My dear people of St. Mary’s:
On Mother’s Day weekend, I preached to you a homily on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. Pope Francis recently asked the bishops of Portugal to consecrate his pontificate to Our Lady under that title. On May 13, 2013, the 96th anniversary of our Blessed Mother’s first apparition, Cardinal Jose da Cruz Policarpo of Lisbon, Portugal, did just that at a solemn Mass celebrated at the Marian shrine in Fatima.
Cardinal Policarpo recited the prayer, which he wrote himself, at the end of a Mass concluding a major international pilgrimage to Fatima:
Thus we consecrate to you, Lady, who are Mother of the Church, the ministry of the new Pope. Fill his heart with the tenderness of God, which you felt like no one else, so that he will be able to embrace all the men and women of this time with the love of your Son Jesus Christ. Contemporary humanity needs to feel that it is loved by God and by the Church. Only by feeling loved will it overcome the temptation to violence, materialism, forgetfulness of God, the loss of its way. And it will be led by you to a new world where love will reign.
Give him the gift of discernment, to be able to identify the paths for the renewal of the Church. Give him the courage not to hesitate in following the paths suggested by the Holy Spirit. Shelter him in the harsh hours of suffering, to overcome in charity the trials that the renewal of the Church will bring. Be always by his side, saying with him those words you know well: “I am the Handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me according to Thy word.” The paths of the renewal of the Church lead us to discover the timeliness of the message that you gave the little shepherds: the exigency of conversion to God who has been offended, because He is so forgotten. Conversion is always a return to the love of God. God forgives because He loves us. This is why His love is called mercy. The Church, protected by your maternal solicitude and guided by this shepherd, must assert herself increasingly as the place of conversion and forgiveness, because in her, truth is always expressed in charity.
You indicated prayer as the decisive path of conversion. Teach the Church of which you are a member and model, so that we will be increasingly a people at prayer, in communion with the Holy Father, the first of this people who prays, and also in silent communion with the previous Pope, His Holiness Benedict XVI, who chose the path of the silent man of prayer, taking the Church more profoundly into the paths of prayer.
In your message to the little shepherds, here in Cova de Iria, you highlighted the Pope’s ministry, “the man dressed in white.” Three of the last Popes were pilgrims to your shrine. Only you, Lady, in your maternal love for the whole Church, can put in Pope Francis’ heart the desire to be a pilgrim to this shrine. It is not something we can ask him for other reasons. Only the silent collaboration between you and him will attract him to this pilgrimage, in the certainty that he will be supported by millions of believers, willing to hear your message again.
Here at this altar of the world, he will be able to bless humanity, to make today’s world feel that God loves all men and women of our time, that the Church loves them and that you, Mother of the Redeemer, lead them with tenderness on the paths of salvation.
But Pope Francis was not the only object of a special consecration during the mid-May pilgrimage; at a Mass May 12 at the Fatima shrine, Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro entrusted to Mary all the young people who are preparing to attend World Youth Day in Rio with Pope Francis in July.