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Roman Catholicism

The Army of Mary: An excommunicated
 Roman Catholic group

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The Army of Mary is the popular name for the Community of the Lady of All Nations. It is a special interest group, considered by its followers to be a part of the Roman Catholic faith. It was founded in Quebec, Canada, on 1971-AUG-28. As the name implies, the group's purpose is to bring "together souls of good will resolved to live, with Mary, the Christian life to its perfection in all the demands of the duties of their state. They suggest that "The Army of Mary is the Catholic religion lived intensely." 1 According to the Army's web site, "the goal of the Army of Mary is the sanctification of souls through devotion to the Triple White – the Eucharist, Mary and the Pope..." By emphasizing the Christian message of peace and love, they believe that Jesus' second coming will be hastened.

Members of the Army, called Knights of Mary, are expected to:

bullet Develop a spirit of prayer.
bullet Assist at mass and receive communion every day, if possible.
bullet Practice the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.
bullet Observe the Ten Commandments.
bullet Recite the rosary each day, the fifteen decades if possible.
bullet Do at least fifteen minutes of spiritual reading daily.
bullet Perform well the duties of his/her state.
bullet Look to his/her interior reform. 1

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The founder:

The founder of the Army of Mary is Marie-Paule Giguère (b. 1921) of Lac-Etchemin, Quebec.  From the age of 12, she has heard "an interior voice." She was married in 1944, had five children, and was separated from her husband in 1957. She placed her children in a boarding school and went to live with her mother. In 1958, she received, via her inner voice, instructions from God about her life mission. On 1971-AUG-28, at a pilgrimage at the shrine of Our Lady of Etchemin, she founded the Army of Mary. Four years later, Cardinal Maurice Roy, Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of the Church in Canada, issued a decree recognizing it as a "Pious Association." She is also the author of an autobiography "Life of Love."

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Subsequent developments:

1987: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith expressed concern about two books that had been circulated by the Army of Mary. They were by Marc Bosquart, and titled: "De la Trinité Divine à l’Immaculée-Trinité," and "Le Rédempteur et la Co-Rédemptrice." Cardinal Ratzinger stated that they contained "gravely erroneous doctrines," and authorized Cardinal Vachon, the Archbishop of Quebec, to take any needed actions up to and including suppression of the Army. A Committee of Enquiry claimed that the Army of Mary "doesn’t pray with the same words as others." In a press conference of 1987-MAY-7, Ms. Giguère claimed that she had ordered Bosquart's books withdrawn as soon as the Vatican condemned them. She denied that the Army prays differently from other Catholics.

1987-MAR-25: Cardinal Vachon revoked Roy's 1975 decree which had recognized the Army of Mary as a Pious Association. Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, ratified Cardinal Vachon's decision on MAY-4, stating that:

"The activities of the Army of Mary are not in conformity with the teachings of the Church, and that thus the goals of the Army of Mary do not correspond to the goals of the associations of the faithful provided for by the code of canon law."

The main points of conflict appeared to concern "... redemption, the Virgin Mary and reincarnation" which the Catholic Bishops of Canada regard as "profoundly at variance with the teaching and profession of the faith of the Catholic Church." 9 The Army unsuccessfully appealed in 1989 to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome.

1997: Marie-Paule's husband, Georges Cliche, died. This freed her to become a religious. She was unanimously elected Superior General of the Daughters of Mary -- one of the five organizations that she herself had founded.

1998: Bishop Campbell of Antigonish, NS, one of three Catholic bishops in Nova Scotia, secretly ordained priests affiliated with the Army of Mary, an action that was not well received among some clergy in his diocese.

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2000-FEB-29: In a letter, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, told:

"Canadian bishops it is time for them to warn parishioners that the movement can no longer be called 'Catholic' and should be banned from Church property." 2

2001-JUN-29: Ninety one of Canada's 93 active Catholic bishops condemned the Army of Mary as a heretical order and urged its adherents to quit. 3,4 They stated that

"The Army of Mary's ongoing activities and teachings pose dangers for the Catholic Church in Canada and to the faith of its members. In view of this, and of the continuing threat to the integrity and unity of the Catholic faith, the Bishops of Canada declare, and hereby inform all the Catholic faithful, that the Army of Mary, regardless of its claims to the contrary, is not a Catholic association." 9

They pointed out three areas where the Army's teachings are at variance from the church: redemption, the Virgin Mary, and reincarnation. Bishop Campbell of Antigonish and Eugene LaRocque of Alexandria-Cornwall in Eastern Ontario have defended the order. The Vatican later ratified the condemnation by the majority of bishops.

2001-AUG-15: The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops published the doctrinal note that they had written on JUN-29. 9

2001: Late in the year, the Army stated that they have 25,000 members, in 14 countries worldwide. 5

2007-JUL-11: The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a declaration excommunicating all members of the Army of Mary. The Army had been under investigation for six years. Pope Benedict XVI subsequently approved the action. It was publicly announced by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on 2007-SEP-12. 7

 The declaration stated, in part:

"Despite repeated warnings by the Bishops of Canada, including Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec City, members of the Army of Mary earlier this year participated in ordinations forbidden by and not recognized by the Catholic Church. The actions obliged the Congregation to issue the declaration, it states, because of 'the very grave situation' and given there was no 'hope of another solution'."

"The list of those members of the Army of Mary incurring excommunication include Father Jean-Pierre Mastropietro, for having attempted to perform ordinations; those claiming to have been ordained by him as deacons and priests; other members of the movement and its associated works who have entered into schism by participating in the ordinations despite an earlier warning issued by Cardinal Ouellet on 26 March 2007, and who remain 'determined to continue to associate with' the movement; and 'whoever knowingly and deliberately embraces' the heretical teachings of the Army of Mary. The declaration states the excommunications are 'latae sententiae', that is they were incurred automatically." 8

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Does Mother Mary claim to be the Virgin Mary?

Allegedly, "beginning in 1978, Guigère introduced herself as the mystical incarnation of Mary." 6 In her press conference on 1987-MAY-7, Ms. Giguère denied that she presented herself as the Virgin Mary. 1

According to the National Post:

"In his [1987] decree removing the movement's status as an official Catholic association, Cardinal Vachon cited a number of heretical references in its writings. The publications call Ms. Giguere 'the incarnation on Earth of the Virgin Mary,' 'the mystical incarnation of Mary' and 'mystical priest.' " 2

Army of Mary priest Pierre Mastropietro explained that Marie-Paule Giguère, (a.k.a. Mother Mary by her followers):

"... is fully enveloped by God. She prays every day, but her life is so attached to that of Mary's that she isn't Mary but she is Mary at the same time. If we try to explain it we'll change its meaning." 5

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  1. "The Army of Mary," web site at:
  2. "Bishop defends sect condemned by Vatican, Quebec," National Post, 2000-MAY-16, at:
  3. "Canada's Army of Mary isn't Catholic, Bishops say," at:
  4. "Doctrinal Note of the Catholic Bishops of Canada concerning the Army of Mary," 2001-AUG-10, at:
  5. Martin Patrquin, "Mary, Quite Contrary," Hour Magazine, 2001-OCT-4.
  6. Richard Foot, "Sharing Frank magazine an 'evil' act, Bishop says: Holy war of words," National Post, 2002-JAN-18, at:
  7. "Army of Mary excommunicated by the Vatican. Declaration comes after a six year investigation," Catholic News Agency, 2007-SEP-14, at:
  8. "Army of Mary incurs excommunications," Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops," 2007-SEP-12, at:
  9. "DOCTRINAL NOTE of the Catholic Bishops of Canada concerning the Army of Mary," CCCB, 2001-JUN-29, at:

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Copyright © 2002 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-JAN-23
Latest update: 2007-OCT-11
Author: B.A. Robinson

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