Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mary As Co-Redemptrix?

Upping the Marian ante...This goes too far, even for me

The Annunciation, by Antonello da Messina (1477)

For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all. This was the testimony at the proper time. For this I was appointed preacher and apostle (I am speaking the truth, I am not lying), teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
-- 1 Timothy 2:5-7

I can be ecumenical, but I can also be quite partisan in my preference for, and defense of Catholicism. I'm not a relativist. I think the differences matter, and I do believe that the Church of Jesus Christ "subsists" in the Catholic Church... Read that as Cardinal Willebrands meant it or how Pope Benedict interprets it, if you prefer... However you like.

I revere the Blessed Mother and pray for her intercession, as she is the first and the finest example of the saints. A few posts ago I acknowledged her role in God's plan for our salvation and her unique importance in educating us on the Incarnational Principle:

- God’s plan for divine human cooperation (Doctrine of Mediation). God comes to us mediated throught the human. God works through the human.
- Christ is a divine person who has taken to himself a human nature. His purpose was to be the new mediator. God uses human nature to bring about our redemption.
- Mary is not divine. We venerate, but do not worship her. She was a human person with unique status. The key to this was Mary’s faith. Mary said yes freely, and brought God’s plan to fruition.

As put earlier by Bernard of Clairvaux - “Mary, we are all waiting to find out what you are going to say. Say ‘Yes ‘and move on, because we are all waiting for you.”
I accept the Marian dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption. They make sense to me as to what is "fitting" and to what is held by the sense of the faithful even if they can't be explicity spelled out in scripture. I accept the place of Tradition as well as the role of Scripture (both having the same wellspring) - "Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit. To the successors of the apostles, sacred Tradition hands on in its full purity God’s word, which was entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit." (Dei Verbum)

I have no problem with the titles that have been assigned to her; Mother of God, Mother of the Church, etc...

During the pontificate of John Paul II, there was some talk floated around the topic of declaring Mary as a Co-Redeemer, or "Co-Redemptrix", a proposed title that has been alive in some circles for quite some time. Even though JPII was considered to have been favorable to the idea, it never really went anywhere, but now in this climate that is friendly towards restorationist traditionalism, with no countervailing checks or balances, there is a movement underway to have a 5th Marian Dogma declared, assigning Mary with this title. I think this goes too far. Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of all Graces? This is too close to deification.

Not only would this be an ecumenical train wreck, which goes without saying, but I, speaking as a Catholic, am troubled by the assignation of a title that directly contradicts scripture. It is one thing to recognize Tradition and Sacred Scripture both coming from the same divine wellspring, but Tradition cannot flatly contradict Scripture, which in my view, these titles do. Why is a dogmatic declaration needed? If it is meant only as I have described above in the incarnational quote highlighted in blue, that is all very well and good, but this title in my mind puts Mary on a par with Christ, and in effect, becomes as sort of deification. Here is the complete text of the petition presented by the five cardinals to the Holy See. I faithfully pray that it not be adopted and proclaimed. I do not believe that Benedict will do so...

The letter was sent Jan. 1, solemnity of the Mother of God, and signed by Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi, India; Cardinal Luis Aponte Martínez, retired archbishop of San Juan, Puerto Rico; Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, India; Cardinal Riccardo Vidal, archbishop of Cebu, Philippines; and Cardinal Ernesto Corripio y Ahumada, retired archbishop of Mexico City.

* * *
Dear Brother Eminences and Excellencies:

In May 2005, we, as cardinal co-patrons, sponsored a Mariological symposium convened on the subject of the cooperation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the work of human Redemption at the favored Fatima shrine in Portugal.

After extensive theological presentations delivered by a significant number of cardinals, bishops, and theologians, we concluded the symposium by enacting a votum to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI. The votum reads as follows:

Your Holiness, Benedict XVI,

In an effort to enhance the ecumenical mission of the Church, and to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all its fullness, we, the undersigned cardinals and bishops who have convened in the favored Marian Shrine of Fatima (May 3-7, 2005), wish to express to you, Most Holy Father, our united hope and desire for the solemn papal definition of the doctrine of the Church regarding Mary Most Holy as the Spiritual Mother of all humanity, the Co-redemptrix with Jesus the Redeemer, Mediatrix of all graces with Jesus the one Mediator, and Advocate with Jesus Christ on behalf of the human race.

In a time of significant confusion amidst the many diverse ecclesial bodies of Christianity, and as well among non-Christian peoples concerning this Marian doctrine, we believe the time opportune for a solemn definition of clarification regarding the constant teaching of the Church concerning the Mother of the Redeemer and her unique cooperation (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 61) in the work of Redemption, as well as her subsequent roles in the distribution of grace and intercession for the human family.

It is of great importance, Holy Father, that peoples of other religious traditions receive the clarification on the highest level of authentic doctrinal certainty that we can provide, that the Catholic Church essentially distinguishes between the sole role of Jesus Christ, divine and human Redeemer of the world, and the unique though secondary and dependent human participation of the Mother of Christ in the great work of Redemption.

Therefore, Your Holiness, with filial obedience and respect, we wish to present you with this votum of our solidarity of hope for the papal definition of the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God as the spiritual Mother of all peoples in her three maternal roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate, as the ultimate expression of doctrinal clarity at the service of our Christian and non-Christian brothers and sisters who are not in communion with Rome, and as well as for the greater understanding and appreciation of this revealed doctrine concerning the Mother of the Redeemer by the People of God at the outset of this third millennium of Christianity.

We thereby submit this votum accompanied by one possible formulation of the Marian doctrine which we, please God, pray may be solemnly defined by your Holiness:

Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of man, gave to humanity from the Cross his mother Mary to be the spiritual Mother of all peoples, the Co-redemptrix, who under and with her Son cooperated in the Redemption of all people; the Mediatrix of all graces, who as Mother brings us the gifts of eternal life; and the Advocate, who presents our prayers to her Son.

On June 7, 2006, our brother, Telesphore Cardinal Toppo, presented the above votum in Latin to His Holiness on behalf of all the cardinal and bishop participants at the 2005 Fatima Symposium, together with the published acta from the symposium. The Holy Father received the votum and the acta with an accentuated gratitude and his expressed intention to study carefully the acta.

We now write to you, brother cardinals and bishops, to inform you of this votum for the solemn definition of Our Lady as the Spiritual Mother of humanity and its essential roles, and respectfully request your own prayerful consideration regarding the possibility of adding your own esteemed assent to this votum to Our Holy Father. We have enclosed a copy of the original Latin votum for your examination and, if you felt so inspired by Our Lady, you would be free to sign and to forward it on to His Holiness.

Certainly, if it so pleased the Holy Father to proceed with this request, any final formation of the definition would in no manner be bound to the formulation of the enclosed votum, but rather left entirely to his unique charism as the Successor of Peter. It is also noteworthy that over the course of the past fifteen years, over 500 bishops have sent their request for this solemn definition to the Holy See, along with approximately 7 million petitions from the Catholic faithful worldwide.

We thank you for your prayerful consideration of this request on behalf of Our Lady, Mother of the Church and Queen of the Apostles. May she guide you in your discernment of this matter to the wisdom of Jesus Christ, our divine Redeemer, through the counsel of the Holy Spirit, all leading to the fulfillment of the perfect will of our Heavenly Father.

With cordial best wishes in Jesus and Mary,

Telesphore Cardinal Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, India; President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India; Luis Cardinal Aponte Martínez, Archbishop Emeritus of San Juan, Puerto RicoVarkey Cardinal Vithayathil, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, India Riccardo Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop of Cebu, Philippines Ernesto Cardinal Corrippio Ahumada, Primate Emeritus of Mexico

Cardinal Co-sponsors of the Fatima Symposium on Marian Coredemption


Garpu the Fork said...

Plain and simple, it's a political move. Pray for the Church, I guess. It's all any of us can do. Christ said that nothing would prevail against it, and I have to hope that goes for those within the Church, as well.

Liam said...


"...the Co-redemptrix with Jesus the Redeemer, Mediatrix of all graces with Jesus the one Mediator..."

Does this make sense? Is Mary the Mediatrix of ALL graces? Does then have a role in the sacraments? How can Jesus be the one Mediator if there is also a Mediatrix?

I could imagine JPII going for this, since his Marian devotion was extremist. B16 might just to make people angry.

It would be an ecumenical nightmare
Here's an interstine article (scroll down to "No New Dogmas, Please") by an Orthodox Bishop. Personally I feel, as a Catholic, very close to the Orthodox. I was upset when B16 stopped using the title "Patriarch of the West," since that's basically how I see the role of the pope.

Nice painting.

Liam said...

Interstine? Not awake yet here. "Interesting."

crystal said...

Maybe it has to do with not being raised a Catholic, but I have trouble with the way Mary is seen even now - this new idea seems even weirder. I'm not sure I understand the effort to make Mary as important as Jesus - what is it that unerlies extreme Marionism?

Jeff said...

Hi Garpu and Liam,

I know some of this goes back to Louis de Montfort, but I had a feeling this whole Fatima thing would contribute to something like this. In the most extreme case, have you heard about the (Third Secret) Mary is God Movement out of the Phillipines?

I think Benedict is too smart a theologian to do this. Benedict has a more Christocentric, or at least less Marian piety than JPII had, so I don't think he'd ever proclaim this, yet on the other hand, he's put Lucia dos Santos on the fast track for beatification, so who knows? Just about everything that has happened in this century so far has stunned me.


You don't see much merit in what Congar says about her, her "Fiat", and the Incarnation, or in what was said about her in the Orthodox article cited by Liam? "A unique person able to identify with the deepest delights, griefs and aspirations of people across ages, cultures and classes". As much as we can suspect that some Catholics make too much out of her, I think it's fair to say that historically, Protestants have made too little of her.

Garpu the Fork said...

You know, the more I learn about Fatima, the less I like it. Nothing I can specifically put a finger on, but...private revelation should be just that sometimes.

cowboyangel said...

I wasn't surprised to see signers of the petition from Mexico, Puerto Rico or the Philippines, but that India supplied the most names from one country, that was interesting.

Any idea why this movement would be coming in large part from India?

crystal said...

Maybe it's that I haven't really learned much about Marianism - nothing about it in my RCIA class, nothing about it in the retreat I took, and I haven't read up on it.

I guess I am kind of Protestant in that I don't understand the beliefs about her that have no basis in scripture. Maybe you could point me towards some stuff to read?

Garpu the Fork said...

I just read a book about Marian apparitions that was pretty good. It's called "Encountering Mary" by Sandra Zimdars-Swartz, published by Princeton. It's an academic book, but it's really readable.

Another one (a bit lighter) is called "Waiting For Mary" by Mark Garvey...his book is a bit more of a personal narrative, but it's funny, insightful, and a good meditation of how one person came to terms with the idea of Mary.

I've seen both of them at Half Price Books for less than $10.

crystal said...

Thanks, Jen. I'll look around for those.

Jeff said...


I found it interesting too, that some of the members of that commission were from India. Maybe that reflects the very conservative nature of episcopal appointments and the granting of cardinalates in the past few years, perhaps in response to the inclusive theology of the sanctioned Sri lankan Fr. Tissa Balasuriya.


Have you ever read the Miracle Detective? It's an interesting book. I like the quote they have in the catechism from St. John of the Cross regarding private revalation. I'm inclined to agree with him.


Those sound like good suggestions by Jen. I've never read a stand-alone book about Mary. I know Scott Hahn has written one (Hail Holy Queen), but I haven't read much of his stuff myself.

Garpu the Fork said...

Miracle Detective...believe I have it in my book pile somewhere. Let me dig for it. :)

crystal said...

What did John of the Cross say about private revelation? I wonder if the fact that some of those who wanted the changes were from India has anything to do with Hinduism's goddesses.

Jeff said...

Hi Crys,

He's quoted from Ascent of Mt Carmel:

"In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word – and he has no more to say ... because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behavior but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty."

I tend to agree.

I confess that that the Hindu influence did occur to me, but I don't know enough about these Cardinals to say.

crystal said...

On this theme, there was a question last week at On Faith about "Jesus of Siberia" and modern day revelations. Fr. Reese had an interesting comment.

Jeff said...

Wow, I hadn't heard that about Anne Catherine Emmerich's revelations being a creation of Clemens Brentano. Good tip from Reese and O'Malley.

Kiwi Nomad 2008 said...

I spent six days in Lourdes in 2006. For me, as a lapsed Catholic, I was amazed that I ended up staying so long, but there was something about the prayerful atmosphere of the place that captivated me.
On the Sunday they had an international Mass. But as an English speaker I felt quite isolated and lonely. It seemed like the miraculous happened and I ended up having lunch with two other Kiwis. It is hard to explain, but I feel sure that Mary acted on my behalf that day. It almost seemed like she told her Son to get into action- that this little lass needed some attention. It seemed to me like I experienced a mother's care and attention, as if she funnelled my prayers in loneliness up to a 'higher channel' for attention. So she didn't redeem me, or offer me graces.... but she told Jesus I needed some help tyvm!

Jeff said...

Hi Kiwi,

Thanks for posting. That was a very good testimony. Lourdes certainly does continue to draw large groups of pilgrims, and Bernadette certainly was an intriguing, fascinating, and very holy & sincere personality.

kate said...



Third Secret of Fatima Movement could get support from such countries as India where female deities are common.

I am quite impressed by the absence of an official statement from the local archdiocese to where the visionary of this fatima movement is located.


Jeff said...

Hi Kate,

Thanks for visiting. That movement comes out of the Phillipines, but you may be right. I remember corresponding with some traditionalists a few years back who were very upset about the presence of so many Hindu shrines popping up around the Fatima site. There may be more to this angle than I thought.

It's good that the local Filipino bishop isn't endorsing this movement, but maybe he needs to step up and bit in regards to condemning it.