Catholics around the world have been requesting Pope Francis to consecrate Russia to Our Lady since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The request for consecration is a plea for the pope to comply with Our Lady of Fatima’s request in 1917 to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. The pope announced he was going to consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25 in St. Peter’s Square. Prior to that consecration, a Ukrainian Archbishop is asking for a worldwide novena to Our Lady.
Ukrainian Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzychik of Lviv, Ukraine told the National Catholic Register, regarding the consecration of Russia and Ukraine to Our Lady, “we are very happy by the fact that the Holy Father responded positively to the request of the Bishops of the Latin Catholic Church, all its priests, and all its people.” He continued by urging the worldwide novena, “for this ceremony we want to prepare our people with a novena that will start on March 17”.
In a statement released March 15, the Holy See press office said “during the Celebration of Penance at which he (Pope Francis) will preside at 17.00 in Saint Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The same act, on the same day, will be carried out in Fatima by His Eminence Cardinal Krajewski, Apostolic Almoner, as envoy of the Holy Father.”
The announcement, not surprisingly, came with a variety of reactions ranging from celebration to criticism. According to Vatican News, “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’”. Major Archbishop Shevchuk said, “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.”
The Blessed Virgin Mary, in her apparition in Fatima on July 13, 1917, requested that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart. With her request, she gave a warning if it was not heeded and a promise if it was consecrated. She warned that if Russia was not consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, it would “spread its errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecution of the Church.” However, she promised if Russia was consecrated to her Immaculate Heart then it would stop the war and stop the persecution of the Church because Russia would be converted.
The announcement to consecrate Russia and Ukraine to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart came, also, with criticism from Catholics across the world. The criticism, primarily, focused on the fact that Russia and Ukraine were both being consecrated, and not just Russia. Ukraine was part of Russia at the time of Our Lady’s apparition in Fatima. Additionally, criticism also came from the fact that the Holy Father did not request all the bishops worldwide to participate. There is also a deep controversy regarding if Pope John Paul II’s consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was valid. The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith released “The Message of Fatima” on June 26, 2000, which stated, “Sister Lucia personally confirmed that this solemn and universal act of consecration corresponded to what Our Lady.” Multiple scholars, including Father Michael Gaitley, MIC and Fatima Fr. Andrew Apostoli, have agreed the consecration was valid and in lines with the wishes of the Blessed Virgin.
The consecration of Russia and Ukraine by Pope Francis on March 25 will be another consecration of the countries to the Blessed Virgin. The decision to do the consecration appears to have come as a result of the two papal envoys sent to Ukraine last week, which included Cardinal Konrad Krajewski. Experts have called what is happening in Ukraine a "miracle" and many Ukrainians have seen angels in the sky over Kyiv, Ukraine. Now, the world will join together in praying to Our Lady for an end to the war.
Catholics can participate in the consecration and join in urging an end to the invasion of Ukraine, by participating in the nine-day novena to Our Lady, beginning March 17.