03/21/2022, 09.15
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The fate of Ukraine entrusted to Mary

by Vladimir Rozanskij

On 25 March Pope Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to Mary's immaculate heart. Mobilisation of Catholics in 300 Russian parishes. The prayers of Ukrainians dedicated above all to the martyred Mariupol.



Moscow (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis' decision to consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25 has revived Catholics in both countries, subjected for almost a month to an epochal trial of unprecedented proportions: the Ukrainians having to face the invader; the Russians being part of the invading people, without even being able to raise their voices to stop or limit a violence exercised even in the name of a pseudo-religious ideal.

The members of the Russian Catholic Bishops' Conference met for their 55th assembly in the village of Listvjanka near Irkutsk in Siberia (see photo), the easternmost diocese of the four existing in the territory of the Federation, under the presidency of the Archbishop of the Mother of God in Moscow, Msgr. Present were Mgr Josif Werth, bishop of the Transfiguration in Novosibirsk, Mgr Kirill Klimowicz, bishop of St Joseph in Irkutsk, Mgr Klemens Pikkel of St Clement's in Saratov and the auxiliary bishop of St Petersburg Nikolaj Dubinin.  Representing the nuncio, Mgr Giovanni D'Aniello, were the secretary, Jesuit Fr Stephan Lipke, and the councillor of the Moscow Nunciature, Mgr Petr Tarnavsky.

The bishops appealed to Catholics and all those who believe in God's mercy to join in the universal prayer for the gift of peace in Ukraine, Russia and the whole world, to be accompanied by fasting and works of charity during the Lenten period. All parishes and communities throughout Russia are invited to plan in every possible way to participate in the consecration announced by the Pope, preferably at the conclusion of a Eucharistic celebration, using the special "prayer for peace" inserted in the missal. The words of the pope who teaches that "reality is greater than the idea" were recalled, and it is therefore fundamental to strive for mutual understanding, and to be heralds of "words of reconciliation" (2 Cor 5:19-20).

The dramatic moment being experienced also coincides with the end of restrictions due to the pandemic in Russia, and the return to the fullness of community assembly. Catholics in over 300 parishes in Russia are mobilising themselves to live out these days of intense prayer, exchanging indications and exhortations on church websites, which are often one of the few means of communication not affected by the restrictions of recent days.

On the Facebook page of the "Parish Notices", in which all Moscow's Catholics take part, people talk about the prayer of the 25th as a "historic event to be lived together with Christ, Mary and the Pope", which will be followed in the evening in the large hall of the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in the capital, recently restored amidst much controversy. The hall of the former Soviet Committee for Sport has become a new reference point for Muscovite Catholics, along with the churches of St Louis of the French and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

The Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow Kirill (Gundjaev) also invited the faithful to join the Catholics in some way, addressing a special prayer in these days to the Mother of God. As published on the patriarchate's website, he recalled that "we are living in a very difficult historical moment, in which all our thoughts, anxieties and invocations are linked to the events taking place in Ukraine, but even in the most difficult times our people have sought help from the Most Holy Mother of God, who has always been the protector of Holy Rus'". The Patriarch invited all to recite every day the special "Moleben" to Mary "for all the pains of the soul and for every worry", adding a special invocation for peace.

In Ukraine, Catholics and Orthodox are also united in prayer for peace, together with all believers of various religions and people of good will. Representatives of all the religious communities in Odessa have released a video on YouTube with a common appeal for peace between Christians, Jews and Muslims, who for centuries have been united in the life of the "peaceful" city.

Prayers are especially addressed to the martyred Mariupol, the target of the most violent attacks in recent days: The city was named after a relative of the Tsar at the end of the 18th century, who had encouraged the exodus of 30,000 Greeks from the Crimea, where coexistence with the Tatars had also caused enormous suffering. In time, the local inhabitants decided to consecrate themselves to the Mother of God, becoming the true Mariopolis, "city of Mary", mother of Ukraine, Russia and the whole world.

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