Pope Plans ‘Consecration’ of Russia, Ukraine on Friday

Pope Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Friday, the feast of the Annunciation.

The Act of Consecration will be prayed during the “24 Hours for the Lord” Lenten penitential service in St. Peter’s Basilica. The service will begin at 5 PM Rome time, which is noon Eastern Standard Time.

The Pope will pray the Act of Consecration around 1:30 PM EST, and has asked all bishops and priests to join him spiritually in this prayer, which will be broadcast across Vatican News channels with English-language commentary, Vatican News reported Thursday.

Francis asked all Catholics to assemble in their parishes on Friday to pray the act of consecration of the world, particularly Russia and Ukraine, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Catholic News Agency reported.

“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 March 25, so that God’s Holy People may raise a heartfelt and choral plea to Mary our Mother,” Francis said in a letter sent to all the world’s bishops.Earlier Wednesday, Francis said the war in Ukraine showed that humanity had to shed a strange instinct for “self-destruction” and that buying more weapons was not the ultimate solution to any conflict.

Francis asked participants at his weekly general audience to remember all the victims of the war – the dead, including “fallen soldiers on one side or the other,” the wounded, homeless and refugees.

“May the Lord send his spirit to make us understand that war is a defeat of humanity, that we have to defeat all those who make war …,” he said.

“(Making war) is a need that destroys us,” he said, asking God to “free us from this ‘need’ for self-destruction.”

It was the second time since the war in Ukraine began that the pope has evoked the specter of a nuclear war.

Francis has made a number of strong condemnations of the war, but he criticized Russia only implicitly, so far avoiding mentioning it by name.

He has used terms such as unjustified aggression, slaughter and atrocities.

Moscow says the action it launched on Feb. 24 is a “special military operation” designed not to occupy territory but to demilitarize its neighbor and purge it of what it sees as dangerous nationalists. Francis has already rejected that terminology.

“Let us also pray that those who govern understand that buying weapons and manufacturing weapons is not the solution to the problem,” he said on Wednesday.

“The solution is to work together for peace, as the Bible says, in order to transform weapons into instruments of peace.”

Francis has in the past said funds spent on weapons should be diverted to other aims, such as fighting world hunger and developing and distributing vaccines. He has also called for a ban on nuclear weapons, saying even their possession for deterrence is immoral.

Material from Reuters news service was used in this story.


Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” ( John 14:6-7 Modern English Version)

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