Lithuania and Syria united in memory of persecuted Christians in the Middle East

Lithuania and Syria united in memory of persecuted Christians in the Middle East

Red lights to illuminate cathedrals in Lithuania and Syria for the modern martyrs following Conference “Calvary of Christians: Persecuted Christians testify” at the Lithuanian Parliament
On Monday 26 March at 20:00 (19:00 CET) the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) together with the Lithuanian government and Catholic Bishops’ Conference will light in red the Cathedral of Vilnius, the Basilica of the Resurrection in Kaunas and the historical Three Crosses statue overlooking Vilnius, in union with the Greek Melkite Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace and Syrian Orthodox Cathedral of Our Lady of the Belt in Homs, Syria.
“Lithuania has a painful experience and recent memory of repression and persecution; we want to give our support to the victims of fundamentalism with prayer and public action”, states Dr. Laima Andrikiené, Member of the European Parliament for Vilnius.
The initiative takes place within the framework of a conference at the Seimas’ Constitution (Lithuanian Parliament) titled “Calvary of Christians: Persecuted Christians testify”. Hosted by the Speaker Mr Viktoras Pranckietis, members of the Lithuanian and the European Parliaments will hear ACN witnesses including Fr. Ziad Hilal SJ of Homs who will speak about Syria and Fr. Andrzej Halemba, Head of ACN Middle East Projects about Iraq, during a day dedicated to raise awareness about persecuted Christians in the Middle East and consider ways to help these beleaguered communities.
Members of Parliament will explain the actions thus far of Lithuania and the European Union concerning the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, ambassadors from Sweden and Hungary will speak about their government efforts, and representatives of the Catholic and the Lutheran churches in Lithuania too will explain what they are currently doing to receive those refugees fleeing the conflicts.
Following the conference the Apostolic Nuncio to Lithuania H.E. Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana and H.E. Gintaras Grusas the Archbishop of Vilnius will celebrate Holy Mass for the persecuted Christians in the Cathedral of Vilnius after which both the Cathedrals of Vilnius and Kaunas as well as the historically significant monument called The Three Crosses will be lit red, in union with the Cathedrals in Homs, Syria, in memory of the modern martyrs as well as those who continue to suffer persecution.
“This is what the Holy Father has been asking us to do, to stand and pray for those who are ready to die for their faith”, says Fr Kestutis Smilgevicius, Secretary General of the Bishops’ Conference of Lithuania, who underscores that, “this conference at the beginning of Holy Week, as we prepare to meditate on the suffering of Christ for our salvation, it is the right moment to pray for our suffering brothers and sisters”.

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Founded in 1947 as a Catholic aid organization for war refugees and recognized as a papal foundation since 2011, ACN is dedicated to the service of Christians around the world, through information, prayer and action, wherever they are persecuted or oppressed or suffering material need. ACN supports every year an average of 5000 projects in close to 150 countries, thanks to private donations, as the foundation receives no public funding.