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 | By Cindy Wooden

Pope Consecrates Humanity, ‘Especially Russia and Ukraine,’ to Mary

As Pope Francis and bishops around the world consecrated themselves and all humanity to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, they included the phrase, “especially Russia and Ukraine.”

In the text of the pope’s prayer sent to chanceries around the globe so that bishops could join the pope March 25, a key passage for many observers reads: “Mother of God and our mother, to your Immaculate Heart we solemnly entrust and consecrate ourselves, the church and all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine.”

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and responding to a request particularly from Ukrainian bishops, Pope Francis had announced that he would make the act of consecration during a previously scheduled Lenten penance service in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, led the act of consecration at the same time at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal. When Mary appeared to three shepherd children at Fatima in 1917 with a message encouraging prayer and repentance, she also asked for the consecration of Russia to Mary’s immaculate heart.

While popes, especially St. John Paul II in 1984, made acts of consecration, they did not mention “Russia” out loud, which led some people to think that the Fatima request had not been fulfilled, even though the last surviving visionary, Sister Lucia dos Santos, said St. John Paul had done so.

Bishop Joe Vásquez, as well as bishops around the U.S., led a prayer service and Mass on March 25 at approximately the same time Pope Francis prayed in Rome. The papal text they used pleads with Mary to “accept this act that we carry out with confidence and love. Grant that war may end, and peace spread throughout the world.”

By saying “yes” to God’s plan – an event remembered on the March 25 feast of the Annunciation – Mary “opened the doors of history to the Prince of Peace,” the prayer says. “We trust that, through your heart, peace will dawn once more.”

“To you we consecrate the future of the whole human family, the needs and expectations of every people, the anxieties and hopes of the world,” the prayer says.

Written with the penance service and the Fatima call to repentance in mind, the pope began the prayer with a statement of trust in Mary’s maternal love for all believers.

“You never cease to guide us to Jesus, the prince of peace,” the prayer says. “Yet we have strayed from that path of peace.”

Humanity, it says, has forgotten the lessons of the 20th century with its “sacrifice of the millions who fell in two world wars.”

What is more, it says, “we have disregarded the commitments we made as a community of nations. We have betrayed peoples’ dreams of peace and the hopes of the young.”

“We grew sick with greed, we thought only of our own nations and their interests, we grew indifferent and caught up in our selfish needs and concerns,” the text says.

The abiding presence of Mary, the text says, is a reminder that God never abandons people and is always ready to forgive.

“In every age you make yourself known to us, calling us to conversion,” the pope wrote. “At this dark hour, help us and grant us your comfort. Say to us once more: ‘Am I not here, I who am your Mother?’“ as Our Lady of Guadalupe said to Juan Diego.