Dear Father | Our Lady of Fatima and consecration of Russia is a complicated story

Q:
Our Lady of Fatima asked the Holy Father to consecrate Russia to her
Immaculate Heart for there to be peace. Some say this has not been done
yet, while others argue it has. What is really going on?

On May 13, 1917, three young children received an apparition of Our Lady near Fatima, Portugal. She urged the children to pray the Rosary for an end to World War I, for sinners, and for the conversion of Russia, which had begun to slip into a revolution, leading to the rise of a communist government there. For six months, Mary visited these children on the 13th of each month, eventually entrusting them with three secrets and a request to the Holy Father: to consecrate Russia in union with the bishops of the world to her Immaculate Heart. Such a consecration, she assured, would convert Russia and usher in an era of peace for the world.

On Oct. 31, 1942, Pope Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and 10 years later would specifically mention a consecration of Russia in his letter "Sacro Vergente Anno." Notably, neither of these consecrations involved the action of the bishops with him in consecrating Russia to the Immaculate Heart. During the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI renewed the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart in the presence of the Council Fathers, but without their participation.

After the assassination attempt on his life in 1981, Pope John Paul II tried to fulfill the conditions for the consecration on May 13, 1982. Unfortunately, many of the world's bishops did not receive the invitation in time to join the Pope in the consecration. John Paul II renewed the consecration the next year, and in 1984 asked all the world's bishops, including the Orthodox bishops, to join him in consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart. During this ceremony, John Paul II paused during the consecration, according to the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, to quietly add Russia specifically to the consecration. Presumably the pope did this due to the tense political situation, making it imprudent to single Russia out. Within five years of this act, the Berlin Wall would fall.

Those who argue that the request for the consecration has not been satisfied point to the fact that Russia has never been formerly named in any consecration in union with the world's bishops. Also, they look to the situation in Russia and in the world and wonder if this is truly the era of peace promised by Our Lady.

Those who argue that the request has been fulfilled point to Sister Lucia, the only surviving seer of Fatima at the time of John Paul II, and her assurance that the consecration had been accepted by Our Lady in 1984. Also, when the third secret of Fatima was revealed in 2000, there seemed to be a judgment from the Vatican implicit in the document that Our Lady's request had been fulfilled as well.

The mind of the popes since 1984 seems to be that the request of Our Lady has been fulfilled. For this consecration to be effective, we must act on the graces flowing from it. Through fulfilling the other conditions of Fatima -- prayer, receiving the sacraments, and making reparation for sin -- we will help our Lord and our Lady fashion a world where peace will reign.

Father Mayo is associate pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in St. Charles.

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