Two Popes With Two Different Plans

Last Friday, Pope Francis offered the consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Millions of Catholics across the globe joined the pontiff in prayer as the Church celebrated the feast of the Annunciation.

The consecration comes to us through the vision of Our Lady of Fatima when Mary appeared to three shepherd children at Fatima in Portugal in 1917 with a message encouraging prayer and repentance. She was also asked for the consecration of Russia by the pope and all the bishops of the world.

“Mother of God and our mother, to your Immaculate Heart we solemnly entrust and consecrate ourselves, the Church and all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine,” the Pope said on March 25, pronouncing the Act of Consecration at St. Peter’s Basilica.

It was one of the strongest messages Pope Francis has made since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

The Pope has been actively trying to de-escalate the situation through diplomatic channels and by reaching out to Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as making an unprecedented visit to the Russian embassy in Rome.

He is walking a fine line in trying to condemn the war without singling out anyone and trying to promote peace. He has even gone as far as saying that the concept of a “just war” is no longer attainable.

“Once upon a time there was also talk in our churches of a ‘holy war’ or ‘just war,’ ” Pope Francis said. “Today we cannot speak like this. Christian awareness of the importance of peace has developed.”

Pope Francis’ passive approach to the invasion is in contrast to St. John Paul II’s reaction to Communism and the freedom efforts of the Polish people through the Solidarity movement.

“Solidarity is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far,” Pope John Paul wrote at the time. “On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual because we are all really responsible for all.”

Instead of playing peacemaker, St. John Paul II joined with other political activists in providing a vocal opposition.

His active messaging emphasized the values of freedom and liberty while calling out Communism’s suppression of such ideas. This provided moral support to the opposition movement in Poland.

A landmark moment was the Pope’s 1979 visit. Saint John Paul II believed that by visiting Poland, he could rouse the spirits of his Polish compatriots in opposition to the Communist regime.

Despite a prediction by the communist regime that only dozens of Poles would show up for the papal visit, millions came to greet him, embarrassing the Polish government.

Time will tell us which tact will work best in this situation.