Filipino bishops to join Pope in consecrating Russia, Ukraine to Mary

Erik Tenedero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 17 2022 10:34 PM

Pope Francis EPA-EFE
Pope Francis meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a private audience at the Vatican City, 08 February 2020. EPA-EFE/GREGORIO BORGIA / POOL

MANILA - Filipino bishops will join Pope Francis in consecrating Russia and Ukraine to Mary on March 25. 

This amid an ongoing invasion of Russia in Ukraine that has killed thousands including civilians. 

In a circular released on Thursday, the president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said that even if Europe is relatively far from the Philippines, the Southeast Asian nation has every reason to be apprehensive about the conflict. 

"In our own context in the Asia Pacific region, we can only hope that Russia's sudden shift to an expansionistic geopolitical policy does not motivate any of its allies from doing the same thing on their neighboring country," Pabillo said. 

The prelate said the continuing violence in Ukraine could escalate to a "fearful scenario" of a world war between Russia and its allies on the one hand, and the United States and its NATO allies in Europe. 

Against this backdrop of international conflict, David noted the volatile geopolitical situation between the Philippines and its neighboring countries. 

The Philippines is locked in a territorial dispute with China, the world's second largest economy and an ally of Russia. China, with its so-called nine-dash line, claims almost the entire South China Sea while overstepping the respective exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines and Vietnam. 

"We are conscious of the fact that, in just the past few years, the peace and security of some of our own national territories have been among our major domestic concerns, especially in the West Philippine Sea, where an ally of Russia has already set up its own military installations, despite all our protestations," David added. 

Amid mounting international sanctions on Moscow, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said the country remains neutral, describing Russian President Vladimir Putin as his friend.

Earlier, Duterte called Putin "suicidal" for invading Ukraine.

Responding to the request of Ukrainian Catholic Bishops, Pope Francis announced that he will consecrate both Ukraine and Russia to Mary during a penitential prayer service at Saint Peter's Basilica. The date chosen coincides with the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord. 

The consecration of Russia to Mary is part of the fabled prophecy in Fatima, Portugal, where the Blessed Mother appeared before three shepherd children in 1917. 

It is said that during the course of Mary's apparitions, she warned of war, famine, and persecution of the Church. 

Sister Lucia, who died in 2005 and was one of the three shepherd children, recounted that Mary told them: "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."

While some critics claim that Mary's request has not been fulfilled, the Vatican insisted that it has been done several times by previous popes. The last was through John Paul II who led the consecration of Russia and the world in 1984. 

On Wednesday, Pope Francis held a teleconference meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, who has defended President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. 

The Vatican said Pope Francis told the patriarch: "The ones who pay the price of war are the people, the Russian soldiers and the people who are bombarded and die."

The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk welcomed the pope's decision. 

"This is a spiritual act long awaited by the people of Ukraine. Since the beginning of Russian aggression in 2014, Ukrainian Catholics have been urgently requesting this Act to prevent the worsening of the war and the dangers coming from Russia," Shevchuk said.

Meanwhile, the CBCP's Permanent Council announced also announced that there will be a special second collection to be held in all churches on Sunday, March 20, as an act of solidarity with the "suffering people of Ukraine." 

Aside from Filipino bishops, other prelates from other countries also announced that they will join the pope in consecrating Russia and Ukraine to Mary, including bishops from Latin America. 

RELATED VIDEO:

Watch more News on iWantTFC