“War is not to be answered with war, evil is not to be answered with evil, hatred is not to be answered with hatred,” he said, Vatican News reported. “We must open our doors and recognize that the other is not our enemy, the other is not our rival, but is our brother, with whom we must build history, build peace, and it is a demanding job.”
The statue will be in Ukraine when Pope Francis dedicates the country and Russia to Mary’s heart. The Vatican first announced on March 15 that the pope will perform the consecration in St. Peter’s Basilica on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, will do the same at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal.
Pope John Paul II also consecrated Russia and the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, in 1984.
Pope Francis’ decision comes after Ukraine’s Latin Rite Catholic bishops asked the pontiff earlier this month “to publicly perform the act of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Ukraine and Russia, as requested by the Blessed Virgin in Fatima.”
Russia is intricately connected to the Fatima apparitions of 1917, when the Blessed Virgin Mary shared three secrets. The second secret revealed that World War I would end, and predicted another war that would start during the reign of Pius XI if people continued to offend God and Russia was not consecrated to Mary’s Immaculate Heart.
Sister Lucia recalled in her memoirs that Our Lady asked for “the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays” to prevent a second world war.
She remembered Mary telling her that “If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing 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,” Mary is recorded as saying. “The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
In a 1989 letter, Sister Lucia confirmed that Pope John Paul II satisfied Our Lady’s request for Russia’s consecration in 1984. Other authorities, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, also have affirmed the consecration was completed to Sister Lucia’s satisfaction.
Katie Yoder is a correspondent in CNA's Washington, D.C. bureau. She covers pro-life issues, the U.S. Catholic bishops, public policy, and Congress. She previously worked for Townhall.com, National Review, and the Media Research Center.