FATIMA, Portugal (CNS) — Entrusting Pope Francis’ pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima, Cardinal Jose da Cruz Policarpo of Lisbon, Portugal, asked Mary to give the pope courage and strength, particularly as he moves to renew and reform the Catholic Church.
“Give him the gift of discernment to know how to identify the ways of renewal of the church; give him the courage not to hesitate to follow the ways suggested by the Holy Spirit; support him in the hard hours of suffering to overcome with the charity the trials that the renewal of the church will bring,” the cardinal prayed May 13, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima.
“We consecrate to you, Our Lady, mother of the church, the ministry of the new pope,” he prayed. “Fill his heart with the tenderness of God that you experienced so that he can embrace all the men and women of our age with the love of your son Jesus Christ.”
Cardinal Policarpo recited the prayer, which he wrote himself, at the end of a Mass concluding a major international pilgrimage to Fatima for the feast day marking the 96th anniversary of the apparition of Mary to three children.
The Portuguese cardinal, who participated in the conclave that elected Pope Francis, said the new pope had asked him twice to consecrate his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima. He also asked Mary to give Pope Francis “the desire to be a pilgrim to this shrine.”
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.