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    Romania marked its first National Day of Awareness of Violence against Christians on August 16.

    On that day, the country honored Romanian martyrs and persecuted Christians all over the world. The event aimed to raise awareness on the ongoing violence against believers, reports Aleteia, an online Catholic news and information website.

    “Every year more Christians worldwide become victims of violence. —Daniel Gheorghe, Member of the Romanian Parliament

    In June, the Romanian government passed a law initiating the annual commemoration. Daniel Gheorghe, a member of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, prompted the initiative which was then approved by the Parliament.

    Gheorghe said, “Every year more Christians worldwide become victims of violence.” He explained that he proposed the law to let the younger Romanians know about the big role Christianity has played in the country’s history and to let people become aware of the escalating persecution Christians endure in other parts of the world.

    August 16 coincidentally, is also the feast of the Brâncoveanu Martyrs that was observed since the 1990s. Constantin Brancoveanus was an 18th century Romanian prince who was beheaded by Ottoman Turks for refusing to renounce his faith. He was executed together with his four sons and one of his advisers.

    In a statement issued on August 13, the Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Daniel and the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate said the Brâncoveanu Martyrs “illustrated martyrdom as the ultimate proof of love for Christ in the history of the Romanian Christianity.” They lauded the government’s initiative to honor the suffering of Christians.

    “That is why the proclamation of a national commemoration day for their martyrdom should be for us an opportunity to become more aware of today’s violence against Christians,” the patriarchate said. It revealed that anti-Christian violence “takes different forms of persecution today, from the Christophobia of the new ideologies to the filmed executions of those whose only guilt is that of being Christian.”

    The patriarchate welcomed this latest development, as it recognizes religious freedom as a basic human right.

    A study from Pew Research Center in 2018 found that Romania is the most religious country out of 34 European countries surveyed. Fifty-five percent of Romanian adults are considered “highly religious” in terms of “religious service attendance, prayer frequency, belief in God and self-described importance of religion in one’s life.”

    Open Doors UK revealed that persecution against Christians continues amid the COVID-19 pandemic, reports The Christian Institute. The Christian charity said it had been “inundated” with reports of Christians being deprived of emergency aid if they don’t renounce their belief and re-convert back to their original faith.