Pope’s consecration of Russia and Ukraine to Mary leads to questions


Eastern Europe


Pope Francis bows before a statue of Our Lady of Fatima, during a penitential celebration service in St. Peter's Basilica in The Vatican. Photo AFP, Vincenzo Pinto

During the penance of Lent, Pope Francis consecrated Russia and Ukraine to Mary. This leads to alienation of his Protestant counterparts.

Standing in front of the statue of Mary in Rome, he said, “Mother of God and ours, we solemnly entrust en consecrate ourselves, the Church and all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine, to your Immaculate Heart. Welcome this act of ours that we carry out with trust and love, make the war stop, provide the world with peace.” This was reported by Vatican News in an earlier released text. In addition, the Pope prayed Mary for the Ukrainian and Russian people and for all who are “ravaged by war, hunger, injustice and misery.”

Pope calls for peace

At the same time, he lamented the current nuclear threat, Ecclessia reports. According to Pope Francis, humanity has forgotten about the tragedies of the last century, the sacrifice of millions in world wars. “I renew my appeal: enough is enough. Let them stop, let the weapons be quiet, and seriously negotiate for peace.” He called the war “cruel and senseless”.

The Pope did not explicitly mention Russia as the aggressor in the conflict, the Nederlands Dagblad reports. Yet, he said that “a Christian without love, is as a needle which does not sew, but stabs and wounds.” That statement can be interpreted as implicitly referring to Putin. At the event, both the Russian and the Ukrainian ambassadors were present.

Approach Vatican raises eyebrows

Despite the seeming neutrality of the Pope, his consecration led to consternation. The Nederlands Dagblad writes that consecration means “a free, total, irrevocable and perpetual dedication, only to God. In practice, one could only consecrate himself – and not others – to God, Christ or the Holy Spirit, not to Mary. If one wanted to connect to Mary, one could entrust himself to the prayer of Mary.”

On Friday, however, the Pope did not only ask Mary to pray for Russia and Ukraine but to act from heaven. That way, she would take the place of Jesus or the Holy Spirit, the Nederlands Dagblad argues.

The act of Pope Francis is Roman Catholicism on “full display”, Protestante Digital criticises. It argues that, by asking Mary to act from heaven, she is seen as “the mother of the Church, the mother of the whole world and the one who is always involved in everything that the Son is and will be, has done and will do.” That view has serious consequences for the view on Christ and His redemptive work, according to Protestante Digital. “As the Pope speaks of Christ, he entrusts the world to Mary.”

In addition, the Pope consecrated Russia and Ukraine without their consent. The Eastern Orthodox Church, dominant in both countries, does not even believe in the immaculate conception. Therefore, the consecration of the Pope might even enlarge the gap between Russia and Vatican: The Russian Orthodox Church could accuse the Pope of Western arrogance.



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