19 March 2022, The Tablet

Consecration of Russia and Ukraine is 'message for peace'

“It is important for us to have the protection of Our Lady, since the powerful nations of the world cannot close the skies.”

Consecration of Russia and Ukraine is 'message for peace'

People pray for peace in Ukraine in front of the replica of the original statue of Our Lady of Fatima in the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin in Lviv.
CNS photo/Pavlo Palamarchuk, Reuters

The consecration of Russia and Ukraine to Our Lady, which will take place on the 25 March, is a call for peace, said Portuguese bishop José Ornelas, of the diocese that oversees the shrine of Fátima. 

Pope Francis decided to have the consecration simultaneously in Rome and in Fátima, and has sent Polish Cardinal Conrad Krejewski to the Marian shrine to preside in his name. 

Fátima was where Mary appeared to three shepherd children in 1917. Among the messages she shared with them was the need to pray for the conversion of Russia, to prevent the country from spreading its errors around the world. 

The fact that Francis has decided to repeat the consecration, linking it directly to Fátima, has been interpreted as a sign that these errors did not end with the fall of the Soviet Union, but persist under Vladimir Putin. Bishop José Ornelas, however, prefers to see the gesture in simpler terms. “This is a message of peace. It is not against anybody, it is a message in favour of human reconciliation, to create an atmosphere of peace, rather than conflict.”

Peace, he insisted, is at the centre of the Fátima message, and the shrine’s activity. “Other conflicts have also been the object of special attention in Fátima. The issue of violence, war and peace, are constantly present not only in the original message, but in the way it has been developed”.

The news of the consecration has also been welcomed by the large Ukrainian community in Portugal. Greek Catholic priest Ivan Hudz says that Marian devotion is one of the things that Portuguese and Ukrainians have in common.

“It is important for us to have the protection of Our Lady, since the powerful nations of the world cannot close the skies and keep our schools, hospitals, maternities and theatres, where our children are hiding, from being bombed, we turn to Mary for protection,” he explained. 

“For those of us who are familiar with the Fátima message, this is an important sign that we should ask for the conversion of Russia, so that the war ends. We can only have peace when the fascist Putin stops destroying Ukraine.”

However, he said it is not only Russia that needs to change its ways. “Sister Lúcia’s memories of the apparitions make it clear that the whole world needed to change its ways, otherwise it would suffer through the actions of Russia. It is not only Russia that needs to convert, while we continue to live politically correct lives. Three months into 2022, how many abortions have been carried out in Europe? How many elderly abandoned? How many immoral laws approved by EU Governments? This consecration cannot be only about the war.” 

The Pope’s decision, he said, was welcomed by Ukrainians of different confessions, including Orthodox, and all Ukrainians hope that it will herald a new time of peace, “but not just any peace, real peace, peace that comes from God, through Mary”.

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