Reprinted from Catholic News
Senior writer LARA PICKFORD-GORDON reports on a talk given by a visiting professor of Theology and Mariology.
Dr Mark Miravalle speaks at the book launch. At right are Prof Courtenay Bartholomew and Kenneth Gordon. Photo: Gerard-Paul Wanliss
Giving Mary the official title of ‘Co-Redemptrix’ may prompt a knee-jerk reaction among some who think this will be “too much” and suggest Mary is equal to Jesus. Dr Mark Miravalle, Professor of Theology and Mariology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, disagrees.
At the December launch of Professor Courtenay Bartholomew’s book, Mary Is the Co-Redemptrix at the Living Water Community, he presented a case to support a fifth dogma of Mary, as Co-Redemptrix.
Dr Miravalle is the president of Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici, a Catholic movement seeking the solemn papal definition of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Co-Redemptrix (but not co-equal), Mediatrix, and Advocate.
Miravalle made it clear at the start of his presentation the Church has never used co-redemptrix to mean that Mary is equal to Jesus because this would be heresy and blasphemy.
He provided an overview of Church history on Mary as Co-Redemptrix from being the “new Eve”, her participation in giving birth to Jesus and by the end of the first millennium she was seen as sharing in His suffering.
John the Geometer, a Byzantine monk in the 10th century said “Jesus and Mary shared everything in their hearts.” Miravalle said this was the first time the term Redemptrix appeared. St John Paul II said Mary was “spiritually crucified at Calvary and that her role as co-redemptrix does not cease with the glorification of her son”.
According to Miravalle since the 14th century and in doctrinal form since apostolic days, “God has willed that a woman would be intimately involved in the return of grace to the human family”.
Miravalle explained the early Fathers of the Church said God wanted to show his omnipotence over satan by taking three elements which led to loss of grace – a man, a woman and a tree – and using these to restore life. Jesus is the new ‘Adam’; Mary, the new ‘Eve’; and Calvary, the tree.
He made the point that the first example of the term “co-redemptrix” was in the 14th century, and in the 16th century at the Council of Trent, major theological scholar Alphonsus Salmeron “defended the co-redemptive title”.
From the 17th century onwards, Miravalle said there were 300 references to this. “By the 19th century, we have Papal magisterium from Leo XIII to Pope Francis talking about Mary’s unique role as suffering with Jesus.”
There are those who would call Mary just a “physical channel” but he warned against this thinking because “God does not use human beings; God does not use women as physical channels.”
There are four dogmas of the Church in relation to Mary: Mary is the Mother of God, Mary’s perpetual virginity, the Immaculate Conception, and the Assumption of Our Lady. Miravalle said a fifth doctrine, Mary as the Mother of man in the order of grace is the only doctrine of Mary that has not been defined.
He said a “good mother” did three fundamental things – suffers for her children, nourishes and forms them, and protects them. Miravalle explained, “What does our Lady do for us? She suffers, that’s her role as Co-Redemptrix; she nourishes, that’s her role as mediatrix of all graces; thirdly, she defends, that’s her role as advocate.”
He questioned if it was blasphemy when popes used “co-redeemer” in Christ to describe the laity. Miravalle paraphrased St Paul’s letter to the Colossians (1:24), which calls on believers “to make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His body which is the Church”. This can be done through prayers, offerings and sacrifices made to God. While no one can be as Jesus, the new Adam, or Mary, the new Eve, they can actively participate in the mysterious release of graces and redemption of others.
Miravalle commented, “If we can be called co-redeemers, are we going to deny Mary the ability to be called co-redemptrix? And can we not say Mary did more with Jesus than any other creature? Mary gave Jesus the body that saves us. ”
He contended that two things will happen with acknowledging Mary as co-redemptrix: the focus will go back to the cross, and people will be reminded “human suffering is redemptive…it has supernatural value”.
Miravalle added, “That’s why we can’t accept euthanasia; we can’t accept ending our lives for reason of pain because that can be when we do the most redeeming. Suffering by its very nature is most redemptive when it is united to the heart, sufferings of Jesus, and that is what ‘co-redemptrix’ says.”
In 1915, Cardinal Désiré-Joseph Cardinal Mercier (1851–1926) started a movement to solemnly define the fifth doctrine of Mary as Spiritual Mother, Co-Redemptrix, and Mediatrix of all graces.
By 1918, he got support from 300 bishops and hundreds of thousands of petitions asking for the definition. On December 1, 1950, the world’s leading mariologists gathered for a meeting and petitioned Pope Pius XII for the dogma.
Miravalle said the message of Fatima provided “a whole message of reparation and co-redemption” and 28 years later, in 1945, Our Lady appeared in Amsterdam as Our Lady of All Nations.
He read a passage from her message on May 31, 1954 in which she said only when she is proclaimed as co-redemptrix will there be world peace.
“The question can be asked, ‘Why do you need a dogma for world peace?’ and the answer is Jesus likes to acknowledge the truth about his mother and he wants us to acknowledge the truth,” Miravalle said. He encouraged Catholics to do their part in praying and petitioning for world peace.
Miravalle said Dr Bartholomew’s “outstanding” book contained elements not mentioned by other mariologists because the author “brought a scientific eye to an area of theology. It is extremely beneficial”.
Using a “research mind with a Marian heart,” he said the book examines “how private revelation can indeed confirm and in some way inspire a proper development of doctrine but always remaining humble, inferior to public revelation as definitively articulated by the magisterium of the Church.” He told attendees he would recommend Mary Is the Co-Redemptrix as required reading for his students at the university.
President Anthony Carmona attended the launch. The opening prayer was given by Fr Thomas Lawson OP, prior of the House of Immaculate Conception, St Finbar’s and the Moderator of the St Ann’s/St Martin’s/Holy Rosary/St Francis cluster; and Kenneth Gordon gave the vote of thanks and launched the book.
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