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Pope Francis and bishops all around the world consecrated themselves and all humanity to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The full prayer prayed can be found on our website under “Bulletin – Notices”. Pope Francis has taken a significant step in his condemnation of war in Ukraine and promotion of peace. He has dedicated this Friday (25 March) to the consecration of Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The day is also the Feast of the Annunciation, celebrating Mary’s acceptance of the invitation to become the mother of Jesus. The gesture echoes his prayer on Ash Wednesday, ‘May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war’. He has invited all the Catholic Bishops of the world to join him in making the consecration. The Pope’s move is bold. It implies that prayer is universal and crosses all national boundaries. In times of war this is not a popular position. We mostly insist that God is on our side and absent on the opposed side, and often see prayer that includes our enemies as a surrender to moral equivalence. Some, too, would say that the Pope has no right to consecrate nations to Mary without asking their permission. But precisely because of this instinctive partisan response it is necessary to pray for the people on both sides and to see war as the enemy that wounds the people whom God loves. Both the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches share a common devotion to Mary as the Mother of God, expressed in their liturgy, hymns and art. It is a rich part of their tradition. In times of crisis the faithful pray through Mary. ......... Consistent with Pope Francis’ governance of the Roman Catholic Church, his first concern in making this gesture, however, is not to avoid misunderstandings but to focus directly on what God wants for God’s people and what Christ came to offer: namely, life. The consecration is an opportunity for people in all nations to wish that the people caught in conflict will be offered and choose life over death, and will pledge allegiance to a God who makes peace over the false gods that foment war. No one comes to prayer, particularly not in times of war, with clean hands and an irreproachable conscience. They are things we might aspire to and find help to attain through our prayer. That is why 25 March this year will be a big day as we associate ourselves with Pope Francis.


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