Now Is the Time for a Dogma of Mary Co-redemptrix
The following is an October 31, 2002 interview given to Zenit by Dr. Mark Miravalle
on the occasion of the release of John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae.
Ohio, OCT. 31, 2002 (Zenit.org).-
The Pope's new apostolic letter "Rosarium Virginis Mariae"
(The Rosary of the Virgin Mary) has rekindled interest in Our Lady's
role in the life of Christ and in salvation history.
Miravalle, a leading proponent for having Mary declared Co-redemptrix,
offered his views with ZENIT. Miravalle is professor of theology
and Mariology at Franciscan University of Steubenville and president
of Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici.
Why do you think the title of Mary Co-redemptrix is a legitimate
Marian title within the Church?
The Marian title "Co-redemptrix" refers to the unique
participation of Mary in the work of our redemption accomplished
by Jesus Christ. The prefix "co" comes from the Latin
word "cum," which means "with" and "not
term as used by the Church never places Mary on a level of equality
with Jesus Christ, the divine redeemer. Yet the free and active
human cooperation by the Mother of Jesus in redemption, particularly
at the annunciation and at Calvary, is rightfully acknowledged by
the papal magisterium and the teachings of the Second Vatican Council
-- see "Lumen Gentium," Nos. 56, 57, 58 and 61 -- and
becomes the pre-eminent example of how every Christian is called
to become a "co-worker with God."
theologian Father Cottier, O.P., recently defended the title of
Mary Co-redemptrix in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council
in an international address for the Congregation of Clergy. Cardinal
Schönborn, former secretary of the universal Catechism, is
also an eloquent defender of the title, and one of the 550 bishops
endorsing the papal definition of Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix
of all graces, and Advocate.
Has John Paul II ever called Mary the "Co-redemptrix"?
Pope John Paul II has used the title of Co-redemptrix on at least
six occasions in papal addresses, as did Pope Pius XI several times
example, in his homily at Guayaquil, Ecuador, in January 1985, John
Paul stated that Mary was "crucified spiritually with her crucified
Son" and that "her role as Co-redemptrix did not cease
after the glorification of her Son."
repeated and consistent teachings of our Holy Father on Mary as
Co-redemptrix in papal addresses and homilies is a manifestation
of the mind and ordinary magisterium of the Pope that does call
for our religious submission of will and intellect, according to
Lumen Gentium, 25.
Second Vatican Council makes reference to papal allocutions on numerous
occasions as doctrinal support for its conciliar conclusions. As
papal addresses were recognized by the council as legitimate doctrinal
sources, so John Paul's Marian magisterium should be recognized
in the same way in this post-conciliar period.
bears strong witness to the title of Mary Co-redemptrix. St. Pio
of Pietrelcina, St. Josemaría Escrivá, St. Teresa
Benedicta of the Cross -- Edith Stein, St. Leopold Mandic, Blessed
Bartolo Longo and numerous other recently canonized saints and blesseds
have used the title, along with St. Maximilian Kolbe.
Teresa of Calcutta was in a real sense one of the leaders in the
cause for a dogmatic definition of Mary Co-redemptrix and Mediatrix
of all graces. Sister Lucia, the Fatima visionary, has also underscored
the role of Mary Co-redemptrix in her latest book, "Calls from
the Message of Fatima," expounding upon Mary Co-redemptrix
in six different sections.
What about the objection that Co-redemptrix is not a legitimate
term because it is not in the language of Scripture and the Church
To object to the legitimacy of the title of Co-redemptrix is implicitly
to criticize John Paul II, who, once again, has repeatedly used
the title of Co-redemptrix. To use the language of Scripture and
the Fathers as a criterion for legitimate Church terminology would
be effectively to eliminate the Marian dogmatic titles of the Immaculate
Conception and Assumption, as well as the term transubstantiation
and even papal infallibility, as none of these dogmatic truths are
described in the language of Scripture and the Fathers.
would be important to avoid any type of semi-primitivism which would
preclude a legitimate development of doctrine or title because of
the lack of its explicit presence in Scripture and the Fathers.
Cardinal Newman answered Pusey regarding a similar objection by
saying, "Why do you protest against Our Lady being called Co-redemptrix
when you are ready to accept the immeasurably more glorious titles
ascribed to her by the Fathers: Mother of God, Second Eve, Mother
of All the Living, Mother of Life, Morning Star, Mystical New Heaven,
Center of Orthodoxy, the all-undefiled Mother of Holiness, and the
But would the papal definition of Mary Co-redemptrix hinder the
important ecumenical mission of the Church?
In the 1950s, Protestant theologians Miegge and Maury identified
Marian co-redemption as the fundamental issue of 20th-century Mariology.
More recently, the Dombes ecumenical treatment on Mary noted that
the omission of the titles of Co-redemptrix and Mediatrix of all
graces at Vatican II for reasons of not offending Protestant Christians
was not effective, since the doctrine of co-redemption and mediation
remained a fundamental teaching of the council.
is time to be more straightforward with other Christian ecclesial
bodies about Catholic doctrine on Marian co-redemption and mediation,
and to articulate this truth with the greatest possible theological
integrity and precision, while at the same time manifesting great
sensitivity to those who do not share our Catholic vision. This
would be the significant ecumenical benefit of a definition of Mary
late Cardinal O'Connor of New York stated that a definition would
greatly assist ecumenism because its precise articulation would
assure other Christians that we do distinguish adequately between
Mary's unique association with Christ and the redemptive power exercised
by Christ alone.
"Ut Unum Sint," the Holy Father states that the Christian
unity willed by God can only be attained by an acceptance of the
full content of revealed truth, and prohibits any compromise of
truth or doctrinal development for the sake of "facile agreement."
is why the person of John Paul II offers a particular rationale
for the present opportuneness of a papal definition of Mary Co-redemptrix.
This Pope possesses the true gift of being at the same time "fully
ecumenical" and "fully Marian." Who better than John
Paul II to strike the delicate balance between full dogmatic integrity
and genuine ecumenical sensitivity regarding the formulation of
a new Marian dogma? Does he not brilliantly portray this careful
balance in "Rosarium Virginis Mariae"?
the beginning of the 1987 Marian Year, the Holy Father encouraged
the preparatory commission to have more "trust in Mary for
the mission of ecumenism." The same wisdom applies regarding
a possible Marian dogma. The spiritual Mother of all peoples remains
the Mother of Christian unity, not its obstacle.
regards to the Orthodox, our sister Churches, their generous liturgical
celebration of the role of the Mother of God in our salvation is
something for the Western Church to emulate and rediscover. Their
common liturgical entreaty, "O Mother of God, save us,"
captures the heart of Mary's unique role in the salvific mission
of her Son. In fact, Patriarch Bartholomew issued a 1998 Lenten
encyclical on the role of the Mother of God in salvation, which
went almost completely unnoticed in the West.
fact remains that the Orthodox Churches, as do Protestant ecclesial
bodies, do not accept the office of papacy, and thereby could never
logically be in favor of the exercise of a papal charism of infallibility
from an office that they a priori reject. This is why to hold that
until we receive the endorsement of Orthodox and Protestant authorities
for a dogma, Marian or otherwise, the Pope should not declare a
dogma, is philosophically and practically to eliminate entirely
the charism of papal infallibility.
How many Catholic faithful have petitioned for this dogma, and do
you see any relevance for the proclamation of this Marian dogma
with the present world situation?
In the last 10 years, about 7 million petitions from over 150 countries
have been sent to the Holy See, along with the endorsements of 550
bishops and over 40 cardinals. This constitutes the largest petition
drive per annum in the history of the Church.
light of the present world climate of war and rumors of war, I believe
the proclamation of the dogma of Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of
all graces and Advocate would be the means to release the full exercise
of Our Lady's motherly intercessory role in bringing peace to a
troubled world, in fulfillment of her Fatima promise that "in
the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph ... and a period of peace
will be granted to the world." God respects human freedom,
and the papal proclamation would "free her" to exercise
fully her saving roles for contemporary humanity.
recent promulgation of "Rosarium Virginis Mariae" and
the gift of five new luminous mysteries reminds us that the Holy
Father has a mind of his own regarding the Mother of God. I believe
we should remain open-minded and obedient to the final discernment
of this "Totus Tuus" Pope regarding the opportuneness
of the papal definition of Mary Co-redemptrix.
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