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Current status of Mary:

Although the virgin Mary is rarely mentioned in the Bible, and although Protestant churches consider her to be a relatively minor biblical character, the Roman Catholic Church has long assigned her an elevated status. 

The Roman Catholic Church has historically taught two basic dogmas about Mary:

bullet 1. Mary is the Mother of God.
bullet 2. Perpetual Virginity: Mary was a virgin when Yeshua (Jesus) was conceived; this state continued throughout her life.

Two additional dogmas about Mary were infallibly proclaimed by two popes during the 19th and 20th centuries:

bullet 3. Immaculate Conception: Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary on 1854-DEC-8. Many Roman Catholics believe that this refers to Jesus' conception circa 5 to 7 BCE. In fact, it means that Mary herself was conceived free of sin before her birth circa 20 BCE.
bullet 4. Assumption of Mary: Pope Pius XII, in his Munificentissimus Deus (1950-NOV-1), defined that Mary, "after the completion of her earthly life was assumed body and soul into the glory of Heaven." That is, she was "taken up body and soul into heaven," at the time of her death. She is there "exalted as Queen of the Universe." 1

In addition, various popes and church councils have referred to Mary as co-redemptrix, mediatrix, and advocate:

bullet In ancient times:
bullet St. Antonius (circa 250 - 350): "All graces that have ever been bestowed on men, all came through Mary."
bullet St. Bernard (1090 - 1153): "[Mary is called] the gate of heaven, because no one can enter that blessed kingdom without passing through her."
bullet St. Bonaventure (1221 - 1274): "As the moon, which stands between the sun and the earth, transmits to this latter whatever it receives from the former, so does Mary pour out upon us who are in this world the heavenly graces that she receives from the divine sun of justice." 1
bullet 1750: Alphonsus Mary de Liguori, canonized as Saint Alphonsus in 1839, wrote a book "The Glories of Mary." It continues to be published today, under various church imprimaturs. Various chapters in the book are titled: "Mary our Help," "Mary our Mediatress," "Mary our Advocate," etc. 1
bullet 1935: Pope Pius XI gave the title co-redemptrix to Mary during a radio broadcast. 1
bullet 1964-NOV-21: The Chapter 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, passed by the Vatican Council II, and "Solemnly promulgated by Holiness Pope Paul VI" states, in part: 
bullet "Rightly, therefore, the Fathers see Mary not merely as passively engaged by God, but as freely cooperating in the work of manís salvation through faith and obedience. For as St. Irenaeus says, she being obedient, became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert with him in their preaching ...'death through Eve, life through Mary.' This union of the mother with the son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christís virginal conception up to his death" 2  
bullet "Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress and Mediatrix." 3
bullet "...the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix. This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator."

"For no creature could ever be counted as equal with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer. Just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by the ministers and by the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is really communicated in different ways to His creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source." (Footnotes deleted) 7

bullet 1985: Pope John Paul II recognized Mary as co-redemptrix" during a speech in Guayaquil, Ecuador. He said, in part, "Having suffered for the Church, Mary deserved to become the Mother of all the disciples of her Son, the Mother of their unity...In fact Maryís role as Co-redemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son." 4
bullet 1987-MAR-25: In his encyclical Redemptoris Mater, Pope John Paul II "referred to Mary as 'Mediatrix' three times, and as 'Advocate' twice." 1
bullet 1997-APR-9: During an audience Pope John-Paul II referred to the role of Mary during the crucifixion of Jesus: "Mary Ö co-operated during the event itself and in the role of mother; thus her co-operation embraces the whole of Christís saving work. She alone was associated in this way with the redemptive sacrifice that merited the salvation of all mankind. In union with Christ and in submission to him, she collaborated in obtaining the grace of salvation for all humanity...In Godís plan, Mary is the Ďwomaní (cf. John 2:4; John 19:26), the New Eve, united to the New Adam in restoring humanity to its original dignity. Her cooperation with her Son continues for all time in the universal motherhood which she enjoys in the order of grace. Trusting in this maternal cooperation, let us turn to Mary, imploring her help in all our needs." 1

Although Mary has been referred to on numerous occasions as co-redemptrix, mediatrix, and advocate, none have the force of an infallible papal declaration.

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Petition drive to promote an infallible statement:

Professor Mark Miravalle of Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH, initiated a formal petition drive in 1993 during a Marian conference at that university. It asks the Pope to make infallible statement that would officially elevate Mary, the mother of Jesus, to the status of co-redeemer. More than six million signatures from 148 countries have reached the Vatican as of the end of the year 2000, asking that Pope John Paul II infallibly declare a new dogma: "That the Virgin Mary is a co-redeemer with Jesus and co-operates fully with her son in the redemption of humanity." If this were done, "she would be a vastly more powerful figure, something close to the fourth member of the Holy Trinity and the primary female face through which Christians experience the divine." 3 Miravalle's petition has received support from Mother Theresa, 550 bishops, Cardinal John O'Connor and 41 other cardinals (including at least 12 cardinals in Rome). If the dogma is declared infallibly, it would pronounce Mary as "Co-Redemptrix [co-redeemer], Mediatrix [mediator] of All Graces, and Advocate for the People of God." It would require all Roman Catholics to believe that:

bullet Mary is co-redemptrix with Jesus. She participates in people's redemption.
bullet Mary is mediatrix and has the power to grant all graces.
bullet Mary is the advocate for the people of God and has the authority to influence God's judgments.

If the dogma is infallibly declared, many feel that, in the words of Father Rene Laurentin, it would be the equivalent of launching "bombs" at Protestants. Father Laurentin is a French monk and the world's leading Mary scholar. He believes that: "Mary is the model of our faith but she is not divine. There is no mediation or co-redemption except in Christ. He alone is God." Raising the status of Mary would further acerbate the split between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Ecumenical activity would be negatively affected. There is speculation that a schism might develop over the issue within the Roman Catholic church. There may be a renewed debate over the role of the pope's power in the church. 5,6

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  1. "Rome says Mary is Co-redeemer, mediator, advocate," Way of Life, at: 
  2. Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium: Dogmatic Constitution of the Church," Chapter 8, The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of god in the mystery of Christ and the Church, II, 56, Pages 380 & 381. Online at:
  3. Ibid II, 62, Pages  382 & 383.
  4. "Inside the Vatican," 1997-JUL, Page 23; as cited in Reference 3.
  5. J.J. Russell, "Millions petition pontiff to give Mary new status," The Toronto Star, 2000-DEC-23, Page A20.
  6. "The meaning of Mary: A struggle over her role grows within the church," Newsweek cover story, 1997-AUG-25.
  7. Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium: Dogmatic Constitution of the Church," Chapter 8, "The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of god in the mystery of Christ and the Church," III, 62. See:

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Copyright © 2000 to 2002 incl., by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-DEC-25
Latest update: 2002-FEB-9
Author: B.A. Robinson

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