On Ash Wednesday the Latin Rite Catholic bishops of Ukraine sent a petition to Pope Francis asking him to renew the act of consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Their request found a favourable response in the Vatican. The act of consecration will be conducted on Annunciation Day, Friday, March 25th, during the celebration of Penance that he will preside over at 5 p.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The Vatican press office said that the same act would be performed at the same time and in the same terms by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski in Fatima.
The coordination between the pope and the cardinal makes the reference to Our Lady’s request to the children of Fatima in 1917 explicit.
In her apparition on 13 July 1917, Our Lady had urged the three shepherd children, Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco, to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart; otherwise, Russia would spread her errors throughout the world, and many nations would have to suffer because of her, leading to wars and persecutions of the Church. Our Lady had expressly asked that the consecration be made with the participation of the bishops of the whole world. The Latin American Bishops’ Conference has already associated itself with the Pope’s initiative and will participate in the consecration on March 25th. Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of St. Mary in Astana in Kazakhstan, proposes that all Catholics recite a novena to ask that all the bishops of the world join in the consecration.
In the past, several acts of consecration had taken place, involving Russia alone or in association with other countries. In 1942, Pope Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In 1952, he consecrated more specifically the inhabitants of Russia in an apostolic letter, Sacro vergente anno.
In 1964, it was Pope Paul VI’s turn to consecrate Russia, in the presence of the Council Fathers. Finally, on 25 March 1984, Pope John Paul II pronounced a solemn act of consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary within the framework of the Great Jubilee of the Redemption and the Day of Families. Given the context of extreme tension in international relations, Russia was not explicitly mentioned in this act, but was contained in a specific allusion in the following words: “We offer and consecrate to you in a special way those men and nations who are particularly in need of this offering and this consecration.”
At the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis renewed the consecration of all humanity to the Heart of Mary with a sober prayer in St Peter’s Square before the statue of Our Lady of Fatima on Sunday, 13 October 2013, at the end of Mass. On 13 May 2017, Pope Francis—who canonised the little shepherds in Fatima on the occasion of the centenary of the apparitions in 2017—also had his pontificate consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima by the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, José da Cruz Policarpo.