Several Ukrainian Bishops welcome Pope Francis’ decision to consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on 25 March.
Both Latin-rite and Byzantine-rite Catholic Bishops in Ukraine have expressed their gratitude to Pope Francis for his desire to consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
As Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine grinds on leaving many dead, the Holy See Press Office announced on Tuesday evening that the Pope will perform the Act of Consecration on 25 March.
The Consecration will take place during a Penitential Celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica presided over by Pope Francis. The same Act of Consecration will be carried out on the same day by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Papal Almoner, at the Marian Shrine in Fatima, Portugal.
Pope’s fatherly concern
Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, welcomed the news “in the midst of the tragedy of the bloody war in Ukraine”.
“This is a spiritual act long awaited by the people of Ukraine. Since the beginning of Russian aggression in 2014, Ukrainian Catholics have been urgently requesting this Act to prevent the worsening of the war and the dangers coming from Russia.”
He added that he has frequently conveyed this request to Pope Francis’ “fatherly concern.”
Entrusting sufferings and hopes to Our Lady
The Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halyč thanked the Pope for deciding to consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In an apparition in Fatima on 13 July 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary asked for Russia to be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, adding in the apparition that if the request were not granted, Russia would spread “its errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecution of the Church.”
Major Archbishop Shevchuk noted that Our Lady’s words have been fulfilled, when she said that “the good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be destroyed.”
“Let us entrust to the Immaculate Heart of Mary all our sufferings and hopes for peace in our martyred country.”
Conversion to Christ
The Archbishop of Lviv, Mieczysław Mokrzycki, joined in thanking the Pope for this gesture.
He told Vatican News that Ukraine’s Latin-rite Catholic Bishops had written to Pope Francis to urge him to consecrate Russia to Our Lady of Fatima.
“In 1917, Our Lady of Fatima said that, in order to stop the war and the persecution of the Church, we must pray and consecrate Russia to her Heart and also take Communion on the first five Saturdays of the month.”
Archbishop Mokrzycki repeated the Virgin Mary’s promise that “Russia would be converted and we would have peace” if these requests were granted.
In response, the Bishops of Ukraine are urging the country’s faithful to prepare for the Act of Consecration with a prayer novena beginning on 17 March.
“We hope and believe that this Act will bring us peace and that the war will end soon,” concluded Archbishop Mokrzycki.
Ancient tradition of Consecration
The Consecration to the Mother of God is an ancient tradition, according to Major Archbishop Shevchuk.
He noted that the people of Rus’-Ukraine were consecrated to the protection of Our Lady in 1037 by Prince Yaroslav the Wise.
Within Ukraine, this Act of Consecration was renewed in 1995 by Cardinal Myroslav Ivan Liubachivsky and in 2016 by Major Archbishop Shevchuk.
Pope Pius XII, on 31 October 1942, consecrated the whole world, and on 7 July 1952 he consecrated the peoples of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the Apostolic Letter Sacro vergente anno:
On 21 November 1964, Pope St Paul VI renewed the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart in the presence of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council.
Pope St. John Paul II also composed a prayer for what he called an ‘Act of Entrustment’ to be celebrated in the Basilica of St Mary Major on 7 June 1981, the Solemnity of Pentecost.