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The 5th Marian Dogma: Mary Coredemptrix

Friday, January 14, 2005
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One of the biggest issues that I tackled during and even after my conversion was the role of Mary in my life and in the life of all the world. It was only after years of prayer and study and more prayer that I have been able to realize her unique role in mankind's salvation (always leading to her Divine Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ). With great respect, honor, prayer, devotion, obediance and humilitily I beg the Holy Father to formally declair the 5th Marian Dogma that being her unique role as Co-Redemtrix, Mediatrix and Advocate of all of humantity. I have posted below several document which address the proposed dogma of the Church. I have also provided a link to VOX POPULI MARIAE MEDIATRICI so that you can obtain further information and even sign the petition to the Holy Father. Please take some time and pray the Holy Rosary and visit the above website which is linked and read the documents availible. Please pray for the Holy Father and his intentions and please remember my daughter and I and those in our lives in your prayers too (thanks!!). May Christ richly bless you and those in your life and may Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, keep you beneath her protective mantle of love and grace. Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us who have recourse to thee. amen.
(Because of the size of this posting please click the read more link to view the entire posting.)
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The Proposed Marian Dogma:
The "What" and the "Why"


Msgr. Arthur B. Calkins

Msgr. Calkins is an official of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” in Rome, a contributing member of the Pontifical International Marian Academy, and a corresponding member of the Pontifical Theological Academy.

I. The Mystery of Iniquity

In simple, yet poetic and profound language the third chapter of the Book of Genesis narrates the story of the fall of man. Three creatures play the major roles in this momentous drama: the serpent, the woman and the man. The serpent beguiles. The woman who was given to the man as his helpmate lets herself be beguiled and the man follows suit. The story seems deceptively simple, but it has monumental implications. The man, Adam, is the progenitor and head of the human family. The woman, Eve, is his companion. As partners they are equal, but they have different roles. He is the head of his wife and the head of the human family. "The whole human race is in Adam 'as one body of one man'. By this 'unity of the human race' all men are implicated in Adam's sin."
At the same time it must be noted that the role of the woman given to the man as his helpmate was far from negligible. Let us note how it is described by the Venerable Cardinal John Henry Newman:

Eve had a definite, essential position in the First Covenant. The fate of the human race lay with Adam; he it was who represented us. It was in Adam that we fell; though Eve had fallen, still, if Adam had stood, we should not have lost those supernatural privileges which were bestowed upon him as our first father. ...but further, as she thus had her own general relation to the human race, so again had she her own special place as regards its trial and its fall in Adam. In those primeval events, Eve had an integral share. ... She co-operated, not as an irresponsible instrument, but intimately and personally in the sin; she brought it about. As the history stands, she was a sine-qua-non, a positive, active, cause of it. And she had her share in its punishment; in the sentence pronounced on her, she was recognised as a real agent in the temptation and its issue, and she suffered accordingly.

God metes out punishment first to the serpent (Gen. 3:14-15), then to the woman (Gen. 3:16) and finally to the man (Gen.3:17-19). What is particularly striking, however, is that already the sentence passed upon the serpent heralds the reversal of the fall. The Lord says: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; she shall crush your head, while you lie in wait for her heel" (Gen. 3:15). This text has become famous as the Protoevangelium ("first gospel") and the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains why:

The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the "New Adam" who because he "became obedient unto death, even death on a cross", makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience of Adam. Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the "Protoevangelium" as Mary, the mother of Christ, the "new Eve". In fact, the Church's magisterium (teaching authority) has grown ever more convinced of the soundness of this insight of the Fathers and Doctors over the centuries and has come to see the Protoevangelium as a revelation of the indissoluble bond between Jesus and Mary in the work of our salvation. The Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium provides explicit corroboration of such an association by stating that Mary "is inseparably linked to her Son's saving work" [indissolubili nexu cum Filii sui opere salutary coniungitur] (#103). This follows logically from a principle of capital importance enunciated by the Venerable Pope Pius IX in his Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December 1854, namely that "God, by one and the same decree, had established the origin of Mary and the Incarnation of Divine Wisdom".

II. The Mystery of Mediation

An attentive study of God's revelation to us in both the old dispensation and the new discloses that God chooses to deal with his people through certain persons whom he designates to act as his representatives to them and as their representatives before him. This may be truly described as the "mystery of mediation". After the sin of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:6) the first exercises of mediation which we hear about are the offerings of Abel and Cain (Gen. 4:3-5). These offerings comprised an act of worship or sacrifice to God.
What is a sacrifice? Sacrifice, which constitutes the supreme act of external and public worship, may be defined as the offering and immolation to God of something sensible (fruits, liquids, animals) in order to recognize his absolute lordship and in order to atone for sin. Sacrifice, consequently, has two aspects: one material and sensible because it is an external and public act; the other internal and spiritual because in order to have an effective moral value it must be motivated by a spiritual and intimate content. The offering especially of something living such as fruits and, even more, animals and then the consequent immolation or destruction of these offerings is the counterbalance to the creative act of God. As God has given life to all things, man symbolically restores life back to him. Particularly in the immolation to God of a victim such as a lamb, a goat, a calf or a bull through the mediation of a priest, man expresses his total dependence and dedication to God. The ultimate end of the sacrifice is the mystical union of man with his God. In those early days of the human race, even before the establishment of the priesthood of Aaron, Cain and Abel acted as mediators before God.
While we are not explicitly informed about why the sacrifice of Cain was not acceptable, we may well assume that it had to do with the lack of a proper spiritual disposition on his part. From Cain's slaying of his brother Abel (Gen. 4:8), the sin of our first parents has been subsequently multiplied billions of times over by the personal sins of all their descendants.
Consequently the Old Testament shows us numerous instances in which a representative is designated by God himself to intercede on behalf of his people in order that his wrath, stirred up on account of their sins, might be turned away from them and that his people may receive instead his blessings.
The priests, prophets and kings of the Old Testament, each according to his particular office, all shared in this role of mediation. In varied circumstances and with an ever clearer manifestation of God's plan these chosen mediators reveal to us both (1) the divine dispensation of mediation which God established in order to show mercy to his people and (2) at the same time the provisional role of this mediation.
While it was clear that God required an acceptable reparation in order to restore man to his friendship, it also became clear that no mere man could ever definitively "breach the chasm" which sin had caused between God and his creatures. As the inspired author of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us:

Since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices which are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered? If the worshipers had once been cleansed, they would no longer have any consciousness of sin. But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year. For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins (Heb. 10:1-4).

Sin, an offense against the infinite God, in effect required a reparation which man, left to his own devices, remained incapable of making. No mere human creature could really succeed in mediating between God and his people except in incomplete and partial ways which could, at best, foreshadow the full, complete and definitive mediation which was needed.

III. Jesus the Perfect Mediator

At the very heart of the mystery of our redemption is the fact that Jesus Christ is the "one mediator between God and men ... who gave himself as a ransom for all" (I Tim. 2:5-6). Why is Jesus the unique and perfect mediator? This affirmation from the new Catechism provides us with the fundamental elements needed to formulate a response:

No man, not even the holiest, was ever able to take on himself the sins of all men and offer himself as a sacrifice for all. The existence in Christ of the divine person of the Son, who at once surpasses and embraces all human persons, and constitutes himself as the Head of all mankind, makes possible his redemptive sacrifice for all.

One with God in his divinity, Jesus is at the same time one with man in his humanity. In his divine person he unites the two natures of the two parties who had become separated by man's sin: he represents God to man and man to God. As the Word who is one with the Father from all eternity, the Son is not a mediator, but he becomes one from the moment he begins to take flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the inspired author of the Letter to the Hebrews would come to grasp that, even though he was not sprung from the priestly tribe of Levi and never referred to himself explicitly as a priest, Jesus was the perfect high priest who succeeded in bridging the gap between God and his people in a way that no other priest ever could (cf. Heb. 4:14-10:18). He did so by offering the sacrifice of himself on the cross.

IV. Collaboration in Jesus' Mediation

Now while there can be no dispute that Jesus is the priest and victim of that sacrifice by which we are saved and that he alone by virtue of his death and resurrection (the paschal mystery) is the Redeemer of the world, the Catholic Church also holds that

because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, "the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery" is offered to all men. ... In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries. This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering.

Here is the careful resume of the Church's teaching on this matter which Pope John Paul II gave in a general audience address of 9 April 1997.

Down the centuries the Church has reflected on Mary's cooperation in the work of salvation, deepening the analysis of her association with Christ's redemptive sacrifice. St. Augustine already gave the Blessed Virgin the title "cooperator" in the Redemption (cf. De Sancta Virginitate, 6; PL 40, 399), a title which emphasizes Mary's joint but subordinate action with Christ the Redeemer. Reflection has developed along these lines, particularly since the 15th century. Some feared there might be a desire to put Mary on the same level as Christ. Actually the Church's teaching makes a clear distinction between the Mother and the Son in the work of salvation, explaining the Blessed Virgin's subordination, as cooperator, to the one Redeemer. Moreover, when the Apostle Paul says: "For we are God's fellow workers" (1 Cor. 3:9), he maintains the real possibility for man to cooperate with God. The collaboration of believers, which obviously excludes any equality with him, is expressed in the proclamation of the Gospel and in their personal contribution to its taking root in human hearts. However, applied to Mary, the term "cooperator" acquires a specific meaning. The collaboration of Christians in salvation takes place after the Calvary event, whose fruits they endeavour to spread by prayer and sacrifice. Mary, instead, cooperated during the event itself and in the role of mother; thus her cooperation embraces the whole of Christ's saving work. She alone was associated in this way with the redemptive sacrifice that merited the salvation of all mankind. In union with Christ and in submission to him, she collaborated in obtaining the grace of salvation for all humanity.

Both of these texts carefully point out that (1) it is possible for creatures to be "associated with Jesus' redeeming sacrifice" or to be "cooperators in the work of salvation" (2) that Mary was associated or cooperated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of Jesus' redemptive suffering. Pope John Paul II makes two further and very important points: (1) Mary's cooperation differs from ours because it took place "during the Calvary event itself" and (2) her totally unique collaboration in the work of our salvation is "subordinate" to that of Christ and "in submission to him".
Now it must be candidly acknowledged that the Catholic Church's teaching on man's cooperation in the work of salvation became a rock of stumbling for Martin Luther (1483-1546) and subsequently for practically all of the ecclesial bodies that derive from the Protestant reformation. The Catholic Church, however, is convinced that this teaching is rooted in the New Testament and has consistently asserted it, most solemnly at the Council of Trent, more recently in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Saint Augustine (354-430) may be taken as a major exponent of this doctrine. He said: "He who made you without your cooperation will not save you without it." In the course of 1998 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity found it necessary to uphold this teaching in responding to the Joint Declaration of the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation on the Doctrine of Justification. The response asserted that:

The Catholic Church maintains, moreover, that the good works of the justified are always the fruit of grace. But at the same time, and without in any way diminishing the totally divine initiative, they are also the fruit of man, justified and interiorly transformed. We can therefore say that eternal life is, at one and the same time, grace and the reward given by God for good works and merits.

This is a principle of fundamental importance in Catholic theology as well as in the spiritual life.


V. Mary's Collaboration in Jesus' Mediation

With wonderful perspicacity the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught that "Mary, having entered intimately into the history of salvation, somehow unites in her person and re-echoes the most fundamental doctrines of the faith." Hence we should not be surprised that these same Fathers recognized Mary as the perfect model of human collaboration with God's grace "in subordination to Christ and with him in the service of the mystery of redemption". They pointed out that the "union of the Mother with the Son in the work of salvation is apparent from the time of Christ's virginal conception up to his death" and they further specified that

The Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully maintained her union with her Son even to the cross where she stood in conformity with the divine plan. There she endured with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering and united herself to his sacrifice in her motherly heart, lovingly consenting to the immolation of the victim born of her.

Let it be well noted that, according to the consistent teaching of the Church, Mary's collaboration in the work of the redemption spans the entire earthly life of the God-man from the Annunciation to Calvary, but that it reaches its summit on Golgotha where Mary is involved in two simultaneous offerings: the offering of her Son and the offering of herself. This has been repeatedly taught by all of the Pontiffs of the twentieth century. Here is a classic expression of the first offering by the Servant of God Pius XII in his Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis of 29 June 1943 to which the above text of Lumen Gentium makes explicit reference:

She [Mary] it was who, immune from all sin, personal or inherited, and ever most closely united with her Son, offered Him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father together with the holocaust of her maternal rights and motherly love, like a new Eve, for all the children of Adam contaminated through this unhappy fall ...

In his Apostolic Exhortation Signum Magnum of 13 May 1967 the Servant of God Pope Paul VI emphasized the second offering by emphasizing Our Lady's

charity, strong and constant in the fulfillment of her mission to the point of sacrificing herself, in full communion of sentiments with her Son who immolated Himself on the Cross to give men a new life.

Both of these offerings are magnificently summarized in Pope Benedict XV's Letter Inter Sodalicia of 22 March 1918 which has become justly famous:

According to the common teaching of the Doctors it was God's design that the Blessed Virgin Mary, apparently absent from the public life of Jesus, should assist Him when He was dying nailed to the Cross. Mary suffered and, as it were, nearly died with her suffering Son; for the salvation of mankind she renounced her mother's rights and, as far as it depended on her, offered her Son to placate divine justice; so we may well say that she with Christ redeemed mankind.

Benedict speaks clearly here of our redemption as a joint effort. This, of course, takes nothing away from the fact that Jesus' merits were all-sufficient for our redemption or that Mary, as a human creature, could never equal her divine Son. Rather he recognizes that Mary's presence on Calvary was "according to God's design", that it was willed by God as flowing from the indissoluble bond between Jesus and Mary in the work of our salvation which was already pointed to in the Protoevangelium.


VI. Mary Coredemptrix

The fact that Mary together with Christ redeemed the human race quite naturally led the faithful who continued to meditate on this fact to coin the word Coredemptrix in order to describe her role. The first use of this word of which we are presently aware dates from the fourteenth or fifteenth century. The term Coredemptrix usually requires some initial explanation in the English language because often the prefix "co" immediately conjures up visions of complete equality. For instance a co-signer of a check or a co-owner of a house is considered a co-equal with the other signer or owner. Thus the first fear of many is that describing Our Lady as Coredemptrix puts her on the same level as her Divine Son and implies that she is "Redeemer" in the same way that he is, thus reducing Jesus "to being half of a team of redeemers". In the Latin language from which the term Coredemptrix comes, however, the meaning is always that Mary's cooperation or collaboration in the redemption is secondary, subordinate, dependent on that of Christ -- and yet for all that -- something that God "freely wished to accept ... as constituting an unneeded, but yet wonderfully pleasing part of that one great price" paid by His Son for world's redemption. As Dr. Mark Miravalle points out:

The prefix "co" does not mean equal, but comes from the Latin word, "cum" which means "with". The title of Coredemptrix applied to the Mother of Jesus never places Mary on a level of equality with Jesus Christ, the divine Lord of all, in the saving process of humanity's redemption. Rather, it denotes Mary's singular and unique sharing with her Son in the saving work of redemption for the human family. The Mother of Jesus participates in the redemptive work of her Saviour Son, who alone could reconcile humanity with the Father in his glorious divinity and humanity.

From theological usage the word has passed into the vocabulary of the magisterium. It was first used in official documents issued by Roman Congregations at the beginning of the century and subsequently by Pope Pius XI in allocutions to pilgrims and in a radio message on 28 April 1935 for the closing of the Holy Year at Lourdes. Although the doctrine of Mary's unique collaboration in our redemption was clearly taught by the Second Vatican Council as we have seen, the word Coredemptrix was not used out of "ecumenical sensitivity". What is even more significant, however, is that after a period of artificial suppression Pope John Paul II has used the word "Coredemptrix" or "coredemptive" at least six times to describe Mary's intimate cooperation in the work of our Redemption.
Now I would like to highlight what I believe to be the most significant instance of Pope John Paul's teaching on Mary Coredemptrix. It comes from a homily which he gave at the Marian shrine of Nuestra Senora de la Alborada [Our Lady of the Dawn] in Guayaquil, Ecuador on 31 January 1985. On that occasion he said:

Mary goes before us and accompanies us. The silent journey that begins with her Immaculate Conception and passes through the "yes" of Nazareth, which makes her the Mother of God, finds on Calvary a particularly important moment. There also, accepting and assisting at the sacrifice of her son, Mary is the dawn of Redemption; ... Crucified spiritually with her crucified son (cf. Gal. 2:20), she contemplated with heroic love the death of her God, she "lovingly consented to the immolation of this Victim which she herself had brought forth" (Lumen Gentium, 58). ... In fact, at Calvary she united herself with the sacrifice of her Son that led to the foundation of the Church; her maternal heart shared to the very depths the will of Christ "to gather into one all the dispersed children of God" (Jn. 11:52). Having suffered for the Church, Mary deserved to become the Mother of all the disciples of her Son, the Mother of their unity. ... The Gospels do not tell us of an appearance of the risen Christ to Mary. Nevertheless, as she was in a special way close to the Cross of her Son, she also had to have a privileged experience of his Resurrection. In fact, Mary's role as Coredemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son.

This excerpt of the Holy Father's homily constitutes a magnificent catechesis on the various ways in which Mary collaborated in the work of our redemption. Let us note how carefully the Pope develops this theme.

1. First he underscores that Mary's cooperation with God's plan for our salvation actually began with Mary's Immaculate Conception. He created her full of grace precisely in view of the role which he had predestined for her. This gift of being totally transformed by grace from the first moment of her existence in her mother's womb was so that her cooperation with God's designs would be unimpeded by the pull of the flesh.

2. Next he points out that her collaboration becomes deliberate and explicit in her response to the angel: "Let it be done to me according to your word" (Lk. 1:38). As Father Richard Foley, S.J. puts it: "Our Lady's consent to God's initiative was the indispensable condition for his redemptive plan to go into operation."

3. Then the Pope delineates Mary's interior dispositions on Calvary. He describes her as "accepting and assisting at the sacrifice of her son" and cites here the important text of the Second Vatican Council about how Mary "lovingly consented to the immolation of this Victim which she herself had brought forth" (Lumen Gentium, 58).

4. Integral to her offering of Jesus as victim to the Father is her offering of herself in union with him. The Holy Father stresses that Mary "united herself with the sacrifice of her Son that led to the foundation of the Church". Thus he underscores the fact that, though secondary and subordinate to Jesus' all-sufficient sacrifice, Mary's sacrifice cannot be separated from that of her son.

5. Precisely because Mary is a co-offerer of the sacrifice of Calvary, John Paul II describes her as "crucified spiritually with her crucified son". This may at first seem to be a shocking assertion, even an exaggeration until the Pope provides us with his point of reference, Saint Paul's bold declaration to the Galatians: "I have been crucified with Christ" (2:20). If the Apostle of the Gentiles can say this of himself and invite us to be imitators of him (cf. I Cor. 4:16; Phil. 3:17), how much more can this be attributed to Mary, the "New Eve," she who is Jesus' most intimate associate in the work of the redemption?


VII. Mary Mediatrix of All Graces

According to the consistent teaching of the papal magisterium during the past hundred years it is precisely from Mary's role as Coredemptrix that her function in the distribution of graces proceeds. Here is how Pope Leo XIII described this in his Encyclical Letter Adiutricem Populi of 5 September 1895:

It is impossible to measure the power and scope of her [Mary's] offices since the day she was taken up to that height of heavenly glory in the company of her Son, to which the dignity and luster of her merits entitle her. From her heavenly abode, she began, by God's decree, to watch over the Church, to assist and befriend us as our Mother; so that she who was so intimately associated with the mystery of human salvation is just as closely associated with the distribution of the graces which from all time will flow from the Redemption.

In this text Pope Leo XIII highlights Mary's role as Mediatrix of all graces. As in the case of our understanding of Mary's coredemptive role, we must always recognize Mary's mediation as secondary and subordinate to and dependent upon that of Christ himself. Indeed, in Lumen Gentium #60 the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council emphasized that:

Mary's function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin's salutary influence on men originates not in any inner necessity but in the disposition of God. It flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it.

Yet at the same time it must also be asserted that, precisely by the disposition of God, no other human being collaborated as intimately in the Redemption of mankind as Mary did. As the Pope put in his general audience address of 9 April 1997, which has already been cited above, Mary's

co-operation embraces the whole of Christ's saving work. She alone was associated in this way with the redemptive sacrifice that merited the salvation of all mankind. In union with Christ and in submission to him, she collaborated in obtaining the grace of salvation for all humanity.

To put it simply: because Mary is the Coredemptrix, she is also the Mediatrix of all graces.
Another very important principle should be noted in the text cited above: it speaks of Mary's union with Jesus in redeeming mankind. This is not to say that Jesus is not all-sufficient as Redeemer or that Mary can ever be thought of as his equal, but rather that by God's will she was indissolubly united with him in the work of redemption and is consequently inseparably united with him in dispensing the fruits of the redemption. This has been the consistent teaching of the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Let us listen to how beautifully Pope St. Pius X elucidates this doctrine in his Encyclical Letter Ad Diem Illum of 2 February 1904:

It is because of this community of pain and will between Mary and Christ that "she merited to become in a most worthy manner the Reparatrix of the lost world and, therefore, the Dispenser of the totality of gifts which Jesus by his death and blood has acquired for us. Now surely we do not deny that the distribution of these gifts belongs by strict right to Christ personally, after all they have been acquired for us by His death alone, and He is in His own right the Mediator between God and men. And yet, out of regard for that community of pain and suffering between Mother and Son already mentioned, the august Virgin was privileged to be "the most powerful Mediatrix and advocate of the whole world, with her Divine Son".

The mystery of Mary's indissoluble union with Jesus in the work of our redemption is already prophetically proclaimed in Genesis 3:15 and described in the Gospels of Luke and John. Further, chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation shows us how Mary's maternal relationship with Jesus is extended to "the rest of her offspring" (Rev. 12:17). Indeed, there is no other divine-human union to compare with this unique relationship between Jesus and Mary which exists precisely "for us men and for our salvation". Because of the uniqueness of this bond Father Stefano Manelli could make this striking claim about Mary's mediation:

The fundamental difference between the maternal Mediation of Mary and every other participated mediation on the part of other creatures, heavenly and earthly, consists in the fact that while all other mediations are limited in time and space, the Mediation of Mary instead extends to all creation, heavenly and earthly, and touches all ages, until the final end of creation.

Father Manelli's statement is striking because it underscores the extension of Mary's mediation, but not because it departs from the teaching of the Church. In fact he is only echoing the Servant of God Pope Pius XII who declared on 13 May 1946 in his radio message to Fatima that the Son of God gave His heavenly Mother a share in His glory, His majesty, His kingship; because, associated as Mother and Minister to the King of martyrs in the ineffable work of man's Redemption, she is likewise associated with Him forever, with power so to speak infinite, in the distribution of the graces which flow from Redemption.


VIII. Mary Advocate

In the wonderfully rich homily which our Holy Father gave in Guayaquil, Ecuador on 31 January 1985 and which we have cited above he said that "Mary's role as Coredemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son" and then he went on to explain that

The Church believes that the Most Holy Virgin, assumed into heaven, is near Christ, forever living to make intercession for us (cf. Heb. 7:25), and that to her Son's Divine mediation there is joined the incessant supplication of his Mother on behalf of men, her sons and daughters. Mary is the dawn, and the dawn unfailingly announces the arrival of the sun. Therefore I recommend to all of you, brothers and sisters of Ecuador, that you honour with profound love and have recourse to the Mother of Christ and the Church the "all-powerful suppliant" (omnipotentia supplex), that she will bring us ever closer to Christ, her Son and our Mediator.

There are at least two salient points to be drawn from this doctrinally rich statement. The first is that Mary participates in the priestly intercession of the glorified Christ who is now seated at the right hand of the Father where he ceaselessly intercedes for us. In union with Jesus she, too, is our Advocate. The second is a further precision of Mary's intercessory role: she is omnipotentia supplex, an almost untranslatable phrase which indicates that she is at the same time both a suppliant as well as all-powerful. The Pope has used this paradoxical expression to describe Our Lady's intercession on a number of occasions. Perhaps one of the best explanations of this terminology comes from Saint Alphonsus Maria De Liguori:

Since the Mother, then, should have the same power as the Son, Jesus, who is omnipotent, has also made Mary omnipotent; though, of course, it is always true that, while Jesus is omnipotent by nature, Mary is omnipotent only by grace. But that she is so appears from the fact that, whatever the Mother asks for, the Son never denies her. ... Mary, then, is called omnipotent in the sense in which such a term can be applied to a creature who is incapable of a divine attribute; that is, she is omnipotent because she obtains by her prayers whatever she wishes.

As Mary is Coredemptrix and Mediatrix of all Graces, she is also our most perfect human Advocate before the Blessed Trinity. This title has profound roots in the Catholic tradition going all the way back to Saint Irenaeus in the second century. It occurs in the Hail, Holy Queen where we pray: "turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us." The word Advocate is predicated of Mary literally hundreds of times in the papal magisterium and reference to her intercession is a constantly recurring theme. Indeed, the great Marian document of the Second Vatican Council readily recognized that Mary is rightly invoked as Advocate.
Linking together the titles Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate enables us to grasp Mary's role in our salvation in a logical and coherent way: it is precisely because of Our Lady's unique and intimate participation in the work of the redemption (as Coredemptrix) that she is able to be the distributor (Mediatrix) of all graces and the great intercessor (Advocate) for her children after Jesus himself (cf. Heb. 7:25; 1 Jn. 2:1) and the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn. 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). Indeed, each of these terms brings out another facet of how Mary shares in an unparalleled way in the unique priestly mediation of Jesus: she participates in the work of our redemption; she distributes the graces of the redemption; she lives to make intercession for us.

These three themes are beautifully interwoven in the conclusion of Miserentissimus Redemptor, Pius XI's great Encyclical Letter on reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

May the most gracious Mother of God, who gave us Jesus as Redeemer, who reared Him, and at the foot of the Cross offered Him as Victim, who by her mysterious union with Christ and by her matchless grace rightly merits the name Reparatrix, deign to smile upon Our wishes and Our undertakings. Trusting in her intercession with Christ our Lord, who though sole Mediator between God and man (I Tim. 2:5), wished however to make His Mother the advocate for sinners and the dispenser and mediatrix of His grace, from the bottom of Our heart as a token of heavenly favor and of Our fatherly solicitude We heartily impart to you and to all the faithful entrusted to your care Our Apostolic Benediction.


IX. Some Questions

This essay has been written to show the internal logic and coherence of proposing a solemn papal definition of Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate. I have chosen to do so largely on the grounds of the teachings of recent popes. It is entirely possible to make a case for a definition in terms of the scriptural evidence or of the indications given in the Church's liturgical life or on the basis of the testimony of saints and theologians. A number of such studies have been done and continue to be produced in various languages.
I have chosen to present this little introduction to the question primarily on the basis of the teaching authority of the modern popes precisely because they reflect and synthesize the belief of the Church in a way that is readily comprehensible to the faithful and which does not require an extensive background in scriptural studies, the history of theology, the lives of the saints, etc. Further, this approach manifests that the content of the proposed definition is already a part of the ordinary (as opposed to extraordinary) magisterium of the Church. The titles are not novelties, but have been consistently used by the popes of the last century and a half to describe Mary's unique role in the lives of the faithful. I had to choose citations carefully in order to represent the hundreds more which space would not allow me to present and which would have weighed this short study down unduly. The point is that those who want to contest what I have presented above are not arguing with me or my theories but with the Successor of Peter carrying out his official teaching office.


1. Why the title Coredemptrix?

My first response is "Why not"? It is true that the word can be misleading to those who don't know its etymology, i.e., that "with" does not mean "equal to". But the use of this term by the popes as well as the consistent doctrine of the Church make it abundantly clear that there is no intention to make Mary an equal Redeemer with Jesus. On the other hand, what titles would better indicate the altogether unique position occupied by Mary in the economy of grace? Cooperator, collaborator, co-worker, co-sufferer, participant? But these terms could and should be used of us all. They don't indicate the uniqueness of Mary's role. The great English convert and spiritual writer, Father Frederick William Faber, argued in favor of the anglicized form of the word, "co-redemptress", already in 1857 in his classic work The Foot of the Cross:

In fact, there is no other single word in which the truth could be expressed; and, far off from His sole and sufficient redemption as Mary's cooperation lies, her cooperation stands alone and aloof from all the cooperation of the elect of God. ... But neither the Immaculate Conception nor the Assumption will give us a higher idea of Mary's exaltation that this title of co-redemptress, when we have theologically ascertained its significance.

2. Why propose a papal definition?

It has been noted that there are already four dogmas about Mary. They are that she is (1) the Mother of God (Theotokos); (2) ever-virgin; that she was (3) immaculately conceived and (4) assumed body and soul into heaven. All of these truths of the faith pertain to the person of Mary, but thus far the Church has not yet proposed to the faithful in the most solemn manner the truth about Mary's role in their lives.
But why should this be done when so many other matters in the Church appear to be much more important and much more urgent? There is, indeed, indisputable evidence that there is now at least a large part of two generations of Catholics who do not know their faith or take it very seriously. This didn't happen by accident. There are many who, with good intentions or not, seized the moment toward the end of the Second Vatican Council to commandeer Catholic catechesis and education and have contributed mightily to the chaos which has ensued. They have not been simply unseated by the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church nor will any simply legislative act be capable of doing this.
The moral turpitude and permissiveness of the world in which we live daily becomes more apparent and more appalling -- and it seeps into the Church. Contraception, abortion, the breakup of families, blatant pornography in the media, the attempted justification of homosexuality, militant feminism, the confusion of the roles of man and woman, the promotion of a society without values -- all of these plague the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church. Popes Paul VI and John Paul II have not hesitated to stand up to these myriad errors with courage, providing clear guidelines and admonishing the faithful to be converted and follow the way of the Gospel. Thirty years after Humanae Vitae the prophetic wisdom of Paul VI is far more apparent than it was in 1968, but has the tide changed?
In many places careless, insensitive and imprudent innovations have been introduced into the Church's worship. A new form of iconoclasm has caused the wanton destruction of many Catholic sanctuaries. Further, there is a notable tendency at work on various levels to shift the orientation of the liturgy from being God-centered to being more man-centered. The language of the "holy sacrifice of the Mass" is slowly disappearing from our vocabulary. Even more, there is an attempt on the part of some highly placed strategists to de-construct the present Roman liturgy and render it less recognizable. All of this has led to massive disorientation on the part of priests, religious and laity, resulting in many defections and apostasy. Can we reasonably expect that more directives on the right application of the Church's liturgical norms will dramatically alter the present situation?
Now, of course, I do not wish to minimize the many hopeful signs on the horizon or the often heroic work being done on many levels to re-establish Catholic practice in faith, morals and worship where this is needed. But I am convinced that a papal definition of Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate for the People of God could have incalculable positive effects, both direct and indirect, in all of these areas that will come in no other way. This is because Mary, present in the Church as the Mother of the Redeemer, takes part, as a mother, in that "monumental struggle against the powers of darkness" which continues throughout human history.
She is not only the "Woman" of the Protoevangelium (Gen. 3.15), but also the triumphant "Woman" of the Apocalypse (Rev. 12). The more that the Church recognizes her role in our salvation, proclaims it and celebrates it, the more Satan will be vanquished and the more Jesus will reign. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council already gave voice to this intuition when they stated in Lumen Gentium #65 that

when she [Mary] is being preached and venerated, she summons the faithful to her Son and His sacrifice, and to love for the Father. Seeking after the glory of Christ, the Church becomes more like her exalted model, and continually progresses in faith, hope, and charity, searching out and doing the will of God in all things.

3. Wouldn't a definition cause ecumenical problems?

This is an objection which has been consistently seized upon by those who oppose a definition. My question back to them is "Why should a more explicit proclamation of the truth cause problems?" The Church found it necessary to reassert the impossibility of the ordination of women even though it recognized that there would be repercussions in those ecclesial bodies which have women ministers. As we have seen above, in 1998 it was compelled to uphold the Church's unbroken tradition on man's collaboration in the work of his redemption.
We must be perfectly clear on this fundamental principle of Catholic ecumenism enunciated by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council:

It is, of course, essential that doctrine be clearly presented in its entirety. Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false conciliatory approach which harms the purity of Catholic doctrine and obscures its assured genuine meaning. At the same time, Catholic belief needs to be explained more profoundly and precisely, in ways and in terminology which our separated brethren too can really understand. Furthermore, Catholic theologians engaged in ecumenical dialogue, while standing fast by the teaching of the Church and searching together with separated brethren into the divine mysteries, should act with love for truth, with charity, and with humility.

These same Fathers were aware that among them [separated Churches and Ecclesial Bodies in the West] views are held considerably different from the doctrine of the Catholic Church even concerning Christ, God's Word made flesh, and the work of redemption, and thus concerning the mystery and ministry of the Church and the role of Mary in the work of salvation.
They obviously didn't think that Mary's role should be passed over in silence in ecumenical dialogue. In fact, they concluded the master document of the Council, Lumen Gentium, with these words:

Let the entire body of the faithful pour forth persevering prayer to the Mother of God and Mother of men. Let them implore that she who aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers may now, exalted as she is in heaven above all the saints and angels, intercede with her Son in the fellowship of all the saints. May she do so until all the peoples of the human family, whether they are honored with the name of Christian or whether they still do not know their Savior, are happily gathered together in peace and harmony into the one People of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity.

++++++
Maternal Mediation, John Paul II, and Vatican II; A Response to a Statement of an International Theological Commission*

By Dr. Mark Miravalle


On 4 June 1997, a statement of a Theological Commission of the Pontifical International Marian Academy was published in L’Osservatore Romano. This commission was “asked by the Holy See to study the possibility and the opportuneness of a definition of the Marian titles of Mediatrix, Coredemptrix and Advocate.” The commission was composed of fifteen Catholic theologians and additional non-Catholic theologians, including an Anglican, a Lutheran and three Orthodox theologians.
Although I wish to express my appreciation for the furthering of the theological dialogue regarding the solemn definition of the Maternal Mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as provided by this statement of the international theological commission, I must at the same time state that there are several theological elements foundational to this question that appear to be missing from the considerations and conclusions of the commission. I will summarize only the more critical theological elements absent from the statement and conclusions of the commission, theological elements which are contained in the work of another international association of theologians and mariologists who have contributed to the two theological volumes dedicated to the question of the Maternal Mediation of Mary: Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations, Towards A Papal Definition?, and Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations II, Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical (Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara, CA). The internationally respected theologians who participated in this serious theological study pertinent to the question of the solemn definition of the Maternal Mediation of Mary span several continents, many countries, and three communities of Christianity.

1. The Title, “Coredemptrix” and the Papal Teachings of Pope John Paul II

A primary caution seems to be against the specific use of the title “Coredemptrix” in discussing the unique cooperation of the Blessed Virgin Mary with and under Jesus Christ in the Redemption of humanity. It must be strongly underscored that our present Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has used the explicit title “Coredemptrix” on at least five occasions in Papal Teachings during his present pontificate.1 This is well illustrated in the 1985 Papal Address of Pope John Paul II in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where both the title “Coredemptrix” is used and an explanation of the role is given:

“Mary goes before us and accompanies us. The silent journey that begins with her Immaculate Conception and passes through the ‘yes’ of Nazareth, which makes her the Mother of God, finds on Calvary a particularly important moment. There also, accepting and assisting at the sacrifice of her son, Mary is the dawn of Redemption;...Crucified spiritually with her crucified son (cf. Gal. 2:20), she contemplated with heroic love the death of her God, she “lovingly consented to the immolation of this Victim which she herself had brought forth” (Lumen Gentium, 58)...
In fact, at Calvary she united herself with the sacrifice of her Son that led to the foundation of the Church; her maternal heart shared to the very depths the will of Christ ‘to gather into one all the dispersed children of God’ (Jn. 11:52). Having suffered for the Church, Mary deserved to become the Mother of all the disciples of her Son, the Mother of their unity....In fact, Mary's role as Coredemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son”2

More recently, in his general audience address of 9 April 1997 (at present the Holy Father has given a series of over 50 Marian catecheses), the Holy Father uses the example of St. Paul’s call for all Christians to be “God’s fellow workers” (1 Cor. 3:9), or in some translations “co-workers,” and also specifies Mary’s unique co-operation in the work of redemption (without inferring any equality between Christians, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the unique act of redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ alone):

“Moreover, when the Apostle Paul says: “For we are God’s fellow workers” (1 Cor 3:9), he maintains the real possibility for man to co-operate with God. The collaboration of believers, which obviously excludes any equality with him, is expressed in the proclamation of the Gospel and in their personal contribution to its taking root in human hearts.
However, applied to Mary, the term ‘co-operator’ acquires a specific meaning. The collaboration of Christians in salvation takes place after the Calvary event, whose fruits they endeavor to spread by prayer and sacrifice. Mary, instead, co-operated during the event itself and in the role of mother; thus her co-operation embraces the whole of Christ’s saving work. She alone was associated in this way with the redemptive sacrifice that merited the salvation of all mankind. In union with the Christ and in submission to him, she collaborated in obtaining the grace of salvation for all humanity.”3

In all instances of papal usage of the term, “Coredemptrix,” the prefix “co” does not mean equal, to, but, comes from the Latin word, “cum” which means “with.” The title of “Coredemptrix” applied to the Mother of Jesus never places Mary on a level of equality with Jesus Christ, the divine Lord of all, in the saving process of humanity's redemption. Rather, it denotes Mary's singular and unique sharing with her Son in the saving work of redemption for the human family. The Mother of Jesus participates in the redemptive work of her Savior Son, who alone could reconcile humanity with the Father in his glorious divinity and humanity.4
Hence the title and role of Mary as Coredemptrix reveals Mary’s unique participation, her “co-working” and “co-operating” with and under Jesus Christ the sole Redeemer of humanity, while at the same time calling all Christians to cooperate in the saving work of redemption (cf. Col. 1:24). The teaching of our Holy Father that “the collaboration of believers...obviously excludes any equality with him...” corrects the somewhat misleading statement made in a commentary to the statement of the theological commission that the title “Coredemptrix” or the doctrine of Marian coredemption inappropriately “names” Mary as a mere creature to be “on the level with the Word of God in his particular redemptive function.” Moreover, Lumen Gentium, n. 62 clarifies the rightful participation of creatures in the one mediation of Jesus Christ without the confusion of being inappropriately perceived as being on “the level with the Word of God”:

“No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source” (Lumen Gentium, n. 62).

No claim is made here that the documents of the present Holy Father, where he employs the title “Coredemptrix,” are the most definitive of his pontificate, as has been alluded to by commentators of the commission. At the same time, it would constitute an even greater error to unjustifiably claim that the Papal Teachings of John Paul II and the explicit usage of the title “Coredemptrix” have no theological importance and significance. They are clear, repeated, indications of how the Holy Father understands and would define what makes the Virgin Mother’s cooperation in the work of redemption under the Cross singular and non-repeatable by any other believer. To say that her cooperation is singular is not to say it is equal to Christ’s work. And to specifically designate this unique participation of Mary, the “New Eve,” with and under Jesus Christ, the “New Adam,” as “Marian Coredemption,” so as to define the singularity of that cooperation, hardly seems imprecise and ambiguous—anymore than it would be imprecise or ambiguous to the divine primacy of Jesus Christ to define the singular cooperation of the Blessed Virgin in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ as Mother of God.
The further objection that “the titles as proposed are ambiguous” must be seen, again, in light of the rich Papal Magisterial Teaching of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Not only was the term “Coredemptrix” used under the pontificates of Pius X and Pius XI along with its contemporary usage by the present Holy Father, but the subsequent terms “Mediatrix” and “Advocate” have an even greater frequency of usage and teaching by the nineteenth and twentieth century Papal Magisterium.5 Not only are the terms “Mediatrix” and “Advocate” contained in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council (cf. Lumen Gentium, n.62), but they are developed in great measure in the 1987 Papal Encyclical, Redemptoris Mater (Mother of the Redeemer), with the entire third section entitled and dedicated to the Church doctrine of “Maternal Mediation.”6 Perhaps the “ambiguity” mentioned by the theological commission came from a lack of full understanding that the object of the petition is a solemn definition of the Maternal Mediation of Mary under its three essential aspects of Coredemptrix (“the Mother Suffering”), Mediatrix (“the Mother Nourishing”), and Advocate (“the Mother Interceding”), and not a request for a “triple dogma” or “three non-homogeneous terms” as members of the commission have previously stated. The roles of a mother, as heart of the family, are multiformed; the truth of her motherhood is singular. The same holds true for the “Mother of the Church” (cf. Second Vatican Council, Nov. 21, 1964).

2. The Solemn Definition of Maternal Mediation and the Second Vatican Council

It must also be remembered that the Second Vatican Council was by its own self-definition not a “dogmatic council” but a “pastoral council,” and as such may not have been the most appropriate setting for a dogmatic definition. And yet, the Council Fathers made it clear that they did not intend to present a “complete doctrine on Mary” and encouraged future mariological doctrinal development: “This sacred synod...does not, however, intend to give a complete doctrine on Mary, nor does it wish to decide those questions which the work of theologians has not yet fully clarified” (Lumen Gentium, n. 52). Church history and precedence teaches us that the decision of a given ecumenical council not to make a solemn definition does not preclude a solemn definition coming in an ex cathedra fashion in the future. For example, a petition for the solemn definition of the Assumption of Mary was raised and rejected at Vatican Council I, but this did not prevent the later solemn definition of the Assumption by Pius XII in an ex cathedra expression. There are no grounds for concluding that because Vatican II abstained from using the title “Coredemptrix, that therefore the Council intended the Church to abandon the use of this title forever. The mariological doctrine, language, and usage of the title by Pope John Paul II clearly make any such conclusion impossible.
For this and for many other reasons, therefore, the rich mariological doctrinal development on the subject of Mary’s Maternal Mediation provided by the Papal Teachings of John Paul II as a fruitful development of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council offered for the benefit of the People of God simply cannot be ignored. We must be aware of any mode of theological stagnancy that would reject authentic mariological doctrinal development as manifested by the present Pontiff in his Papal Magisterium, both in expressions of encyclicals, apostolic letters, and general papal addresses and teachings.

3. The Solemn Definition of Maternal Mediation and Ecumenism

Regarding sensitivity to “ecumenical difficulties” expressed by the theological commission, let us again return to the clear teaching of Pope John Paul II, a contemporary prophet for the critical call of Ecumenism in his recent encyclical on Ecumenism, Ut Unum Sint. Within this papal instruction on the ecclesial mandate for authentic ecumenical activity, John Paul II specifies that in our efforts of authentic Catholic Ecumenism, the whole body of doctrine as taught by the Church must be presented; full communion in the one body of Christ can only take place through the acceptance of the whole truth as taught by the Church, and that the “demands of revealed truth” does not prevent ecumenical activity, but rather provides the necessary foundation for ultimate union. Ut Unum Sint states:

“With regard to the study of areas of disagreement, the Council requires that the whole body of doctrine be clearly presented...Full communion of course will have to come about through the acceptance of the whole truth into which the Holy Spirit guides Christ’s disciples. Hence all forms of reductionism or facile “agreement” must be absolutely avoided7....unity willed by God can be attained only by the adherence of all to the content of revealed faith in its entirety. In matters of faith, compromise is in contradiction with God who is Truth. In the Body of Christ, ‘the way, and the truth, and the life’ (Jn 14:6), who could consider legitimate a reconciliation brought about at the expense of the truth?8....To uphold a vision of unity which takes account of all the demands of revealed truth does not mean to put a brake on the ecumenical movement.9 On the contrary, it means preventing it from settling for apparent solutions which would lead to no firm and solid results. The obligation to respect the truth is absolute. Is this not the law of the Gospel?”10

In that same document on Ecumenism, the Holy Father defends the exercise of the charism of papal infallibility as a “witness to the truth” which in fact serves as a value and foundation for ultimate Christian unity:

“When circumstances require it, [the Pope] speaks in the name of all the Pastors in communion with him. He can also—under very specific conditions clearly laid down by the First Vatican Council—declare ex cathedra that a certain doctrine belongs to the deposit of faith (First Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastor Aeternus: DS 3074). By thus bearing witness to the truth, he serves unity.”11

Solemn definitions of Marian dogmas, and in specific the solemn definition of Maternal Mediation, does not run counter to the Church’s critical mandate of ecumenical activity; rather such definitions can serve this unity for the sake of doctrinal perfection and clarity, as we find in the words of John Cardinal O’Connor of New York: “Clearly, a formal definition would be articulated in such precise terminology that other Christians would lose their anxiety that we do not distinguish adequately between Mary’s unique association with the redemption and the redemptive power exercised by Christ alone.”12
At the same time we should not be surprised when Christian brothers and sisters from other communions who do not accept the office and charism of the papacy are not in favor of the exercise of the very office which they themselves do not accept as authentic. Therefore to require convincing support from other Christians and ecclesial bodies as a requisite condition for the exercise of papal infallibility would, practically speaking, effectively eliminate this charism given by the Holy Spirit and Christ to the Church for the sake of doctrinal clarity and perfection.
The Blessed Virgin Mary must be seen not as the obstacle, but as the instrument and Mother of the ecumenical movement (cf. Redemptoris Mater, n. 30), remembering that no one unites the children of a family more than the mother of that family. Let us confidently leave such decisions of timeliness and opportuneness to the present Vicar of Christ, Pope John Paul II, who is at the same time both fully Marian and fully ecumenical.

4. Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici

The international Catholic organization, Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici (Voice of the People for Mary Mediatrix), is a principal movement amidst others petitioning our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, to solemnly definition the Maternal Mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This international Catholic organization carries with it the episcopal endorsements of over 500 bishops, inclusive of 42 Cardinals and 4.5 million petitions from the faithful spanning over 155 countries, all united in the requesting of the solemn definition of Our Lady’s Maternal Mediation. Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici works in complete obedience and solidarity to the Papal Magisterium of Pope John Paul II in exercising the canonical right and duty encoded in Canon 212, §2,3:

“The Christian faithful are free to make known their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires to the pastors of the Church”; “In accord with the knowledge, competence and preeminence which they possess, they have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard for the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons.”

In the proper letter and spirit of this Canon, Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici continues to do all possible on the level of prayer, theological research, Marian catechesis and education of the faithful to assist in bringing to proper theological and ecclesial maturity the cause of the solemn definition of the Maternal Mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In light of the objection of the commission that the mariological doctrine in question still needs “further study” and “theological maturity,” let us recall from our recent past Church precedence that such maturity can come about in a rather brief span of time, based on the given minds and hearts, both authoritative and theological, dedicated to the development of a given doctrine at a given time of the Church. For example, in 1957 Pius XII stated that the cause of restoration of the permanent diaconate at that time lacked “theological maturity.” It was only a very few years later at the Second Vatican Council (1961-1965) that the permanent diaconate was seen as “having reached” its “proper theological maturity,” and hence was reinstated by Pope Paul VI shortly after the Council in 1967.
In sum then, this statement of the theological commission, while providing a valuable contribution to the theological dialogue concerning Maternal Mediation and it potential definition, neither constitutes nor contains any authoritative or official prohibition of the continued activities of Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici, which will continue to work in obedience and solidarity to the Papal Magisterium of Pope John Paul II in seeking to bring about the necessary theological and ecclesial maturity for the solemn definition of Maternal Mediation, whether that be in the distant or “not too distant” future. The final and definitive judgment of which, of course, remains with the present Pontiff. And with all proper appreciation and respect for the contribution of the theological commission, we know from the historical precedence of the Church that several advisory theological commissions requested by the Holy See have come to conclusions which ultimately were not adopted by the Holy See; the most radical example within recent Church precedence having been the theological commission requested by the Holy See to examine the question of artificial birth control, the conclusion of which was overrided by Pope Paul VI when he reaffirmed the constant Church teaching against artificial birth control in his 1968 Encyclical, Humanae Vitae.13
In conclusion, the following summary statements can be Articulated:

1. The present Pontiff, Pope John Paul II has used the title “Coredemptrix” for the Blessed Virgin Mary on at least five occasions in Papal statements accompanied by a profound teaching on the unique participation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the redemption of humanity by Jesus Christ. The titles and roles of “Mediatrix” and “Advocate” are contained in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council (Lumen Gentium, n. 8) and have a rich tradition and usage in the Papal Magisterium of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (with special contribution by the present Papal Magisterium of John Paul II).

2. The teachings of the Second Vatican Council in no way prohibit a solemn definition on Maternal Mediation, and in fact call for a proper theological development and completion of authentic Marian doctrine (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 54).

3 The specific contribution found in the Papal Teachings of Pope John Paul II on the subject of the Maternal Mediation of Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate must be included and appreciated in the contemporary development of mariological doctrine, potentially leading to a solemn definition of Maternal Mediation.

4. The request for a solemn definition of the Maternal Mediation of Mary in no way runs counter to the critical ecclesial mandate for authentic ecumenical activity. The “whole truth about Mary” as part of the “whole truth of the Gospel” will serve as the foundation for ultimate Christian unity, as taught by Christ and entrusted to the Church (cf. Dei Verbum, n. 9, 10). In the words of Pope John Paul II : “To uphold a vision of unity which takes account of all the demands of revealed truth does not mean to put a brake on the ecumenical movement.”14 The Blessed Virgin Mary must be seen not as an obstacle, but as a motherly maternal instrument of unity of all Christians into the one fold of Jesus Christ.

5. The international Catholic movement, Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici, constituting 500 bishops, 42 cardinals, and the petitions of 4.5 million faithful spanning 155 countries, will continue to pray and work in obedience to the Papal Magisterium of Pope John Paul II, in striving for the theological and ecclesial maturity required for the solemn definition of the Maternal Mediation of Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, as is its canonical right and duty expressed in Canon 212, §2,3.

6. Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici leaves the ultimate discernment and decision of the “possibility and opportuneness” of the solemn definition of the Maternal Mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to His Holiness Pope John Paul II, and offers full obedience and submission to his final and definitive judgment.



Endnotes

1 In his greetings to the sick after the general audience of 8 September 1982 the Pope said: “Mary, though conceived and born without the taint of sin, participated in a marvelous way in the sufferings of her divine Son, in order to be Coredemptrix of humanity” (Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, I , V/3 (1982) 404);
In 1984 in his Angelus address in Arona: “To Our Lady—the Coredemptrix—St. Charles turned with singularly revealing accents” (Inseg VII/2 (1984) 1151 [ORE 860:1]);
On 31 January 1985, in an address at the Marian shrine in Guayaquil, Ecuador: “Mary goes before us and accompanies us. The silent journey that begins with her Immaculate Conception and passes through the ‘yes’ of Nazareth, which makes her the Mother of God, finds on Calvary a particularly important moment. There also, accepting and assisting at the sacrifice of her son, Mary is the dawn of Redemption;...Crucified spiritually with her crucified son (cf. Gal. 2:20), she contemplated with heroic love the death of her God, she “lovingly consented to the immolation of this Victim which she herself had brought forth” (Lumen Gentium, 58)...In fact, at Calvary she united herself with the sacrifice of her Son that led to the foundation of the Church; her maternal heart shared to the very depths the will of Christ ‘to gather into one all the dispersed children of God’ (Jn. 11:52). Having suffered for the Church, Mary deserved to become the Mother of all the disciples of her Son, the Mother of their unity....The Gospels do not tell us of an appearance of the risen Christ to Mary. Nevertheless, as she was in a special way close to the Cross of her Son, she also had to have a privileged experience of his Resurrection. In fact, Mary's role as Coredemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son” (Inseg VIII/1 (1985) 318-319 [ORE 876:7]);
On 31 March 1985, Palm Sunday and World Youth Day: “At the Angelus hour on this Palm Sunday, which the Liturgy calls also the Sunday of the Lord's Passion, our thoughts run to Mary, immersed in the mystery of an immeasurable sorrow. Mary accompanied her divine Son in the most discreet concealment pondering everything in the depths of her heart. On Calvary, at the foot of the Cross, in the vastness and in the depth of her maternal sacrifice, she had John, the youngest Apostle, beside her....May, Mary our Protectress, the Coredemptrix, to whom we offer our prayer with great outpouring, make our desire generously correspond to the desire of the Redeemer” (Inseg VIII/1 (1985) 889-890 [ORE 880:12]);
In commemorating the sixth centenary of the canonization of St. Bridget of Sweden on 6 October 1991: “Birgitta looked to Mary as her model and support in the various moments of her life. She spoke energetically about the divine privilege of Mary's Immaculate Conception. She contemplated her astonishing mission as Mother of the Saviour. She invoked her as the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Sorrows, and Coredemptrix, exalting Mary's singular role in the history of salvation and the life of the Christian people” (Inseg XIV/2 (1991) 756 [ORE 1211:4]. Cf. Monsignor Arthur Calkins, “John Paul II’s Teaching on Marian Coredemption,” as found in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations II, Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical, 1997, Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara, CA.
2 Cf. Miravalle, Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations, Towards A Papal Definition?, 1995, Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara, CA.
3 Pope John Paul II, General Audience of 9 April, L’Osservatore Romano, p. 7, 16 April English ed.
4 See Miravalle, “Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Foundational Presence in Divine Revelation” as found in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations, Towards A Papal Definition, 1995, Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara, CA.
5 Cf. Rev. John Schug, “Mary, Coredemptrix: The Significance of her Title in the Magisterium of The Church” as found in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations, Towards A Papal Definition, 1995, Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara, CA; and Monsignor Arthur Calkins, “John Paul II’s Teaching on Marian Coredemption,” as found in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations II, Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical, 1997, Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara, CA.
6 Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, n.3.
7 Pope John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint, n.36.
8 Ibid, n.18.
9 Cf. Address to the Cardinals and Roman Curia (June 28, 1985),6:AAS 77 (1985), 1153; cf. Ut Unum Sint, n.79.
10 Ut Unum Sint, n.79.
11 Ut Unum Sint, n.94.
12 John Cardinal O’Connor, Letter of Endorsement to Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici, Feb. 14, 1994, as published in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, Cardinal Endorsements, Queenship Publications, Santa Barbara, CA.,1994.
13 Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Letter, Humanae Vitae, 1968, p. 6, n.6, Daughters of St. Paul, Boston, MA.
14 Cf. Address to the Cardinals and Roman Curia (June 28, 1985),6:AAS 77 (1985), 1153; cf. Ut Unum Sint, n.79.
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