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Cardinals, bishops ask pope to dogmatically declare Mary ‘spiritual Mother’ in face of pandemic

Updated: May 28, 2020

The following article was originally published on Life Site News on April 15, 2020.

April 15, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinals and bishops representing each continent begged Pope Francis in an Easter letter to dogmatically proclaim Mary as “Spiritual Mother of all Peoples” as the world faces the “historic” coronavirus pandemic.

The letter states that the signatories made this same request of the Holy Father in August 2019, but felt the “pastoral and moral imperative” to appeal to him again as the “world faces exponentially greater disaster on personal, social, political, economic, and humanitarian aspects” because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“[B]ehind all these external events, a spiritual battle is taking place, more than ever, between good and evil, light and darkness, in the hearts of humanity,” they state.

“Here, the real battle must be fought. Humanity is in great need of conversion, and of supernatural help which can only come from the Lord Jesus, and from his Mother.”

The two cardinals and six bishops who signed the letter believe God is waiting for the Church “to dogmatically proclaim Mary as the ‘Spiritual Mother of all Peoples’, in a solemn declaration of her unique cooperation with Jesus in the Redemption, and her consequential roles in the distribution of grace and intercession for humanity, for which he will respond with a historic new outpouring of his Holy Spirit and the eventual grace of world peace.”

“Our Lord gave Peter the keys of the kingdom. We ask you, dear Holy Father, to use them now,” the letter stated, “to crown the Blessed Virgin Mary by proclaiming the great role that she played in God’s plan of Redemption, accomplished by the Risen Christ who we celebrate now in Easter. Surely, it will release great graces for today!”

The full text of the Easter letter to the Holy Father can be found here.

It was signed by: Mexico’s Cardinal Juan Sandoval, representing Central America; Nigeria’s Archbishop Felix Job, representing Africa; India’s Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, representing India and Asia; Scotland’s Bishop John Keenan, representing Europe; America’s Bishop David Ricken, representing North America; Argentina’s Bishop Antonio Baseotto representing South America; Archbishop Denys Raboula Antoine Beylouni, representing Syriac Catholics; and Lebanon’s Archbishop Chucrallah-Nabil E Hage, representing Maronite Catholics.

The request is significant because only when the pope dogmatically declares Mary as Mother of all Peoples will she be free to fully intercede for suffering humanity under that title, mariologist Dr. Mark Miravalle told LifeSiteNews.

Moreover, this dogma will recognize the three roles the Church traditionally understands as integral to Mary’s spiritual motherhood: Mediatrix of all graces, Advocate, and Co-redemptrix, he said.

“We desperately need it. ... I know many of the bishops who wrote this. It’s beautiful and appropriate,” added Miravalle, who holds the St. John Paul II Chair of Mariology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and is also a professor of mariology at Ave Maria University in Florida. 

“There’s a solid tradition that whenever the Church is in a crisis, it goes to Mary,” he said. “We need her full intercession now in a historic way. And we’re not going to get it unless we acknowledge her titles.” 

A dogma is a solemn proclamation of a doctrine and its purpose is to “bring greater appreciation and clarity” to that doctrine, explained Miravalle.

“In this case, it holds an even greater significance because her ‘titles are her functions’,” he said.  “These are not just honorary titles; these are functions of how Mary is mother to us, so when they are solemnly proclaimed it allows Mary to fully exercise these functions.”

The Church has proclaimed four Marian dogmas: that she is Mother of God, her perpetual virginity, her Immaculate Conception, and her bodily Assumption into heaven.

The dogmatic declaration of Mary as Mother of All Peoples would include recognition of her three “critical” roles: Mediatrix, “where she distributes all graces”; Advocate, “her role of intercession and protection,” and Co-redemptrix, “where she suffers with Jesus for us,” he told LifeSiteNews.

But while all three are part of “ordinary magisterial teaching,” Mary’s title of Co-redemptrix remains controversial.

“Some have mistaken it to imply [Mary’s] equality [with God], but that would be both heresy and blasphemy,” Miravalle said.

In fact, however, the title dates back to the fourteenth century, and refers to Mary’s “unique role” in Christ’s suffering, and that “what Jesus suffered in His body, Mary suffered in her heart,” he pointed out.

St. Teresa of Calcutta and St. Padre Pio are among the saints who referred to Mary as Co-redemptrix, Pope Saint John Paul II used the title seven times, and Pope Benedict XV said, “It is right to say that Mary together with Christ redeemed the human race,” Miravalle told LifeSiteNews.

Moreover, Mary’s recognition as the “perfect model for human suffering” is urgently needed today, he said.

“Mary’s unique role in the redemption needs to be acknowledged too because it gives our role in the redemption importance,” he said.

“Not that we’re ever on the same level as Our Lady, but we’re going through intense suffering right now, on many fronts, in the Church and in the world. We have to be reminded that suffering is redemptive, and Our Lady’s title of Co-redemptrix really underscores that,” Miravalle said.

“So if the Pope were to dogmatically declare that, it would help the world to know the uniquely Christian message that suffering— human suffering, not just divine suffering  — is redemptive,” he said. 

Catholic laity can follow the example of the prelates who sent this Easter letter, and write the Holy Father directly, Miravalle told LifeSiteNews.

It’s “classic Catholic precedence” for laity to petition the pope, he said, noting that from 1849 to 1950, 8,000,000 Catholics petitioned for the declaration of dogma of the Assumption. Eight million have likewise petitioned for the dogma of spiritual motherhood in the last decades, he said.

“It’s part of their responsibility, as the people of God, the vox populi, to bring this to the attention of the Holy Father, out of respect in humility, to crown Our Lady,” added Miravalle.

To sign a petition to Pope Francis asking for the proclamation of this fifth Marian dogma, go here.

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