Yesterday, March 1st, a day when Eastern Catholics had already begun fasting for Lent, His Beatitude, Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church (successor to the great and holy confessors and Servants of God, Andrey Sheptytsky and Josyf Slipyj) joined with the Holy Father in exhorting all Catholics to fast and pray today for peace in Ukraine. Fearlessly preaching the Gospel of His Majesty, Jesus Christ, His Beatitude followed his holy predecessors in calling for his flock to love their enemies – the invading Russians. Yet he prayed for the Ukrainian soldiers, celebrating the recent repelling from Berdyansk of the attackers in this “crooked and unjust war.”
We saw the destruction of schools, kindergartens, cinemas, museums, and at sunrise near Kyiv, a rocket struck the maternity ward of a hospital. We ask ourselves ‘Why?’ Women and unborn children. Why are they the innocent victims of this war? But we are praying. We are standing. Together, we are a nation that builds and defends peace in Ukraine and throughout the world with the price of our own blood.
Our Catholic brethren in Ukraine, led by such men of God as His Beatitude and occupying this historic Catholic See of Kyivan Rus, have indeed paid for peace with their blood, in imitation of Our Lord and God and Savior, for they themselves have suffered for centuries to live and die in communion with the Holy See of Ancient Rome. This holy suffering for peace and unity with the Mystical Body of Christ found greater glory in the twentieth century, when untold hundreds and thousands of eastern rite faithful chose death in communion with Rome over joining the Pseudo-Orthodox Soviet Church (like the Chinese Communists have today in their false “Patriotic Church”).
These untold faithful won the crown of victory for peace, even while untold hundreds and thousands of Eastern Orthodox – our separated brethren – also shed their blood valiantly against the wicked Soviet Regime. The “Holy New Martyrs of Russia” are already canonized among the Orthodox, putting us to shame in their devotion to their saints:
(Thankfully Robert Royal has begun to remedy this shameful lack of Catholic devotion to our 20th century saints!).
Now President Putin, whom the Russian Catholic calls a “ruthless, Communist, bloody, dictator,” has invaded the Ukraine, turning the eyes of the world away from the Canadian Uprising (which had been rapidly spreading worldwide) to an area of the world far away from the “North Atlantic.”
But thank God that His Beatitude’s message of peace is already being done today! In the face of nationalistic fervor and fratricidal bloodshed, the good Patriarch said “Love your enemies.”
A Russian soldier surrendered. Ukrainians gave him tea, food, and let him call his mother on video. I want to cry from how much I love my country. pic.twitter.com/ZiERQsyBbo
— Anastasiia Lapatina (@lapatina_) March 2, 2022
The Consecration Controversy
Since the beginning of the war many Traditionalists have begun to call again for the Consecration of Russia as commanded by Our Lady of Fatima in 1917 when the imminent Soviet Revolution was quickly threatening the Russian people and the world. Among other notable names, this assertion about the Consecration has been spread in the Anglophone world by the late Fr. Nicholas Gruner of the Fatima Center (rest in peace).
This is in contrast to the Holy See, which has maintained since 2000 that the Consecration of 1984 fulfilled Fatima.
A few days before His Beatitude’s message on Latin “Fat Tuesday” yesterday, Fatima scholar Mr. Kevin Symonds spoke to Michael Lofton on Reason and Theology and criticized the view that the consecration of Russia did not take place as requested by Our Lady. He cited Sr. Lucia’s own words in her book Como vejo a mensagem, stating the requested consecration was done on March 25, 1984. Symonds stated that John Paul II had briefly remained silent in the 1984 Consecration, mentioning Russia “in his heart.” Moreover, again citing Sr. Lucia’s words, Symonds stressed that she saw the 1984 Consecration as averting a nuclear war, and thus the “time of peace” as prophesied was begun when Soviet Communism fell in Russia.
At the time of this writing, I have not seen any other Fatima scholars give comment about this controversy.
The Conversion of Russia
Patriarch Sviatoslav ended his message yesterday with this urgent appeal:
I sincerely ask you: let us pray not only for peace in Ukraine, but let us pray for our enemies, for their conversion, for the conversion of Russia as Our Lady of Fatima requested of us.
Meanwhile, on Monday the National Catholic Register had already published a commentary in which Msgr. Stuart Swetland wrote “If our commitment [in the United States] to defend our NATO allies and defer further aggression is to be credible, serious consideration should be given to reinstituting the draft.”
Now on Ash Wednesday, the day the Holy Father appealed to Catholics for prayer and fasting, the Media Center of the Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops in Ukraine has published a short appeal of “the Episcopal Conference of Ukraine” to the Holy Father. As translated by LifeSite and reported by Mr. Michael Haynes, the Bishops wrote to Pope Francis:
Holy Father! In these hours of immeasurable pain and terrible ordeal for our people, we, the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Ukraine, are spokesmen for the unceasing and heartfelt prayer, supported by our priests and consecrated persons, which comes to us from all Christian people that Your Holiness will consecrate our Motherland and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Responding to this prayer, we humbly ask Your Holiness to publicly perform the act of consecration to the Sacred Immaculate Heart of Mary of Ukraine and Russia, as requested by the Blessed Virgin in Fatima.
May the Mother of God, Queen of Peace, accept our prayer: Regina pacis, ora pro nobis!
This important appeal is seen as vindication by many Traditionalists who advocate the view of Fr. Gruner on the Consecration. It seems to indicate that the Ukrainian Bishops agree with this thesis.
I once heard of Catholic brother who believed in the 1984 Consecration suggest a compromise: why not Consecrate Russia anyway? Won’t it bring good either way? This thought led me to say, a few days before this Ash Wednesday news, that we apply Pascal’s wager to the debate for the sake of the Russian and Ukrainian people:
The Consecration of Russia is a win-win.
If the Trads are right, Russia will be converted and there will be peace.
If the Trads are wrong, innumerable graces are merited for Russia and her people…for their conversion and peace.
Bl. Leonid Feodorov, pray for us!
However, the diplomacy of international geopolitics will likely lead any such abstract logic to make the Holy See think twice and thrice about such an action, just as Ven. Pius XII hesitated during a much worse war than this one.
One thing everyone can agree on, devotion to the icon of Our Lady of Fatima (written by an Orthodox iconographer) must be spread far and wide in this time:
We also ask for donations for the Russian Catholics in St. Petersburg for the shrine of this icon:
One of the best ways to bring peace (and conversion of Russia) is to donate to the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in St. Petersburg, Russia.
This will help the Russian Catholics and spread Fatima to separated brethren in Russia and the East!
— OnePeterFive (@OnePeterFive) February 25, 2022
Finally, OnePeterFive contributing editor Charles Coulombe appeals to Catholics and Orthodox to beseech their respective holy Emperors on behalf of peace:
If you are Catholic or Orthodox, pray to your respective Emperor-Saint for the restoration of peace. Better than any leader now living, they understood the terrible cost of war in blood, and saw their subjects and themselves pay for it. They are the best intercessors for peace. pic.twitter.com/3P7KSwJejI
— Charles A. Coulombe (@RCCoulombe) February 24, 2022
We remember that Our Lady came at Fatima at a time when Liberalism was nearly complete in destroying the last vestiges of the lay order in Christendom, in the person of Bl. Karl of Austria. With this it seems fitting (although the circumstances are more than tragic!) to announce that months ago, the editorial board at OnePeterFive chose three patrons for our online journal: Our Lady of Fatima, Bl. Karl, and another which we will announce in due time. This year we will promote the icon of Our Lady of Fatima and devotion to our holy Emperor in particular, begging God to send peace to Ukraine and Russia, and conversion to all hearts in this terror of war.
We pray for the souls of those who died in battle, those men, women and children now dead who were innocent victims, and the innumerable widows and orphans created by this new conflict.
May all Christians – Catholic and Orthodox – fast and pray this Lent for peace and conversion of evil men to Christ Our Lord and King.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
Bl. Karl of Austria, pray for us!
T. S. Flanders
Feria Quarta Cinerum
 Irmã Maria Lúcia de Jesus e do Coração Imaculado, Como vejo a mensagem, 2nd ed. (Fatima, Portugal: Secretariado dos Pastorinhos, 2007), 53-59. For more sources on this question, see the Mazza/Sungenis debate and Mr. Symonds’ response on Reason and Theology.
 Patr. Sviatoslav, op. cit.
Timothy Flanders is the editor of OnePeterFive. He is the author of City of God versus City of Man: The Battles of the Church from Antiquity to the Present and Introduction to the Holy Bible for Traditional Catholics. His writings have appeared at OnePeterFive and Crisis, as well as in Catholic Family News. In 2019 he founded The Meaning of Catholic, a lay apostolate dedicated to uniting Catholics against the enemies of Holy Church. He holds a degree in classical languages from Grand Valley State University and has done graduate work with the Catholic University of Ukraine. He lives in Michigan with his wife and five children.