March 20, 2022
Yesterday morning, in answer to Pope Francis’ call for a united Prayer of Consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Catholic bishops and faithful gathered throughout the world. Simultaneously with the Holy Father’s 5pm service at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, we gathered locally at 10 am in the Sacred Heart Cathedral, in parishes and homes throughout the diocese, to pray with the Pope and the Universal Church.
This Act of Consecration is a conscious recognition of the singular role of Mary in the mystery of Christ. As Jesus hung on the cross, he entrusted his mother Mary to John as his mother, and John to Mary as her son. In a similar way, the Pope has now entrusted the countries of Russia and Ukraine to the care, patronage, and intercession of Mary. This is in the same sense in which children are entrusted by God to their mothers as gifts, for their protection and her maternal, loving care. In the order of grace, Mary is a true mother to each and every one of her children as entrusted to her by God.
"This Act of Consecration is a conscious recognition of the singular role of Mary in the mystery of Christ ."
Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, welcomed Pope Francis’ call as Russia’s invasion grinds on leaving many dead. “This is a spiritual Act (of consecration) 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.”
Archbishop Paolo Pezzi, the head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Moscow, responded also in gratitude: “It is a dark period. . . . We need lights, at least small flames. The consecration is an invitation to light this flame of hope that has never been extinguished in our hearts. The Pope can freely and forcefully address the whole Church and ask, in particular, that these flames of hope be rekindled in the peoples of Russia and Ukraine.”
"It is a dark period...We need lights, at least small flames."
Let us never relinquish the power of prayer. The people of Ukraine are giving their lives for their freedom: outnumbered, bombed, starving and displaced. The cruel evil which directs this tragedy from Russia is an ancient power, the Enemy arisen in force. The situation appears to be hopeless. Let our prayers rise to heaven.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The Lord is the refuge of my life; of whom should I be afraid?
"Let us never relinquish the power of prayer."
We pray first that Ukraine be protected, defended, and supported. For in addressing only the causes of this tragedy and its trend of escalating violence without prayer, there is no hope. We call upon God, and we find hope.
We pray for the conversion of Russia and Ukraine, and for all those torn apart by violence in all parts of the world. We pray for all God’s children of all countries, cultures, and ethnicities. We pray that God send mighty angels, that evil be confronted, that children may live and goodness spring forth. We pray that peace be granted in our world.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Most Reverend Stephen J. Berg
Bishop of Pueblo