Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Dr. Miravalle's Response To 7 Common Objections To Mary As Co-Redemptrix: Objection 5

Objection 5: The idea of Mary as Co-redemptrix and the teaching of Marian co-redemption is a pious belief held by some devotional Catholics, but is not a doctrinal teaching of the Catholic Church. It is found only in minor papal texts and is neither officially taught by the Magisterium, nor is doctrinally present in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

For a member of the Catholic faith, the question of whether a given theological position constitutes an authentic doctrinal teaching of the Church or not is essentially manifested by its presence (or lack thereof) in the teachings from recognized Church authority. The official teaching authority of the Catholic Church, or "Magisterium," consists of the official teaching of the pope and bishops in union with the pope under the general guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Although there exists a certain hierarchy amidst the expressions of official Catholic teaching authority, from the defined dogma of an ecumenical council or papal ex cathedra infallible statement, to general ecumenical council doctrinal teaching, to encyclical letters, to more general papal teachings contained in papal addresses, there at the same time remains the general directive for the Catholic faithful that is stated by the Second Vatican Council of the need for a religious assent of mind and heart to the manifest mind of the pope, even when he is not speaking infallibly. And certainly all doctrinal teachings from ecumenical councils, papal encyclicals, or consistently repeated papal teachings would constitute authentic doctrinal teachings of the Catholic Church.

Let us now apply this criteria for official Catholic doctrine to the question of the doctrinal status of Marian co-redemption.

From the basis of the doctrinal teachings of the Second Vatican Council alone, the certainty of the doctrinal status of Marian co-redemption is unquestionable. Vatican II repeatedly teaches Mary's unique participation in the redemption of Jesus Christ:

...She devoted herself totally, as handmaid of the Lord, to the person and work of her Son, under and with him, serving the mystery of redemption, by the grace of Almighty God. Rightly, therefore, the Fathers see Mary not merely as passively engaged by God, but as freely cooperating in the work of man's salvation through faith and obedience.

And further:

Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, associated herself with his sacrifice in her mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim which was born of her.

And further by the Council:

She conceived, brought forth, and nourished Christ, she presented Him to the Father in the temple, shared her Son's suffering as He died on the cross. Thus, in a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the work of the Savior in restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace.

Vatican theologian, Fr. Jean Galot, S.J., confirms the official doctrinal status of Marian co-redemption in light of Vatican II teaching:

Without using the term "co-redemptrix," the Council clearly enunciated the doctrine: a cooperation of a unique kind, a maternal cooperation in the life and work of the Savior, which reaches its apex in the participation in the sacrifice of Calvary, and which is oriented towards the supernatural life of souls...

And as articulated by Galot in the official Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano: "The Second Vatican Council, which avoided employing this debated title (Co-redemptrix), nevertheless affirmed with vigor the doctrine it implies..."

Beyond its certain doctrinal presence in Vatican II, Marian co-redemption, along with the explicit use of the title co-redemptrix, is a repeated papal teaching spanning the 19th to the 21st century, which again assures its authentic doctrinal status within the Church. Marian co-redemption is repeatedly taught in numerous papal encyclicals and general teachings, as reflected in the following representative citations of official papal teachings:

Leo XIII: ""When Mary offered herself completely to God together with her Son in the temple, she was already sharing with Him the painful atonement on behalf of the human race. It is certain, therefore, that she suffered in the very depths of her soul with His most bitter sufferings and with His torments. Finally, it was before the eyes of Mary that the Divine sacrifice for which she had born and nurtured the victim, was to be finished...we see that there stood by the Cross of Jesus His Mother, who in a miracle of charity, so that we might receive us as her sons, willingly offered Him up to divine justice, dying with Him in her heart, pierced with the sword of sorrow."

St. Pius X: "Owing to the union of suffering and purpose existing between Christ and Mary, she merited to become most worthily the Reparatrix of the lost world, and for this reason, the dispenser of all the favors which Jesus acquired for us by His death and His blood... and because she was chosen by Christ to be His partner in the work of salvation, she merits for us de congruo as they say, that which Christ merits for us de condigno..."

Benedict XV: "The fact that she was with her Son, crucified and dying, was in accord with the divine plan. To such extent did she surrender her maternal rights over her Son for man's salvation, and immolated Him—in so far as she could—in order to appease the justice of God, that we may rightly say she redeemed the human race together with Christ."

Pius XI: "O Mother of love and mercy who, when thy sweetest Son was consummating the Redemption of the human race on the altar of the cross, did stand next to Him, suffering with Him as a Co-redemptrix...preserve in us, we beseech thee, and increase day by day the precious fruit of His Redemption and the compassion of His Mother."

Pius XII: "It was she who, always most intimately united with her Son, like a New Eve, offered Him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father, together with the sacrifice of her maternal rights and love, on behalf of all the children of Adam, shamed by the latter's shameful fall."

John Paul II: "In her, the many and intense sufferings were amassed in such an interconnected way that they were not only a proof of her unshakable faith, but also a contribution to the redemption of all....It was on Calvary that Mary's suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view, but which were mysteriously and supernaturally fruitful for the Redemption of the world. Her ascent of Calvary and her standing at the foot of the cross together with the beloved disciple were a special sort of sharing in the redeeming death of her Son."

John Paul II: "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 which led to the foundation of the Church....In fact, Mary's role as Co-redemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son."

We see then both from the criteria of ecumenical council teaching and from repeated papal teaching through encyclical and general instruction, the teaching of Marian co-redemption without question constitutes an authentic doctrine within the authoritative teachings of the Magisterium.

It is sometimes objected that the specific title, Co-redemptrix only appears in papal teachings of lesser importance, and therefore does not represent Catholic doctrinal teachings. This would be to artificially separate the title, Co-redemptrix from the theological doctrine of co-redemption, with which the title is essentially linked and derived from. The title refers to the spiritual function which Mary performs in her unique cooperation in Redemption, and therefore to separate the title from the doctrine is to inappropriately and dangerously disconnect the title from its revealed and authoritatively taught doctrinal foundation. In sum, the doctrinal certainty of Marian co-redemption guarantees the doctrinal certainty of Mary Co-redemptrix.

Moreover, the repeated papal use of the Co-redemptrix title by the present pope on at least six separate occasions should in itself, for the faithful Catholic, immediately remove any question of the doctrinal legitimacy of the title Co-redemptrix (whether personally or prudentially preferable to the individual Catholic or not). Lest, on the other hand, the Catholic is to conclude contrarily that Pope John Paul II has repeatedly used a Marian title which is in itself doctrinally erroneous, theologically unsound, or intrinsically without Christian doctrinal foundation. This appears foreign to the fullest sense of the religious assent of mind and will to be given the manifest mind of the pope to non- infallible papal teachings.

In sum, in light of both conciliar and repeated papal teachings, Marian Co-redemption and it corresponding title, Mary Co-redemptrix, constitutes an official doctrinal teaching of the Church.

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