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VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI plans to join the consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25.

Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the personal secretary to the retired pope, confirmed to Catholic News Agency that Pope Benedict will join the consecration. CNA said it is likely the Pope Emeritus will do it privately and not with Pope Francis in a public ceremony.

“Of course, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will join Pope Francis’ call in prayer with regard to the consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” Gänswein told CNA.

Pope Francis has asked, but not ordered, all bishops to participate in the consecration of Russia and Ukraine.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider has written a prayer to be said daily to prepare for the consecration.

Bp. Schneider told LifeSiteNews why he wants all bishops to join in the consecration: “At a time when the Church and the world are passing through an unprecedented spiritual crisis, the common collegial act of consecration to the Immaculate Heart, made by the Pope in union with the world’s bishops, will be a powerful instrument for Divine Providence to pour out those special graces which the Church and the world so urgently need.”

A list of some of the bishops who plan to participate so far can be found here.

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