The following presentation was given at the Inside the Vatican Day of Dialog on the Feast of the Annunciation. –Asst. Ed.
Archbishop A. M. Chinnappa DD, SDB
Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore, India
25. 03. 2010
Feast of Annunciation, Rome
1. Why this is precisely the appropriate time to solemnly declare the fifth Marian Dogma?
The development of the doctrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Spiritual Mother of all humanity has its origins in Scripture and in the ancient Church. At Calvary with the words of the crucified Saviour to Mary and to John, “Woman, behold your Son… Behold your Mother” (Jn 19: 26-27), Jesus gives all humanity his mother to be, as the Second Vatican Council clearly teaches, “a mother to us in the order of grace” (Lumen Gentium, 61). The early Church saw the Mother of the Lord as the “New Eve”, the woman who uniquely cooperated with Jesus in the work of Salvation. By the second century, St. Ireneaus declared of Our Lady that through her obedience, she became “the cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race” (Ad. Haer. III).
The co-redemptrix doctrine continues to develop with major contributions from the Byzantine monk, John the Geometer (10th Century) and St. Bernard of Clairvaux and his disciple Arnold of Chartres (12th Century) with the understanding of Mary “co-dying” and being “co-crucified” with Jesus, and the inseparability of Son and Mother in the work of Redemption. By the 14th century, the term “co-redemptrix” is being used to express the unique though entire secondary and subordinate participation of Mary with Jesus in his historic work of redemption. Even the great Tridentine theologian, Alphonsus Salmeron defended the Marian titles of Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate back in 16th Century. The general role of “Spiritual Mother” and the specific titles of Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate constitute authentically Catholic titles that are undeniable part of our rich Catholic Tradition.
The Second Vatican Council explicitly and clearly taught the doctrinal role of Marian Coredemption, Mediation, and Advocasy in Lumen Gentium, nembers 58, 61 and 62. Lumen Gentium 58 identifies her unique coredemptive role with Jesus at Calvary, stating that she “lovingly consented to the immolation of the victim born of her”, and Lumen Gentium 62 rightly recognizes the titles, “mediatrix” and “Advocate”, as “taken up into heaven, she did not lay aside her saving office”… “but by her manifold intercession continues to intercede for the gifts of eternal life” (LG62).
John Paul II was a true champion of Marian Coredemption, having used the title “co-redemptrix” on six occasions and having taught the doctrine of coredemption on numerous occasions. His homily in Ecuador in 1985 profoundly summarizes his teaching when he states that Mary was “crucified spiritually with her crucified son” and that “her role as Co-redemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her son” (Guayaquil, Jan 31, 1985). Pope Benedict has likewise taught the Coredemption doctrine, particularly in his World Day of the Sick Address of 2008 and in other addresses, where he unequivocally states Mary’s unique sharing in Christ’s redemptive suffering.
2. Why do I believe now is the right time to have a papal definition of this Marian truths?
First of all, I see a Papal definition as a great aid to ecumenism. A Papal definition will make clear once for all that Catholics do not adore Mary, but venerate in light of her unique cooperation with the Lord. This will greatly clarify the ecumenical dialogue regarding her subordinate but exalted role with Jesus, once it is stated by the Church’s highest authority, the Vicar of Christ.
Secondly, the number of petitions that has been sent to the Holy See over the over 90 year history of this Church call for the fifth Marian dogma has totaled well over 800 Cardinals and Bishops petition since the time of the originator of the petition, the late Cardinal Mercier of Belgium, and over 7 million petitions from the faithful ranging from 170 countries. This manifestation of the sensus fidelium is remini