VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — The following interview was sent to LifeSiteNews by the office of His Eminence Mauro Cardinal Piacenza, the Penitentiary Major, i.e. the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican dicastery tasked with absolutions, indulgences, and other aspects of ecclesiastical pardon. The interview has been translated from the original Italian into English.
Your Eminence, this Lent, the penitential liturgy presided over by our Holy Father Pope Francis is scheduled for March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation. How do these two things fit together?
Cdl. Piacenza: The penitential liturgy has been a Lenten custom since the end of the 2014 Course on the Internal forum, a course organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary and which is now in its thirty-second edition, with growing attendance every year. This year, we’ve already reached 800 participants, including remote participants. It is a service offered to the whole Church, and above all to young priests, and to seminarians who are about to be ordained. The fact that the penitential liturgy happens to coincide with the Solemnity of the Annunciation this year, on March 25, is pure providence, inviting us to reflect on the extraordinary figure of Mary, who is the Mother of mercy, because she is the Mother of the Savior.
The Annunciation calls to our minds the great mystery of the Archangel Gabriel announcing to Mary the conception of the Eternal Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit in the virginal womb of a creature destined for this by God through her preservation from sin.
Mary is herself a luminous sign of mercy for all of humanity, a sign that the Father continually manifests to us and offers us.
The whole world has been made aware that the Pope will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Is such a gesture still relevant in 2022?
Cdl. Piacenza: As shown by the dramatic circumstances of current events, not only does this gesture retain all of its relevance today, but it has now even become a matter of urgency.
After all, peace is intimately linked to mercy. The inner peace, the peace of the heart, the peace of the conscience of each person depends on divine mercy, on the awareness that one’s iniquities and sins can be solved only in the loving embrace of the Father; the same is true of a peace understood in a broader sense.
There can be no peace without justice, and there can be no peace without mercy!
Therefore, the link between peace and mercy is deeply rooted in the will of God, which must increasingly become the will of men. Learning to be merciful to one another, following the example of the merciful Father, is also the prerequisite for peace among nations.
At Fátima, Our Lady herself asked, through Sister Lucy, for the consecration of Russia to her, to mitigate the tragedies of the 20th century.
This request is always relevant, so much so that the Pope has arranged for the same consecration to take place simultaneously in Fátima, Portugal.
There have been various “consecrations” in the past decades, which have been evaluated in various ways by the Servant of God Sister Lucy of Fátima and by a number of commentators. How do you explain these differences?
Cdl. Piacenza: Popes Pius XII and John Paul II consecrated Russia and the peoples of the world to the Immaculate of Heart of Mary, according to the understanding that was given to them at the time and based on opportunity and circumstances. Later, Benedict XVI in his homily on the great esplanade at the shrine of Fátima, on May 13, 2010, said that “we would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete.”
The Popes have wanted the best for the Church and for humanity, avoiding unforeseeable and possibly even dangerous consequences, with gestures that would likely not have been adequately understood.
I think that, beyond the specific form of a gesture, Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary look at the substance, the truth of the gesture and its spirit. For our part, as we progress on our journey, every act of consecration is – and must be – a radical call to personal, ecclesial, and social conversion.
Please read the latest from LifeSiteNews about the text of the Act of Consecration which was just released by the Vatican: 'BREAKING: Text of Pope Francis’ consecration of ‘humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine’ released'
PETITION UPDATE (3/23/22):
The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, on the feast of the Annunciation, March 25.
On March 15, the Holy See Press Office wrote:
On Friday 25 March, during the Celebration of Penance at which he will preside at 17.00 in Saint Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The same act, on the same day, will be carried out in Fatima by His Eminence Cardinal Krajewski, Apostolic Almoner, as envoy of the Holy Father.
This unexpected and monumental announcement comes after the Catholic bishops of Ukraine issued an urgent and heartfelt plea to the Holy Father on Ash Wednesday, asking that he make the consecration as Our Lady of Fatima had requested. The bishops wrote:
Responding to this prayer, we humbly ask Your Holiness to publicly perform the act of consecration to the Sacred Immaculate Heart of Mary of Ukraine and Russia, as requested by the Blessed Virgin in Fatima.
May the Mother of God, Queen of Peace, accept our prayer: Regina pacis, ora pro nobis! In July 1917, Our Lady of Fatima gave the three visionaries this message, asking for the explicit consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart:
To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. 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. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.
Our Lady of Fatima then repeated the request in 1929, when she appeared to Sr. Lucia saying:
"The moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father to make, and to order that in union with him and at the same time, all the bishops of the world make the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, promising to convert it because of this day of prayer and worldwide reparation."
While Pope John Paul II made an “entrustment-consecration” of the world, including Russia, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, 1984, he deliberately avoided making the explicit mention of Russia as Our Lady had requested.
Following the announcement that Pope Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine, LifeSiteNews is now asking the Pope to ensure that the consecration is performed precisely as Our Lady of Fatima requested. In order to fulfil the request Our Lady made, the Pope must "order" the "bishops of the world" to make the consecration of Russia "in union with him and at the same time."
Along with this, the day of consecration must be a "day of prayer and worldwide reparation."
The importance of the specifications made by Our Lady was noted by Sr. Lucia. Having seen a copy of Pope John Paul II’s consecration text prior to the 1984 “entrustment-consecration,” she said “That consecration cannot have a decisive character.”
Then in 1985, following Pope John Paul II’s "entrustment-consecration," Sr. Lucia observed that:
"There was no participation of all the bishops, and there was no mention of Russia." She was then asked, "So the consecration was not done as requested by Our Lady?" to which she replied: "No. Many bishops attached no importance to this act."
With Pope Francis’ proposed consecration only days away, LifeSiteNews is urging him to fulfil the request of Fatima, to "order" the bishops to join him in making the consecration and to make the day one of “prayer and worldwide reparation.”
Bishop Athanasius Schneider has also composed a prayer to be said for the consecration of Russia, in the manner Our Lady asked for:
O Immaculate Heart of Mary, you are the holy Mother of God and our tender Mother. Look upon the distress in which the Church and the whole of humanity are living because of the spread of materialism and the persecution of the Church. In Fatima, you warned against these errors, as you spoke about the errors of Russia. You are the Mediatrix of all graces. Implore your Divine Son to grant this special grace for the Pope: that he might consecrate Russia to your Immaculate Heart, so that Russia will be converted, a period of peace will be granted to the whole world, and your Immaculate Heart will triumph, through an authentic renewal of the Church in the splendor of the purity of the Catholic faith, of the sacredness of Divine worship and of the holiness of Christian life. O Queen of the Holy Rosary and our dear Mother, turn your merciful eyes to us and graciously hear this our trusting prayer.
+Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana
PETITION UPDATE (3/2/22) -
The Ukrainian Catholic bishops have specifically asked Pope Francis to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, according to the request of Our Lady of Fatima.
Here is a link to their Ash Wednesday letter: http://kmc.media/2022/03/02/yepyskopy-ukrayiny-prosyat-papu-prysvyatyty-ukrayinu-ta-rosiyu-sercyu-mariyi.html
Please WATCH the new John-Henry Westen show about this momentous event: https://www.lifesitenews.com/episodes/ukraines-catholic-bishops-ask-pope-francis-to-consecrate-russia-to-the-immaculate-heart-of-mary
Then, please read LifeSiteNews latest story on this amazing development: 'Ukraine’s Catholic bishops ask Pope Francis to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary'
The great drama now is the Russian invasion of Ukraine. How far will it go, how will the West and especially the U.S. respond, and will China now be tempted to attack Taiwan? These questions are on everyone’s mind, including fear that it might lead to a far greater war.
It is hard to know exactly what to say other than Russia’s invasion must be condemned. And, that the world must now pray for peace.
Keeping those things in mind, LifeSite now proposes to resurrect this petition - now, more urgent than before - asking Pope Francis to reconsecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Please SIGN and SHARE this important petition to Pope Francis, imploring him to reconsecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the same way that Our Lady of Fatima asked in 1917.
We humbly ask Pope Francis to use the following wording:
“In accordance with Our Lady’s request at Fatima, I, Pope Francis, consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in union with all the bishops of the world.”
“I also consecrate Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in union with all the bishops of the world.”
The bishops’ wording should be:
“In accordance with Our Lady’s request at Fatima, I, _______________, consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, at the same time as, and in union with, Pope Francis.”
Speaking in Rome only 5 years ago, Cardinal Raymond Burke called on the Catholic faithful to “work for the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary” in fidelity to the request by Our Lady of Fatima.
The Cardinal explained:
"Certainly, Pope Saint John Paul II consecrated the world, including Russia, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, 1984. But, today, once again, we hear the call of Our Lady of Fatima to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart, in accord with her explicit instruction."
This call, whether in 1917, or 1984, or in 2017, is EVEN MORE relevant today!
Pope Saint John Paul II himself wanted to name Russia explicitly in his Consecration, but in the end yielded to pressure not to from advisors. Cardinal Josef Cordes, former president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, confirmed this fact on May 13, 2017, based on his own conversation with the sainted pope.
However, after several years of confusion, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published "The Message of Fatima," on June 26, 2000, in which we learn that Sr. Lucia confirmed that the Pope's consecration was, in fact, done according to Our Lady's wishes (emphasis added):
Sister Lucia personally confirmed that this solemn and universal act of consecration corresponded to what Our Lady wished ("Sim, està feita, tal como Nossa Senhora a pediu, desde o dia 25 de Março de 1984": "Yes it has been done just as Our Lady asked, on 25 March 1984": Letter of 8 November 1989). Hence any further discussion or request is without basis.
But, Cardinal Burke explained why a consecration including Russia is so important: "[It] is at once a recognition of the importance which Russia continues to have in God’s plan for peace and a sign of profound love for our brothers and sisters in Russia."
For those who may object to calling for the reconsecration of Russia, on the basis that it has already been done, Cardinal Burke recalled the words of Pope St. John Paul II who, in 1982, during his consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart noted: “Mary’s appeal is not for just once. Her appeal must be taken up by generation after generation, in accordance with the ever new ‘signs of the times’. It must be unceasingly returned to. It must ever be taken up anew.”
Burke, former prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, gave his address in the month of the centenary of Our Lady of Fatima’s first apparition to the three shepherd children.
Thank you for SIGNING and SHARING this urgent petition to Pope Francis, urging him to reconsecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and imploring God to quell the hostilities.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
'Russia’s invasion is an opportunity to recall the message of Our Lady of Fatima' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/russias-invasion-is-an-opportunity-to-recall-the-message-of-our-lady-of-fatima
'Russia attacks Ukraine: explosions in multiple cities as troops move across borders' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/russia-launches-attack-on-ukraine-explosions-in-multiple-cities-as-troops-move-across-the-border/
Is there, therefore, a certain uniqueness to Fátima, compared to other Marian apparitions, even those that are recognized by the Church?
Cdl. Piacenza: Fátima certainly has its own specificity, in that it presents itself as a prophetic apparition, which enters deeply into historical events and points to conversion as an instrument of salvation and peace. Always keeping in mind that what God wants to reveal to us, through the presence and the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is only and always for the conversion and peace of humanity.
Certainly, Fátima is also characterized by this prophetic aspect, which is something that isn’t highlighted so clearly in other apparitions.
Will the Pope’s gesture have any effect on the serious international tensions brought about by the war in Ukraine?
Cdl. Piacenza: I am certain of this. Perhaps we will not be given immediately the gift of measuring what God will work through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, thanks to this gesture. It is not for us men to measure the power of Marian intercession with Divine Mercy, which from a perspective of historical theology, has power over all things. A consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary certainly does not remove man from his responsibilities and from using his freedom in accordance with truth and goodness. Let us remember that prayer, if done properly, has an enormous power, such that enables us to say, with Saint Bernard, that the intercession of the Mother of God bears the characteristics of “supplicating omnipotence.”
The consecration will have its own efficacy which, if not measurable by purely human criteria, may still change the course of history, according to the assurance that, as the Blessed Virgin Mary herself promised, her Immaculate Heart will triumph.
In the end it will triumph! And it will be the triumph of divine mercy.