Pope Francis to consecrate Russia, Ukraine to Mary on March 25

A sign in St. Peter's Square calls for the consecration of Russia and Ukraine to Mary, before the start of Pope Francis' Angelus at the Vatican on March 13. The Vatican said Pope Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary March 25. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during a penitential prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica March 25, the Vatican said.

On the same day, the Vatican said, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, will carry out a similar consecration at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Kyiv has invited Pope Francis to visit the Ukrainian capital as a sign of solidarity and witness for peace. (See below.)

Pope Francis places flowers near a statue of Mary as he prays in the Little Chapel of the Apparitions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal on May 12, 2017. (CNS/Paul Haring)

According to the Vatican’s translation of the messages of Fatima, when Mary appeared to the three shepherd children in Fatima in 1917, she told them, “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.”

Warning of “war, famine, and persecutions of the church and of the Holy Father,” Mary told the children, “to prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart.”

Some groups have continued to argue that Mary’s wish was never fulfilled or that it was never done properly because the pope consecrated the world and not “Russia.” The Vatican, however, has insisted St. John Paul II did so in 1984 when he led the world’s bishops in the consecration of Russia and the world. The late Sister Lucia dos Santos, the last surviving visionary and the one who received the instructions for the consecration, had said that it was properly performed.

At his Sunday recitations of the Angelus since Russia invaded Ukraine Feb. 24, people have been showing up in St. Peter’s Square with signs asking the pope for the consecration of Russia or of Russia and Ukraine to Mary.

The Fatima message promised: “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. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated.”

But, the message continued: “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.”

KYIV MAYOR INVITES POPE TO VISIT AS SIGN OF SOLIDARITY, WITNESS FOR PEACE

Meanwhile, Mayor Vitali Klitschko of Kyiv, Ukraine’s besieged capital, has invited Pope Francis and other religious leaders to come to the city and witness for peace.

“The Holy Father has received the letter from the mayor of the Ukrainian capital and is close to the suffering of the city, its people, those who had to flee from it and those who are called to administer it,” said Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office.

“He prays to the Lord that they will be protected from violence,” Bruni said March 15, adding that the pope repeats his call for an end to “the unacceptable armed aggression before it reduces cities to cemeteries.”

In a letter to the pope dated March 8, Klitschko said, “We believe that the world religious leaders’ presence in person in Kyiv is key for saving lives and paving the path to peace in our city, country and beyond.”

The mayor offered “help on whatever might be needed” to get the pope to Kyiv, and said, “if a journey to Kyiv is not possible, we kindly ask for a joint video conference to be recorded or broadcast live,” including with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“We appeal to you, as a spiritual leader, to show your compassion, to stand with the Ukrainian people by jointly spreading the call for peace,” the letter said.

Klitschko wrote to the pope three days after appealing in a video on Twitter for religious leaders to come to the beleaguered city.

He mentioned by name Pope Francis; Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar in Egypt, an authority for Sunni Muslims around the world; the Dalai Lama; Rabbi David Baruch Lau, the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel; and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, who has supported the war.

“What is happening in the heart of Europe touches the heart of all the inhabitants of our planet who love justice and values of goodness regardless of their region or religion,” Klitschko said, which was why he was calling “the world’s spiritual leaders to take a stand.”

The mayor asked the leaders to “come to Kyiv and show their solidarity with the Ukrainian people, to show their compassion and to join together in a spirit of harmony that my country and the whole world needs.”

“Let us make Kyiv the capital of humanity, spirituality and peace,” he said in the video.

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