Catholic Bishops in Africa Respond to Pope Francis’ Call for Ukraine, Russia Consecration

Pope Francis celebrates a centenary Mass marking the apparition of the Virgin Mary to three children in Fatima, Portugal, 13 May 2017. Credit: Tiziana Fabi / AFP via Getty Images)

Catholic Bishops in Africa have, in separate statements, responded to Pope Francis’ call for prayer and consecration of Russia and Ukraine scheduled to take place on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, Friday, March 25.

On March 15, officials of the Holy See Press Office announced the consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The director of the Holy See press office, Matteo Bruni said, “The occasion, as indicated in recent days, will be the Celebration of Penance, scheduled at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, in St. Peter’s Basilica.” 

The Vatican official confirmed that Pope Francis had invited “the bishops of the whole world and their Priests to join him in praying for peace and in consecrating and entrusting Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

In their respective messages, various Catholic Church leaders in Africa make reference to Pope Francis' prayer for peace and dialogue between the two Eastern European nations following the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

“The conflict between Russia and Ukraine leaves no one indifferent, given the enormous loss of human life and property,” Archbishop Samuel Kleda of Cameroon’s Douala Archdiocese says in a statement dated Tuesday, March 22 shared with ACI Africa.


Archbishop Kleda directs “all the Parish Priests to invite the faithful to participate in the evening Mass on 25 March, the solemnity of the Annunciation, to raise our intentions together to the Lord so that peace may return to these two countries.”

“I will myself preside at the Mass for this cause at the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Douala at 6.15 p.m.,” the Cameroonian Catholic Archbishop says.

In the West African nation of Benin, Catholic Bishops invite the faithful to a Vigil Mass on March 25.

“We invite the faithful to participate in the first vigil of the Catholic Church in Benin for the defense and protection of life on 25 March 2022, also day of prayer for peace in Russia and Ukraine,” members of the Episcopal Conference of Benin (CEB) say in their collective statement dated Tuesday, March 22.

In the Island nation of Mauritius, the Local Ordinary of Port Louis, Maurice Cardinal Piat, is expected to preside over a “time of prayer for peace on Friday 25 March at noon at the St. Louis Cathedral.”

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“This time of prayer comes at a time when, at the same time as the bombing intensifies on the ground, the negotiations between diplomats behind the scenes are reaching a crucial phase,” Cardinal Piat says in his Wednesday, March 23 message.

The member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans) adds, “We should therefore pray not only for the people who are suffering from the war but also for those responsible for bringing these negotiations to a successful conclusion.”

“The highest authorities of the country as well as the diplomatic corps have been invited to this time of prayer,” Cardinal Piat says.

In the Southern African nation of Zambia, Bishop Benjamin Phiri of Ndola Diocese has asked all the Priests, Religious men and women and all the Lay Faithful to join Pope Francis “in this special moment of prayer.”

“All the parishes in the Diocese have been asked to celebrate a special Mass at the same time (18:00hrs Zambian time) on the said date except for the parishes based in Ndola District,” Bishop Phiri directs in his message dated March 19.


He adds, “The parishes in Ndola District have been asked to send only 10 parishioners each to join the Bishop and all Ndola based Priests to celebrate the said special moment of prayer, which has been scheduled to take place Friday, March 25.”

“The Mass to be celebrated will be the Solemnity of Annunciation of the Lord, thus all concelebrating Priests are reminded to bring with them white color of vestments to be worn,” the Zambian Catholic Bishop further directs. 

In South Africa, Bishop Duncan Theodore Tsoke of Kimberley Diocese invites “all the Faithful in the Diocese of Kimberley to join His Holiness Pope Francis in prayer this Friday, 25 March 2022, on the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord.”

“This is the gesture of the universal Church to invoke an end to the violence and suffering of innocent people,” Bishop Tsoke says in a Wednesday, March 23 Facebook post.

In the West African nation of Nigeria, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, has urged “Bishops and all Nigerians to join the Holy Father in this solemn consecration by 5 p.m. Nigeria time on Friday, as requested by the Pope.”

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The Apostolic Nuncio is expected to lead “a prayer service (not Mass) on Friday 25 March, 2022 at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Area 3 Garki, Abuja by 5 p.m.”

“Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama and his Priests, religious and faithful of Abuja Archdiocese, some eminent personalities of the diplomatic corps and some Nigerian Ministers are expected to attend the service,” Archbishop Filipazzi says in a statement dated March 23.

On Tuesday, March 22, the Vatican released the text of the prayer for the March 25 prayer initiative for peace in Russia and Ukraine.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.