initiative was staged in October 2015, when the Brazilian national office of ACN illuminated in red the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. “The systematic violation of the right to religious freedom, above all that of Christians, ought to be a central issue in the public debate”, say the president of ACN Italy, Alfredo Mantovano, and its national director, Alessandro Monteduro, “in order to avoid the danger of indifference and the consequent prolonging of this intolerable suffering.”
Ever since its origins in 1947, the charity ACN – now a pontifical foundation of the Catholic Church – has stood up for those persecuted for the sake of their religious faith. This commitment has found powerful expression since 1999 in the publication of the report by ACN on Religious Freedom Worldwide, the next edition of which will be published on 15 November this year. However, as Mantovano and Monteduro observe, “The content of the report will be of little value if it does not become our common patrimony, if it does not shake our consciences and produce a widespread public reaction in support of the countless victims of persecution who cannot speak for themselves”.
A number of different organisations and agencies in Italy and elsewhere have expressed their support for the initiative. For example, the community of Sant’Egidio, the movement Comunione e Liberazione, the Focolare movement and the organisation RinnovamentonelloSpirito Santo, along with media agencies such as Avvenire, Catholic News Agency/Aciprensa and Romereports. The event will also be broadcast live by the television channel of the Italian bishops’ conference, TV2000.
The event will begin with an introduction by the President of ACN Italy, Alfredo Mantovano, and an address by the international president of ACN, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza.
This will be followed by four invited guests giving personal accounts of Christians killed on account of their faith. A sister from the Missionaries of Charity, the sisters of Mother Teresa, will speak of the four nuns of this congregation murdered in Yemen on 4 March this year. The Pakistani Minister for the Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, will be remembered by his friend Professor ShahidMobeen, the founder of the Association of Pakistani Christians in Italy. Then Maddalena Santoro will speak about her brother, Father Andrea Santoro, who was murdered in Turkey in 2006. And finally, a student from Kenya, Luka Loteng, will pay homage to the Christian students murdered in Garrisa in April 2015.
After these four interventions, the Trevi Fountain will turn red and will form the backdrop to the testimony given by Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo, Syria.
The evening will conclude with the recital of the prayer of Pius XII for the persecuted Church. Following this, and throughout the night, images of anti-Christian persecution will be projected onto a Trevi Fountain stained with the blood of the Christian martyrs.