Friday, March 25, 2022

(263) Russian Invasion of Ukraine Background & Knights of Columbus Help Refugees

Refugees fleeing the war on foot towards the border primarily with babies, the clothes on their backs, and what they can carry.  They flee by train or long lines of cars, some of which had to be abandoned on the side of the road after running out of gas.  Then going on foot is the only option.  

 On February 24 Russia invaded its sovereign neighbor with about 200,000 troops, engulfing much of the country of Ukraine……..really Goliath against David.  Over 4 million people fled as refugees to neighboring countries and more than 10 million were displaced within the country.  I feel close to Ukraine because we have relatives there and we visited them in 2017.  Thus I have studied, prayed, and donated to help the refugees.  So please permit me to share what I have learned.  I think that you'll find this article quite interesting.

    Historical Background.  The Communist Russian empire since 1917 collapsed in 1991 and most of its captive Soviet republics declared their independence including Ukraine.  Russia, still gigantic in surface area attempted democracy which was chaotic after centuries of autocratic rule.  The country morphed into a fascist kleptocracy under autocratic rule by a dictator, namely Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, who was elected president in the year 2000 and assumed dictatorial powers in about 2008. 

The system is quite fascist in that individuals own the means of production while the government controls under an authoritarian president or dictator. After the chaotic disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, industry was privatized and oligarchs gained ownership in often manipulated auctions for a song. Most became billionaires, but are indebted to Vladimir Putin and are under his protection and control. See https://theweek.com/politics/1012021/the-role-of-oligarchs-in-russia  - How did Russia's oligarchs become so powerful? 

Since the oligarchy is so rich and powerful, Russia may be classified as a kleptocracy where the Government is more concerned about preserving their immense wealth than pursuing the common good of the people.  The capitalistic oligarchs including Putin live high with multi-million dollar yachts.

  Russia is no longer Communist; there is freedom of religion with some free enterprise; and the gulag is gone, but the government methods are similar.  There is a parliament, but it rubber stamps Vladimir Putin.  The press and the media are strictly controlled and dissidents are even murdered without trial.  The system is  totalitarian.

 Gary Kasparov, the former world chess champion, opposes Putin at great personal risk.  He observed: “Evil doesn’t die; it grows back through the cracks of apathy.”  In other words the errors of Russia that Mary spoke of at Fatima continue under a different form.  A real conversion is necessary inside and outside of Russia including Europe and the United States. 

Putin’s InvasionHe perceived Ukraine as a threat because its free democracy is an example to his own people and desires to ally itself with the West and join NATO, the strictly defensive alliance in order to maintain its independence. At the same time Putin has grandiose visions of restoring the Russian empire as it was under the notorious Josef Stalin and the very authoritarian Czars of the 17th and 18th centuries such as Peter the Great and Catherine the Great.  See https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/10/putin-compares-himself-to-peter-the-great-in-quest-to-take-back-russian-lands and https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/apr/09/understanding-vladimir-putin-the-man-who-fooled-the-world.

      Since Ukraine was part of those old empires by conquest, ---although independent after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsPHKDuP-Hk    - The end of a superpower - The collapse of the Soviet Union)---, Putin believes that Russia has the right to retake Ukraine 30 years later. The Ukrainians are a distinct ethnic group with its own culture.  The Ukrainian language is also distinct, but related to Russian, both having Slavic roots as Polish and other national languages.

If only authoritarian rulers would be primarily concerned with serving the people and developing the country while engaging in international cooperation instead of gaining personal power and empire building, we would have a prosperous world at peace!

The people are told that it is not a war, but a “special operation” to protect supposedly oppressed Russian speakers and liberate Ukraine of Nazis even though their president, Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish.    

      Clearly, Ukraine's sovereignty and freedom are threatened by blatant aggression and a threat to freedom anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere.  If only authoritarian and militaristic countries would devote its resources to economic development instead of war or defense, their standard of living and prosperity would increase significantly.

      Will history repeat itself?  From 1793 to 1918  Poland did not exist as an independent nation.  By conquest Russia took the eastern part; Prussia (present day Germany) took the western part and Austria took the southern part.  Communist Russia and Nazi Germany made a deal that came to fruition in the Fall of 1939.  Germany took the western half and Russia took the eastern half of Poland as they had previously annexed for 125 years.  Britain and France came to the aid of Poland and  World War II was on.  Today Russia is trying to reconquer Ukraine which it had previously annexed for many years.  At the same time Russia has forged an alliance with three other aggressive authoritarian regimes, namely Iran, North Korea, and China which claims Taiwan.  Will all that lead to World War III.  Let us pray that never will happen.

  There is a history of Ukrainian bitterness towards Russia with a yearning for independence and self-determination as espoused by Woodrow Wilson after World War I.  That bitter experience has motivated Ukraine to fight so valiantly.  For a history of Ukraine go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Ukraine - History of Ukraine and https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Gwuu7TXPwI  - The Actual History of Ukrainian Independence (1917-1922) - How Ukraine Became Part of the USSR - The Soviet–Ukrainian War (1917-1922). 

Another excellent summary was done by CBS and the scholars it interviewed: https://    www.cbsnews.com/news/russian-history-of-subjugating-ukraine/?ftag=YHF4eb9d17  titled “The Long History of Russia's Efforts to Subjugate Ukraine” dating to the Russian Empire ruled by Peter the Great (1672-1725 & crowned in 1682) and then Catherine the Great (1729-1796 & crowned in 1762). The war today is at least Ukraine's second war for independence from Russia.  Subjugation included suppression of the Ukrainian language and culture.         

Independence Square in Kyiv dominated by the towering statue of St. Michael, the patron saint of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. The name, Independence Square, shows the national yearning of centuries for independence.

 In the early 1930s Stalin and the Soviet Union, under which Ukraine was subjugated, imposed a draconian collectivization of farms and religious persecution. The farming produce was confiscated and forced starvation killed 3.9 million people, referred to as the “Holodomor (1932-1933)”. See https://ondemand.ewtn.com/free/Home/Series/ondemand/video/en/to-believe, a fascinating movie produced in Ukraine with English subtitles that shows the struggle to preserve and pass down the faith during many years of intense persecution.  Thus the title, "To Believe".  The movie should give an appreciation of the tremendous thirst for independence of Russian domination. 

Bogged Down and Stalled.  Putin expected to overrun Ukraine in a few days and install a puppet president.  However, he and military experts were surprised at the extent of the Ukrainian resistance and heroism.  Ukraine is asking for material help, especially hand held Jaguar missiles against armor up to two miles away and hand held Stinger missiles against low flying aircraft up to six miles away.  Their soldiers are very flexible, adapt, and learn quickly.  

Having been trained by the U.S. Army including Special Forces, the Ukrainian Army is very competent as shown by their excellent tactics, smart logistics, and outmaneuvering their counterparts with a decentralized structure of well-trained non-commissioned and junior officers able to make quick decisions as the situation changes.  The Russian Army in contrast is more centralized and thus less nimble and much more dependent upon higher levels of command.  

Although now a stalemate after a month, the Russia military may eventually win despite poor training, low troop morale and purpose, ill-conceived tactics, faulty planning, unreliable logistics (fuel, food, ammunition, etc.), and insecure communications as well as poor command and control.  

Even if Russia wins because of its much greater number of troops and quantity of weapons, that will be followed by years of guerrilla warfare, a similar war the Soviet Union lost in Afghanistan in the 1980s after ten years of fighting.  See https://news.yahoo.com/another-russian-quagmire-putin-shadow-131702746 "Another Russian quagmire: Putin and the shadow of Afghanistan" and https://www.cbsnews.com/video/inside-the-mind-of-vladimir-putin/?ftag=YHF4eb9d17#x "Inside the Mind of Vladimir Putin".

If the sanctions on Russia,  such as  the ability to trade, are effective, peaceful means by a united world can be a very effective deterrent to future aggression of “big dog subjugating little dog”.  The memory of previous successfully applied sanctions would be salient. 

According to MSNBC, NATO estimates that up to 40,000 Russian soldiers have been killed, wounded, captured or MIA in Ukraine in the first month.  Some 10,000 Russian soldiers have been killed, including six generals. About 1500 Ukrainian soldiers have died.  

The indiscriminate shelling and bombing of the major cities have been incessant. Even civilian targets, including apartments, hospitals, schools, and refugee centers have not been spared.  At least 1000 civilians have been killed and almost double that injured.  Understandably, there has been an exodus of refugees, mostly women and children because men aged 16 to 60 must stay and fight.

Russia itself is a tragedy.  Blessed with abundant natural resources, particularly oil and gas, it had an excellent balance of trade.  It has good technology and capable engineers, technicians,  businessmen, doctors, researchers, and other human resources.  Used for the common good of its people, Russia could be one of the most economically developed countries in the world.      

Instead the Russian Federation has squandered these resources for armaments and war.  Furthermore, an oligarchical class unjustly got control of formerly state owned industry being privatized at little cost by political means and corruption, becoming obscenely wealthy with super yachts and high living.  Putin protects them in return for their support.  Democracy was tried, but the people needed more time to develop it.  Putin took advantage of the chaotic situation and seized power, eventually becoming an autocrat.  Instead of peaceful cooperation with the rest of the world for the common good of all, there is conflict, suspicion, and war.

By March 22, 10 million people have fled their homes.  Of this number 3.6 million people have fled to their neighbors…..Romania (555,000), Moldova (371,000 the largest per capita), Hungary (324,000), Russia (271,000 some had no choice), Slovakia (257,000), and Belarus (4,900).  The United States has promised to take in 100,000.   Poland alone has received 2.2 million refugees and more are coming. 

 Poland has been especially generous in opening its borders to refugees without any requirement for a visa or passport.  Our niece has taken in a family, a mother and her 15 year old son.  At first, the supply of willing homes outstripped the demand because some hotel owners are giving up their hotels for use by the refugees.  This is really Christianity in action.  The Church through Caritas has been very active.

In countries bordering Ukraine, refugees can stay in reception centers if they can't stay with friends or relatives. They are given food, medical care, and information about onward travel. The European Union has granted Ukrainians who flee the war a blanket right to stay and work throughout its 27 member nations for up to three years. They will also receive social welfare and access to housing, medical treatment and schools. 

     A New and Foreboding Strategy. Since the Russian military has taken many casualties and destroyed tanks and planes while being stalled around the cities, their strategy seems to be changing.  Street fighting breeds heavy casualties. The Russian army has dug in and taken defensive positions to protect their artillery.  The emphasis is now on even more shelling of homes, schools, stores, hospitals, etc. plus missile attacks until the traumatized cities surrender in desperation….. reminiscent of the sieges of the Middle Ages.  Already short of food and water with no heat and electricity, the number of refugees will increase even more if they are able to escape.  Often they are fired upon even after the Russians agree to a safe corridor.

Supreme Knight Patrick E. Kelly addresses a Holy Hour for Peace in the Ukraine at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, CT.  In the background is the Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Bishop and the Roman Catholic Bishop.  About 9% of the 44 million people are Catholic, mostly of the Byzantine Rite.  The rest of the 44 million population is mainly Orthodox that broke away from the Church in 1054.   In 2016 the Ukrainian Bishops consecrated the Country to Mary (see http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2016/11/182-poland-peru-and-ukraine-consecrate.html).  Ukraine, about the size of Texas, is rather underdeveloped.  Although progressing under democracy, the highway system is mostly two lanes.  Watch the Children’s Choir of Ukraine sing for world peace at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_A-hZ44sKH4&ab_channel=AMAZINGGRACE.

At the forefront are the Knights of Columbus USA collecting donations and Knights of Columbus Poland doing the bulk of the work.  There are 1800 knights in the Ukraine as well.  So it’s a case of brother knights helping other brother knights among many others in great need.

Interesting are the words of gratitude of Pope Francis to  Poland for taking in the bulk of the refugees. “You were the first to support Ukraine, opening your borders, your hearts and the doors of your homes to Ukrainians fleeing war.  You are generously offering them everything they need to live in dignity, despite the drama of the moment. I am deeply grateful to you, and I bless you from my heart.” He called for humanitarian corridors to help refugees leave safely and said that those who create war should not think God is on their side.

Families, driven out of their homes by fears of shelling and missiles, use the underground metro subway in the capital Kyiv as a bomb shelter when air raid sirens frequently go off.

You can also participate.  The Knights of Columbus announced Feb. 25 a commitment of $1 million for immediate distribution to support Ukrainian refugees, including Ukrainian Knights and their families impacted by the recent Russian invasion of their country. The organization has also launched the Ukraine Solidarity Fund, an international fundraising campaign that will match all funds raised up to an additional $500,000.  Thus each dollar donated will be matched by another dollar.  To donate, go to kofc.org and click on “Donate” in the upper right corner of the home page. 

Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly encouraged the organization’s more than 2 million members to respond with continued prayers and material support.  “The situation in Ukraine is dire and worsening. The people of Ukraine and our brother Knights in that nation need our help.”  The relief funding will be used to provide shelter, food, medical supplies, clothing and religious goods, as well as other humanitarian needs as identified, both directly in Ukraine and through refugee sites in Poland.

The Knights work with both the Latin and Greek Catholic Churches in Poland and Ukraine (Caritas), K of C councils in Poland, and with international humanitarian aid agencies to address needs quickly and effectively. Should fundraising efforts exceed immediate needs, consideration will be given to assist widows and orphans of brother Knights killed as a result of military action, and for assistance in resettlement and rebuilding for communities damaged by conflict and war.

      Knights in Poland are aiding Ukrainian refugees at the border and providing housing for refugee families.  At regional centers across Poland, Knights are also collecting supplies — including medicine, generators, sleeping bags and other necessities — and have begun to deliver them to the Archdiocese of Lviv in western Ukraine.

      In a Feb. 25 video message to the more than 1,800 Knights of Columbus in Ukraine, Supreme Knight Kelly said, “In this time of intense danger, know that your brother Knights of Columbus around the world are praying for you, your families and all the people of Ukraine.  We ask that our Lord protect you and your loved ones and restore peace in your land. We ask that he give you strength and courage to persevere.”  See the oral message at https://players.brightcove.net/802593642001/y6FLiIa0f_default/index.html?videoId=6298832211001&nbsp.   PRAY, PRAY for the Ukrainian people and peace in the world.  Prayer is powerful!  After World War II, the Soviets under Stalin had taken over Austria.  After a campaign of prayer, the occupying forces simply left with no real explanation.

Today Pope Francis re-consecrated Russia and the Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City in union with the bishops of the world and millions participating via the internet, EWTN, and in their parish churches. 

We met at St. Louis Church, Gallipolis, Ohio  at 11:30 am.  Our pastor, Fr. Thomas Hamm opened it up with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and a Marian hymn, followed by the rosary, and the reading of Pope Francis' written consecration (complete text in the Appendix).  That was followed by a litany, the Divine Praises, and two hymns: "Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace" and "Immaculate Heart of Mary".  Through Mary's intercession, may this brutal war end.

APPENDIX

Taken from https://mycatholic.life/catholic-prayers/a-prayer-for-the-consecration-of-russia-and-ukraine-to-the-immaculate-heart/#vatican 


The Vatican text of the Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, sent to bishops throughout the world. Pope Francis has invited bishops and the rest of the world to join him when he recites the prayer on March 25 in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Basilica of St. Peter
March 25, 2022

O Mary, Mother of God and our mother, in this time of trial we turn to you. As our mother, you love us and know us: No concern of our hearts is hidden from you. Mother of mercy, how often we have experienced your watchful care and your peaceful presence! You never cease to guide us to Jesus, the prince of peace.

Yet we have strayed from that path of peace. We have forgotten the lesson learned from the tragedies of the last century, the sacrifice of the millions who fell in two world wars. 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.

We chose to ignore God, to be satisfied with our illusions, to grow arrogant and aggressive, to suppress innocent lives and to stockpile weapons. We stopped being our neighbor’s keepers and stewards of our common home. We have ravaged the garden of the earth with war, and by our sins we have broken the heart of our heavenly Father, who desires us to be brothers and sisters. We grew indifferent to everyone and everything except ourselves. Now with shame we cry out: Forgive us, Lord!

Holy Mother, amid the misery of our sinfulness, amid our struggles and weaknesses, amid the mystery of iniquity that is evil and war, you remind us that God never abandons us, but continues to look upon us with love, ever ready to forgive us and raise us up to new life. He has given you to us and made your Immaculate Heart a refuge for the church and for all humanity. By God’s gracious will, you are ever with us; even in the most troubled moments of our history, you are there to guide us with tender love.

We now turn to you and knock at the door of your heart. We are your beloved children. In every age you make yourself known to us, calling us to conversion. 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?” You are able to untie the knots of our hearts and of our times. In you we place our trust. We are confident that, especially in moments of trial, you will not be deaf to our supplication and will come to our aid.

That is what you did at Cana in Galilee, when you interceded with Jesus and he worked the first of his signs. To preserve the joy of the wedding feast, you said to him: “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3). Now, O Mother, repeat those words and that prayer, for in our own day we have run out of the wine of hope, joy has fled, fraternity has faded. We have forgotten our humanity and squandered the gift of peace. We opened our hearts to violence and destructiveness. How greatly we need your maternal help!

Therefore, O Mother, hear our prayer.

Star of the Sea, do not let us be shipwrecked in the tempest of war.

Ark of the New Covenant, inspire projects and paths of reconciliation.

Queen of Heaven, restore God’s peace to the world.

Eliminate hatred and the thirst for revenge, and teach us forgiveness.

Free us from war, protect our world from the menace of nuclear weapons.

Queen of the Rosary, make us realize our need to pray and to love.

Queen of the Human Family, show people the path of fraternity.

Queen of Peace, obtain peace for our world.

O Mother, may your sorrowful plea stir our hardened hearts. May the tears you shed for us make this valley parched by our hatred blossom anew. Amid the thunder of weapons, may your prayer turn our thoughts to peace. May your maternal touch soothe those who suffer and flee from the rain of bombs. May your motherly embrace comfort those forced to leave their homes and their native land. May your sorrowful heart move us to compassion and inspire us to open our doors and to care for our brothers and sisters who are injured and cast aside.

Holy Mother of God, as you stood beneath the cross, Jesus, seeing the disciple at your side, said: “Behold your son” (Jn 19:26). In this way, he entrusted each of us to you. To the disciple, and to each of us, he said: “Behold, your Mother” (Jn 19:27). Mother Mary, we now desire to welcome you into our lives and our history.

At this hour, a weary and distraught humanity stands with you beneath the cross, needing to entrust itself to you and, through you, to consecrate itself to Christ. The people of Ukraine and Russia, who venerate you with great love, now turn to you, even as your heart beats with compassion for them and for all those peoples decimated by war, hunger, injustice and poverty.

Therefore, 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. Accept this act that we carry out with confidence and love. Grant that war may end and peace spread throughout the world. The “fiat” that arose from your heart opened the doors of history to the Prince of Peace. 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.

Through your intercession, may God’s mercy be poured out on the earth and the gentle rhythm of peace return to mark our days. Our Lady of the “fiat,” on whom the Holy Spirit descended, restore among us the harmony that comes from God. May you, our “living fountain of hope,” water the dryness of our hearts. In your womb Jesus took flesh; help us to foster the growth of communion. You once trod the streets of our world; lead us now on the paths of peace. Amen.

Read on Vatican website in various languages>>>

Personal Prayer for the Consecration of Russia & Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Most glorious Mother,
Queen of Heaven and Earth,
To you do we turn in our time of need.

Your Heart is most pure,
Your virtues overflow in superabundance,
You are the Immaculate Conception,
You are our Mother and Queen.

In the face of grave evil,
In this time of war,
In this time of devastation and chaos,
We entrust all to you.

Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Please pray for us,
Cover us with your mantle of protection,
Free us from violence,
Free us from war.

Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Call us to repentance,
Open the eyes of sinners,
Pour down your Son’s mercy,
Pour down His abundant grace.

We consecrate to your Immaculate Heart this day,
Ourselves and our loved ones,
Our families and churches,
Our communities and countries.

Most Immaculate Heart of Mary,
In union with the Holy Father in Rome,
With the bishops throughout the world,
With all the faithful at prayer,
We consecrate Russia and Ukraine to you.

Receive them into your Immaculate Heart,
Bring healing and peace,
Strength and wisdom,
Love and compassion,
Mercy and forgiveness,
Reconciliation to all.

Through the powerful mediation of your Immaculate Heart,
Bind satan and all demons,
Thwart their evil plots.

St. Michael the Archangel,
All angels and saints,
Pray for Ukraine,
Pray for Russia,
Pray for peace in the world,
Pray for peace in every heart.

Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Pray for us.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,
Have mercy on us.

Jesus, I trust in You.
Jesus, I trust in You.
Jesus, I trust in You!

Amen.

A Personal Act of Consecration to the Blessed Mother

O Most Holy Mary, Virgin Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth, in accordance with thy wish made known at Fatima, I consecrate myself today to your Immaculate Heart. To you I entrust all that I have, all that I am, to your blessed charge and special keeping and into your Immaculate Heart. For this day, for every day of my life, and at the hour of my death, I commend my soul and body.

To you do I entrust all my hopes and consolations, all my trials and miseries, my life and the end of my life, that through your most holy intercession and your merits all my actions may be ordered and disposed according to your will, and that of your Divine Son.

Reign over me dear Mother, that I may be yours in prosperity, in adversity, in health and in sickness, in life and in death. Grant that I may have no other spirit but your spirit, to know Jesus Christ and His Divine and Holy Will; that I may have no other soul but your soul, to praise and glorify the Lord; that I may have no other heart but your heart, to love God with a pure and burning love like yours.

My beloved Mother, my glorious Queen, I am all yours and all that I have is yours. Amen.

Pope invites bishops to join him in consecration of Russia and Ukraine

The Consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary will be pronounced by the Pope on the afternoon of Friday 25 March in St Peter’s Basilica. The act of consecration will be performed in communion with the local Churches throughout the world. Read more>>>


Various diocesan information on joining the consecration can be found here.

       Also see:

Why Consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary?

In an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to three shepherd children in Fátima, Portugal on July 13, 1917, our Blessed mother made the following request:

You see Hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them God wishes to establish in the world the devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If they do what I will tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace. The war is going to end. But if they do not stop offending God, another and worse one will begin in the reign of Pius XI. When you see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know that is the great sign God gives you that He is going to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, of hunger, and of persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this I come to ask the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart and the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays. If they listen to my requests, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not she will scatter her errors through the world, provoking wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, and it will be converted and a certain period of peace will be granted to the world.

Read more about Our Lady of Fátima from EWTN>>>


LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS TO THE BISHOPS
ACT OF CONSECRATION TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY

Dear Brother,

Nearly a month has passed since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine that is daily inflicting immense suffering upon its sorely tried people and threatening world peace. At this dark hour, the Church is urgently called to intercede before the Prince of Peace and to demonstrate her closeness to those directly affected by the conflict. I am grateful to the many people who have responded with great generosity to my appeals for prayer, fasting and charity.

Now, also in response to numerous requests by the People of God, I wish in a special way to entrust the nations at war to the Blessed Virgin Mary. As I announced yesterday at the conclusion of the Angelus prayer, on 25 March, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, I intend to carry out a solemn Act of Consecration of humanity, and Russia and Ukraine in particular, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Since it is fitting that we should invoke peace with hearts renewed by God’s forgiveness, the Act of Consecration will take place in the context of a Celebration of Penance to be held in Saint Peter’s Basilica at 5:00 p.m., Rome time. The Act itself will take place about 6:30 p.m.

This Act of Consecration is meant to be a gesture of the universal Church, which in this dramatic moment lifts up to God, through his Mother and ours, the cry of pain of all those who suffer and implore an end to the violence, and to entrust the future of our human family to the Queen of Peace. I ask you to join in this Act by inviting the priests, religious and faithful to assemble in their churches and places of prayer on 25 March, so that God’s Holy People may raise a heartfelt and choral plea to Mary our Mother. I am sending you the text of the prayer of consecration, so that all of us can recite it throughout that day, in fraternal union.

I thank you for the attention you will give to this request and for your ready cooperation. With great affection, I bless you and the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care. May Jesus protect you and the Holy Virgin watch over you. I ask you, please, also to pray for me.

Fraternally,

From Saint John Lateran, 21 March 2022

FRANCIS