following is an October 26, 2002 interview given to Kath.net by Msgr. Arthur B.
Calkins, Member of the Pontifical International Marian Academy of the Pontifical
Roman Theological Academy.
it's the right time for a dogma on Mary as Coredemptrix
with Msgr. Arthur B. Calkins (Member of the Pontifical International
Marian Academy of the Pontifical Roman Theological Academy)
In a recent interview Father Stefano De Fiores spoke against the
opportuneness of a definition about Mary as Coredemptrix, stating
that our separated brethren should be consulted about such a definition
and implying that some kind of consensus would have to be reached
with them before a definition would be possible. What do you think?
Arthur B. Calkins: My first comment is that genuine Catholic ecumenism
should never be seen as a simple matter of consensus or compromise
even though that impression often seems to be given today. While
we Catholics should have genuine Christian love for our separated
brethren and respect for their positions, we must have no less love
and respect for “the Catholic faith that comes to us from
the Apostles”. Hence I do not believe that we must allow either
our separated brethren or "political correctness" to dictate
Catholic doctrine or when it is opportune to proclaim it.
Calkins: If Mary’s coredemptive role raises objections inside
the Church, I believe it is because that there has often been an
unconscious tendency on the part of Catholics in recent times to
accept the fundamental Lutheran dogma of Christus solus without
recognizing that Catholic doctrine has always maintained the absolute
centrality and primacy of Christ but without denying the necessity
of man’s collaborating with him in the work of salvation.
Further, Catholic teaching from the time of the post-Apostolic Fathers
has clearly upheld that no one has collaborated as fully as Mary,
the “New Eve”, in the work of our salvation. This is
a “saving truth” that says a great deal about Mary’s
role in the economy of salvation and in our lives, about us, about
the nature of salvation and the value of salvific suffering. If
other questions seem more important than these, I’m afraid
it is because we have lost our philosophical and theological bases
and become “political” pragmatists.
Father De Fiores says that “the title Coredemptrix has not
been used since Pius XII and the Pontiffs do not mention it precisely
so as not to cause a misunderstanding with the Protestants”.
How do you respond to that?
Calkins: The first draft of the document that would eventually become
chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium explicitly acknowledged the legitimacy
of the term Coredemptrix as applied to Our Lady, but refrained from
using it so as not to cause undue problems with our Protestant brothers
and sisters. I believe that we are free to debate the wisdom of
such an approach. The fact is that chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium (especially
57-58 and 60-62) gave more attention to Mary’s altogether
unique collaboration in the work of our redemption than all of the
other ecumenical councils combined, even though the word Coredemptrix
was not used!
But a further clarification is also in order: Pope John Paul II
has spoken of Our Lady as Coredemptrix or of her coredemptive role
at least six times. I have most recently documented these in my
article, “The Mystery of Mary Coredemptrix in the Papal Magisterium”
in Mark Miravalle (ed.), Mary Co-redemptrix: Doctrinal Issues Today
(Goleta, CA: Queenship Publishing, 2002) and have analyzed the weightiest
of these texts, the Pope’s homily in Guayaquil, Ecuador of
31 January 1985, in my article “Pope John Paul II’s
Ordinary Magisterium on Marian Coredemption: Consistent Teaching
and More Recent Perspectives” in Mary at the Foot of the Cross
– II (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2002). Although
there are some mariologists who want to label all of these usages
as “marginal [and] therefore devoid of doctrinal weight”,
I beg to differ with them and find their judgment strangely out
of harmony with the declaration of Lumen Gentium 25 on the Pope’s
Why do you favor a definition of Mary as Coredemptrix?
Calkins: I favor such a definition because I believe that this is
a “saving truth” which the Church of our time especially
needs to hear and assimilate. It is not a “new” truth,
but it is one which the Holy Spirit has brought to the fore with
ever more precision in the course of the past millennium (cf. the
Pope’s general audience addresses of 25 October 1995 and of
9 April 1997). It was obviously a topic of interest at the Second
Vatican Council and, as in the case of so many other conciliar themes,
we are only now beginning to grasp the richness of what was said,
especially with the help of Pope John Paul II’s teaching.
Of course the ground needs to be prepared for such a definition
and in recent years there have been excellent studies which have
been devoted to this topic, especially in English and Italian. Dr.
Mark Miravalle has already published four volumes of studies (cf.
www.queenship.org) as have
the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate in Frigento along with numerous
monographs, while the American Friars of the Immaculate have published
two volumes of scholarly studies with a third on the way (cf. www.marymediatrix.com).
Studies of Mary’s collaboration in the work of redemption
have also begun to appear in other places such as in the theological
faculty of Lugano, Switzerland.
What do you think would be the benefits of such a definition?
Calkins: If it is true that God has given Mary a unique role in
the work of our redemption, we need to recognize it, to celebrate
it and to benefit from it. The first four Marian dogmas (divine
maternity, perpetual virginity, Immaculate Conception, Assumption)
have to do with her person and have unfolded in a providential way.
Now, I believe, is the time to underscore her role as the principal
human collaborator in the work of our redemption, her role as the
Mediatrix whose unique mediation derives totally from his (cf. Lumen
Gentium #60), her role as Advocate (after Christ and the Holy Spirit)
who never ceases to intercede for her children until the last of
them are led into their heavenly home (cf. Lumen Gentium 62). The
more we avert to her role, the more we can be enriched by it. I
believe that the benefits with regard to clarification of Catholic
doctrine alone would be incalculable.
Vitæ of Monsignor Arthur B. Calkins:
Arthur B. Calkins is a native of Erie, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. and
was ordained a priest on 7 May 1970 for the Archdiocese of New Orleans
where he served in various parishes as parochial vicar and was involved
in other pastoral activities. He has a master's degree in theology
from the Catholic University of America, a licentiate in sacred
theology with specialization in Mariology from the International
Marian Research Institute in Dayton and a doctorate which he earned
summa cum laude in the same field from the Pontifical Theological
Faculty of St. Bonaventure (the Seraphicum) in Rome. His doctoral
study, Totus Tuus: John Paul II's Program of Marian Consecration
and Entrustment (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate "Studies
and Texts," No. 1), has gone into three printings. His articles
on Mariology and spirituality have appeared in both popular and
scholarly publications as well as in the acts of congresses and
symposia. The list of his publications may be found at http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/calkins/calkinsbib.html.
He was named a corresponding member of the Pontifical International
Marian Academy in 1985 and a corresponding member of the Pontifical
Roman Theological Academy in 1995. He has been an official of the
Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" since 1991 and was
named a Chaplain of His Holiness with the title of Monsignor in