Catholic Leaders and Theologians Laud Pope’s Upcoming Consecration of Russia and Ukraine
The Holy Father has invited ‘the bishops of the whole world and their priests’ to join him in the prayer effort for peace.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ decision to consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the Solemnity of the Annunciation comes at a crucial time for the Church and the world and should be carried out explicitly in union with all the world’s bishops, Church leaders and theologians have said.
The Vatican announced March 15 that the Holy Father will make the act of consecration at 5pm on March 25 during a celebration of penance in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The Vatican also confirmed on Friday that Pope Francis had invited all “the bishops of the whole world and their priests” to join him in the act of consecration and in praying for peace.
Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, will also make the act of consecration at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima in Portugal at the same time.
News of the consecration follows a public appeal on Ash Wednesday for the Pope to consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart. Ukraine’s Latin Rite Catholic bishops made the appeal after Russia’s invasion of the country on Feb. 24 and subsequent hostilities that have raised the specter of a possible third world war. They said they had received many requests for the consecration.
The consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was first requested by Our Lady of Fátima on July 13, 1917, in an apparition to the three shepherd children Servant of God Lúcia dos Santos and Sts. Francisco and Jacinta Marto.
In her memoir published in 1941, Sister Lúcia wrote that the Blessed Virgin Mary told them that such an act of consecration by a pope and communion of reparation by the faithful on First Saturdays would prevent the spread of the “errors of Russia” and bring peace.
“If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church,” Our Lady told the children. “The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
In a 1989 handwritten letter, Sister Lúcia wrote that Pope John Paul II’s consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1984 had been “accepted in Heaven,” although debate continues whether it was a perfect act of consecration, properly fulfilling Our Lady’s request to explicitly have Russia consecrated to the Immaculate Heart. The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said the consecration had been completed to Sister Lúcia’s satisfaction.
Cardinal Raymond Burke believes the current state of the world and the Church warrants a new consecration — an appeal he first made in 2017, when he agreed with Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, an eminent scholar of Fátima, who believed the act, if properly executed, would help “put an end to the time of apostasy and the great shortcomings of the Church’s pastors.”
Cardinal Burke told the Register March 16 that at the “heart of the message of Fátima, popularly called the Secret of Fátima,” was the need to address “apostasy, the abandonment of Christ in his holy Church.” He said this is especially evident today “through the violation of the most fundamental tenets of the natural law, the law which God has written upon every human heart and which Christ gives us the grace to live in love.”
As examples, the prefect emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura cited attacks on life through such grave sins of abortion, sterilization and euthanasia; attacks on the family through divorce, gender ideology and other scourges; and attacks on religion, such as restrictions on religious liberty.
“The loss of faith and a corresponding relationship with Our Lord is the source of all of these evils, which are more and more verified in our time, even most frighteningly in the Church,” Cardinal Burke said. “The Virgin Mary, especially through her apparitions at Fátima, calls human hearts to the only source of truth and love in the heart of her Divine Son.”
Italian theologian Father Nicola Bux said the upcoming consecration was important, “as the unity of Christians is a permanent urgency,” especially given that Russians and Ukrainians, whose evangelization by Sts. Cyril and Methodius was completed with the baptism of St. Vladimir, are at war.
Father Bux, a former consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said although he believes Mary’s request at Fátima has been fulfilled, he agreed with Benedict XVI, who saw the mystery of Fátima as generally “far from complete” because of “its continuing relevance in the various phases of world history.”
Father Paul Haffner, a mariologist and professor of systematic theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, said he was “delighted the consecration is taking place” and also noted that it is “different to the previous one because times are different, but the basic message behind it is the same: prayer and conversion.”
In Union With All Bishops
Ahead of Friday’s Vatican announcement that Pope Francis had invited the world’s bishops to join him in “praying for peace and in consecrating Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” Church observers had been emphasizing the importance that all the Church’s bishops take part in the consecration in union with the Pope. Earlier this week, Latin American and Filipino bishops had already said they would take part. So have the bishops of England and Wales. See if your diocese will be participating, too.
On March 17, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, sent an urgent letter to U.S. bishops saying that the Pope intended to “invite each bishop, or equivalent in law, together with his priests, to join in this act of consecration, if possible, at an hour corresponding to 5pm Rome time.”
Archbishop Pierre also wrote that “in the coming days,” the Holy Father would send with an invitation to the world’s bishops “the text of the Prayer of Consecration in various languages.”
Pope Pius XII consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart in 1952, but according to Catholic historian and writer Edmund Mazza, although the act was “laudable,” it did not command “all the world’s bishops to join him in this consecration.”
In 1946, Sister Lúcia made it clear in an interview with American historian William Thomas Walsh that “what Our Lady wants is that the Pope and all the bishops in the world shall consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart on one special day.”
“If this is done,” she continued, “she will convert Russia, and there will be peace. If it is not done, the errors of Russia will spread through every country in the world.” Asked if this means “every country, without exception,” including the United States, “will be overcome by communism,” she replied, “Yes.”
Benedict XVI’s Participation
As well as having all the bishops taking part, Mazza believes it is vital that Benedict XVI also be publicly involved “because Benedict is visibly still papal: He dresses in white; he gives apostolic blessings; he is still called His Holiness; he still lives in the Vatican, and he calls himself Pope Emeritus, not bishop emeritus.”
The Register asked the Holy See Press Office and Benedict’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, if the Pope Emeritus would be visibly taking part in the consecration, but neither has so far responded.