By JAMES LIKOUDIS
How many Catholic bishops of the United States joined Pope John Paul II in the Collegial Consecration of the World and Russia on March 25, 1984?
That is a question that some have often asked, but no study of the matter has appeared. As is known, letters went out from Pope John Paul II to the bishops of the world, including the U.S. bishops, asking that they join with him in a Collegial Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as requested by Our Lady of Fatima.
Pope Pius XII, Pope Paul VI, and Pope John Paul II had consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart on various occasions, but this did not fulfill the wishes of our Lady for a collegial consecration, as expressed to the visionary Sr. Lucia on June 13, 1929. “The moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father, in union with all the bishops of the world, to make the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means. There are so many souls whom the Justice of God condemns for sins committed against me, that I have come to ask reparation: Sacrifice yourself for this intention and pray.”
That Pope John Paul II did fulfill our Lady’s wishes on Sunday, March 25, 1984, in St. Peter’s Square, has been confirmed by Sr. Lucia, eminent cardinals, successive bishops of Fatima, and knowledgeable priests who were specialists on the Fatima apparitions and had contact with the Pope and Sr. Lucia. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and his Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith may be said to have reinforced definitively the truth of the Collegial Consecration having been done.
The congregation released on June 26, 2000, the full text of the First, Second, and Third Parts of the “Secret of Fatima.” Therein it was noted that “Sr. Lucia personally confirmed that this solemn and universal act of consecration corresponded to what our Lady wished: ‘Yes it has been done just as our Lady asked, on March 25, 1984.’ Hence any further discussion or request [to the Holy Father that it be done] is without basis.”
Nevertheless, polemics denying that the Collegial Consecration had occurred have been a sorry feature of contemporary American Catholicism. This has been combined with sometimes fierce denunciation of the Popes for not “obeying our Lady.” Various “traditionalist” bloggers and writers do not hesitate to allege that Pope Francis, moreover, has only added to the disorders in the Church by failing (like, they say, his Predecessors) to fulfill the obligation to pronounce the Collegial Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Such charges have added to the confusion of the faithful, a weakening of love for the Pope as visible head of the Church, and lethargy in living the message of Fatima. There has been a consequent neglect of prayer for the conversion of sinners, and a decline in needed prayer for the restoration of Russian Orthodoxy to the unity of the Church built on Peter.
During various meetings of the U.S. bishops’ conference in Washington, D.C., lay observers had the pleasure of listening to various comments by Bishop Stanislaus Brzana (1917-1997) of Ogdensburg, N.Y. What particularly impressed them was that he was one of the few bishops who could be heard speaking out forthrightly concerning deficiencies in the catechetical instruction of children and youth.
In an article in North County Catholic (August 19, 1992), Bishop Brzana dealt with questions concerning Pope John Paul II’s Collegial Consecration made in 1984. He wrote: “Many people from inside the diocese and from outside have written to me to urge the Holy Father, together with the bishops of the world, to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I take this opportunity to acknowledge those letters and to respond.” He went on to declare:
“After inviting the Catholic and Orthodox bishops of the world to join him in their respective dioceses, on Mary 25, 1984, Pope John Paul II entrusted and consecrated the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This took place at St. Peter’s Square, before the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, brought to Rome from the Chapel of Apparitions (Capelinha). While this consecration does not explicitly mention Russia, it is clear that Russia is especially included. Furthermore, the consecration refers to the 1952 explicit consecration of Russia by Pope Pius XII.
“On the same day, Sunday, March 25, 1984, Solemnity of the Annunciation,I joined the Holy Father and pronounced the same words of entrustment and consecration of the whole Diocese of Ogdensburg at St. Mary’s Church, Brushton. This was done prior to the ceremony of Confirmation which had been previously scheduled. I also invited the pastors of the diocese to do the same in their churches in behalf of their parishes.
“Some people object that at this 1984 consecration by Pope John Paul II not all the bishops of the world joined him. Concerning this, Dom Alberto Cosme do Amaral, the bishop of Leiria-Fatima, at a meeting of a Marian Congress in Altotting, Germany, September 16-17, 1989, made the following statement: ‘Actually, a numerical and mathematical totality of the bishops was not required, as Lucia herself one day explained to me; but there was, certainly, a moral totality’.”
How many U.S. bishops specifically joined in the Collegial Consecration of March 25, 1984, to express their devotion to the Mother of the Church and to give witness to the Marian character of the one true Church concerned with the salvation of souls, remains an interesting question. The answer might well be helpful in determining the zeal and spiritual health of the American episcopacy and Church in the troubled 1980s. Perhaps interested readers might care to inquire of the bishop of their diocese as to whether their diocese participated in one of the most important ecclesial events of the 20th century.
Therein the Church may be said to have acknowledged the truth of the Queen of Heaven’s prophecy that “in the end,” there will occur the complete conversion of Russia signifying “the triumph” of her Immaculate Heart. The Catholic Church pursues the path of ecumenism. In prayer and expectation she awaits that conversion of Russia, a nation whose people have been especially devoted to the Mother of God.
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(A new book by James Likoudis dealing with Russian converts to the Catholic Church Heralds of a Catholic Russia: From Byzantium to Rome — Twelve Spiritual Pilgrims is in preparation. For his three books dealing with Eastern Orthodoxy, see www.jameslikoudispage.com.)