In his Red Wednesday reflection, Archbishop Eamon Martin took the opportunity to highlight the “unjust detention” of Christians around the world, meditating first on the example of St Oliver Plunkett:
“The thousands of pilgrims who visit the national shrine of Saint Oliver Plunkett, at Saint Peter’s Church in Drogheda, cannot fail to notice a heavy wood and metal door that is displayed near the sacred relics of the saint. It is in fact the actual door of Newgate Prison in London behind which the condemned archbishop spent his last sixteen days before his gruesome execution at Tyburn on 1 July 1681,” Archbishop Eamon explained.
Drawing from this, the archbishop of Armagh proceeded to highlight the fact that many Christians around the world face the same plight as the famed Irish saint.
“I recall the story of Saint Oliver’s imprisonment because the theme of Red Wednesday this year is ‘Set Your Captives Free’ – a plea for Christians around the world who are in prison for their faith in 2020 – 340 years since the death of our saintly Archbishop.”
The plight of Christians around the world was detailed, with the archbishop saying, “The threat of unjust imprisonment of this kind is one of the most prevalent and frightening forms of intimidation and persecution of Christians throughout the world.”
“It is remarkable how those who, like Saint Oliver Plunkett, are called upon to suffer injustice and insult, injury and even death for the faith, have left behind them a courageous and inspiring testimony of witness. That is why Red Wednesday gives way to a ‘Week of Witness’. The word ‘martyr’ actually means ‘witness’ and we are all called to be witnesses to our faith. We wear red ribbons, red clothing and light up our Cathedral in red tonight, not just to draw attention to the persecution of Christians, but to show that we are personally prepared to witness publicly to our beliefs, – even if at times that brings us ridicule, criticism, downright opposition or something more violent and aggressive.”