Indian bishops join Consecration of Ukraine and Russia
By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis chose March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, a Friday during the Lenten season this year, to use the powerful weapon of prayer to plead for peace in the world, responding to the call of the Virgin Mary in her apparition at Fatima on July 13, 2017.
In his homily at the Lenten penitential service, the Holy Father reflected on humanity’s need for God’s forgiveness and on the meaning of the Consecration. “This is no magic formula but a spiritual act,” the Pope said. “It is an act of complete trust on the part of children who, amid the tribulation of this cruel and senseless war that threatens our world, turn to their Mother.”
He lamented that “the vicious war that has overtaken so many people, and caused suffering to all, has made each of us fearful and anxious.” “We need to be told, 'Do not be afraid’. We need the closeness of God and the certainty of His forgiveness, which alone eliminates evil, disarms resentment and restores peace to our hearts,” the Pope said, inviting all “to return to God and to His forgiveness.”
In India, the Catholic Bishops of the north-east responded to the appeal of Pope Francis for prayer for peace and the consecration of Russia and Ukraine to Mary. “We need peace. We are pained by the suffering of people in both these countries,” Archbishop John Moolachira of Guwahati said at a penitential service. “The leaders of these two countries need our prayers that they may have the gift of wisdom and courage to take steps towards peace.” The Pope’s prayer of Consecration was translated by the archdiocese into many indigenous languages so many people could participate. The archbishop, who is President of the North East India Regional Bishops Council, said that many parishes arranged the Way of the Cross followed by Holy Mass and the Act of Consecration.
Elsewhere in northeastA India, Bishop Albert Hemrom of Dibrugarh also led the Act of Consecration. “We need peace now more than ever.” “The world is just on the way to recovery after two long years of trying times caused by the pandemic. War is the last thing that humanity needs now,” said the bishop who is chairman for North East Social Communication (NESCOM).
Several of the region’s bishops had gathered for the NESCOM annual general body meeting in Addressing the meeting, Archbishop Emeritus Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati highlighted that the war in Ukraine is having repercussions across the globe “because we are all connected to each other”. We are one big family. We cannot and should not fight”, said veteran peacemaker who has lobbied for peace in the region for nearly 4 decades.
In Tripura state, Bishop Lumen Monteiro of Agartala led his people in Eucharistic Adoration prior to the Act of Consecration. “I join Pope Francis to consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Prayer has won wars. While the benefits of our prayers may not be as tangible as dollars spent on food or medicine, we trust their effects are even more important,” he said.
Bishop George Pallipparambil of Miao diocese in Arunachal Pradesh state invited all the faithful to join in the Consecration prayer that included Eucharistic Adoration and Holy Mass. “When all our human efforts fail, God takes control. We pray with the Holy Father for peace in both these countries and in the rest of the world,” the Salesian bishop said.
Similar initiatives were held in the dioceses of the other dioceses of India.
In Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay presided over a service for the Consecration of Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the Holy Name Cathedral.
In his homily, the cardinal who is president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) pointed out that at the root of conflicts, big or small, lie the selfishness and the lack of reconciliation in individuals, communities, religions and nations.
As people in Ukraine are going through distress, fear, hopelessness, despair and confusion, he said, “we turn to Mary our Mother and intercessor, who takes us to Jesus, the Prince of peace”. And as disciples of Jesus, we are called to be peace lovers, peace promoters, peacemakers and peacebuilders. We build peace when basing ourselves on the Gospel values of love, selflessness and forgiveness, we become instruments that take away division, prejudices and anger. And this peace, which is not merely the absence of war, begins at home, in the family.
He stressed that the day’s feast of the Annunciation is really the Incarnation of God, which is the “most world-changing event in history” because God became man and transformed everything, our sense of values, our life, hope and liberation from sin.
The service included scripture readings, a moment of silent reflection, prayers, the Act of Consecration and concluded with the Eucharistic Adoration and blessing.