Commentary on Recent Statement from the Bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam in Response to a Letter of the CDF concerning the Lady of All Nations
Bishop Johannes Hendriks, Bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam, has issued a statement (Dec. 30, 2020) concerning a letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith which confirms its previous position of 1974 concerning the Lady of All Nations. In the 1974 statement, the Congregation stated that the supernatural character of the apparitions could not be established, and therefore invited the faithful at that time to refrain from making references to public devotion and the supernatural character of the apparitions. However, since 1974, the Congregation had significantly modified its own position and, in 1995, granted permission for public devotion to the Lady of All Nations after direct consultation with Congregation Prefect, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. This subsequently led to the official approval of public devotion by Bishop Bomers and auxiliary Bishop Punt in 1996. Six years later, in 2002, Bishop Punt approved, in essence, the supernatural character of the apparitions.
It is surprising, therefore, to hear that the Congregation is now returning to the 1974 non constat de supernaturalitate position, which designates that the supernatural character of the apparitions cannot be established at this time, in light of the significant positive developments after 1974, including repeated permission (1995) and documented allowance (1983) for the approval of public devotion by CDF Prefect, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later to become Pope Benedict XVI. The Lady of All Nations has not received a constat de non supernaturalitate condemnatory judgement in the 1974 CDF notification, and therefore should not be identified nor perceived as "false" apparitions.
It is even more puzzling that the Congregation refers now to some form of confirmation of a negative opinion of the apparitions and devotion by Pope St. Paul VI in early May of 1974, when from that time to the present, a period of 46 years, no official mention of a papal confirmation of the negative judgment on the supernatural character of the Amsterdam apparitions has ever been voiced by the Congregation, either officially or publicly. Moreover, the Congregation has offered no theological reasons for this reversal of the significant positive developments concerning the Lady of All Nations status and devotion over the past half century.
Yet another inconsistency with this new CDF instruction is the continued constat de supernaturalitate Church approved status of the mystical experiences of Akita, Japan, which issued from a wooden statue of the Lady of All Nations in a Japanese convent. Bishop John Ito issued his positive recognition of the supernatural character of the Akita events (1984) after documented consultation with the same Cardinal Josef Ratzinger as acting CDF Prefect.
Nonetheless, we respond in obedience to the instruction of the Congregation at this present stage of the journey concerning the Lady of All Nations apparitions, and from January 1, 2021 onwards, will cease all distribution of messages and references to the supernatural character of the apparitions, for as long as the Congregation maintains its present disciplinary position. The Prayer of the Lady of All Nations, along with the title, image, prayer days, and other forms of devotion may continue, according to the new instruction, as long as they do not presume to make a judgment about the authenticity of the apparitions.
It is probable that the principal theological concern with the reported Lady of All Nations messages centers upon the frequently referred to title and role of Our Lady as human “Co-redemptrix” with Jesus, the only divine Redeemer, as well as the request for the proclamation of a new dogma of Our Lady as “Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate.”
We, therefore, seek an open and transparent theological dialogue, as is so often encouraged by our Holy Father, Pope Francis, in situations such as these. We would like to initiate a public dialogue concerning the authentic magisterial teaching of the subordinate and singular role of the Mother of the Redeemer, with and under Jesus, in the work of Redemption, which is expressed in the title, “Co-redemptrix.” This Marian title has been repeatedly used by Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Pius XI, St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Sr. Lucia of Fatima, and numerous saints, bishops, theologians, and mystics, as it is deeply embedded within the Church’s Tradition, for over 500 years.
We also seek to open dialogue concerning the century old international Catholic movement founded by Cardinal Desire Mercier in 1915, which calls for a solemn papal definition or “dogma” of the role of Mary as Spiritual Mother of all humanity, grounded upon her unique human role with Jesus in the Redemption. This international Catholic movement has received the support of over 600 cardinals and bishops, and over 8 million faithful just within the last 25 years. A movement of this historic ecclesial magnitude should neither be ignored nor summarily dismissed.
The solemn proclamation of this Marian doctrine remains critically important to testify to unique role of the Immaculate Virgin with our divine Redeemer in the historic work of salvation, as the New Eve with the New Adam, and to allow her, through our free consent, to exercise her full intercession in her role as the Mother of All Peoples, in protecting the People of God and the world from the multiform evils and disasters which presently threaten our troubled world. This definition is also important because her humanity should form our humanity, and her example directly calls for our own human participation in the Redemption accomplished by Jesus. This is why a new and open theological dialogue about the Co-redemptrix role and its potential definition remains imperative.