Samarkand (Agenzia Fides) - "What the whole Church will experience together with Pope Francis on March 25 is a historic moment: the Marian consecration of Ukraine and Russia means entrusting these countries to Our Lady so that she may take care for these peoples in a special way. I always love to remember, especially in this period, the words spoken by Mary in Fatima, namely that her heart will win. The heart is the place of love and that is what is lacking in this time of war. I am sure that love will triumph". This is the message released to Fides by Fr. Ariel Alvarez Toncovich, priest of the Institute of the Incarnate Word and parish priest of the church of St. John the Baptist in the Uzbek city of Samarkand.
The parish priest announces that the community of the Uzbek faithful will join with devotion and intense prayer the special act of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary that Pope Francis will celebrate tomorrow, March 25, in St. Peter's Basilica. "As a priest in a country that is part of the former Soviet Union and where Catholics are a minority, I feel part of this promise of Our Lady and I thank God that I am here. We are here to work and to ensure that in our humble way and with the few people that God puts in our way, the love of Jesus and Mary can triumph", he emphasizes. Many believers seem disoriented in the face of the events in Ukraine. In this regard, the priest remarked: "You often ask me: why does God allow all this? My answer is that this does not come from God, but is caused by man: it is mankind that makes war. Can God do anything? He can bring people by His grace to draw nearer to Him through their suffering. It is difficult to see any material benefit that will come from all this destruction, but there is certainly a spiritual benefit, that good which only God Himself knows how to bring forth even from evil".
"Our task is to pray and to unite ourselves with this great proposal of Pope Francis". "We unite with his intentions on a day that is special for us priests of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, because the Annunciation of the Lord is also the feast of our Congregation", concludes Father Ariel. In addition to the Catholic community in Samarkand, there are four other communities in Uzbekistan with about 3,000 baptized candidates: there are about 700 Catholics in the capital Tashkent, others in Bukhara, Urgench and Fergana. Today 25 believers live in Angren, where the construction of a new church is planned. 90% of the 30 million inhabitants of Uzbekistan are Muslims. About 3.5% are Russian Orthodox Christians, another 3% are small Christian communities of other denominations, including Catholics. (LF-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 24/3/2022)