NCR: Pope Francis’ Guadalupe Homily and Mary “Co-Redemptrix”

Updated: May 29, 2020

The following is an article published by the National Catholic Register written by Dr. Mark Miravalle.

During his Dec. 12 homily at the Vatican Mass commemorating Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pope Francis made some spontaneous comments regarding the Marian title, “co-redemptrix” and a potential Marian definition which, coupled with somewhat misleading headlines and dubious summaries, have caused the most hotly-contested worldwide discussion about this traditional title for Our Lady and the doctrine that it signifies in recent history.

The actual words of the relevant lines of the homily of Pope Francis, transcribed from the video of his Dec. 12 homily given in Spanish during his non-scripted extemporaneous homily, are as follows:

Faithful to her Master, who is her Son, the unique Redeemer, she never wanted to take anything away from her Son. She never introduced herself as ‘co-redemptrix.’ No. ‘disciple’(Fiel a su Maestro, que es su Hijo, el único Redentor, jamás quiso para si tomar algo de su Hijo. Jamás se present como co-redentora. No. discipula).

Our Holy Father is completely accurate in stating that Mary never “introduced herself” as “co-redemptrix,” neither in the biblical contexts of the Annunciation, Visitation or Cana, nor in the historical events at Guadalupe, which was the subject of his homily. This, though, does not in itself deny the doctrinal truth and traditional legitimacy of the co-redemptrix title when it is used with its proper meaning: the unique participation of Mary in the historical redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ, the only divine Redeemer.

Our Holy Father is further most accurate when he states that “She [Mary] never wanted to take away anything from her Son.” Fortunately, when Pope St. John Paul II (and Pope Pius XI before him) repeatedly used the title “co-redemptrix” for Our Lady, he likewise did not seek to take anything from Jesus and give it to Mary, but rather to identify Mary’s unique cooperation in the redemptive work accomplished by Christ. The co-redemptrix title for Our Lady has been part of the Church’s Tradition since the 14th century, and is typically used correctly to identify Our Lady’s unequalled cooperation with and under Jesus Christ in the redemption by popes, saints, mystics, bishops, clergy, theologians and the faithful People of God. The extraordinary lineup of recently canonized saints who have legitimately referred to Mary as the co-redemptrix include St. Pio of Pietrelcina, St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, St. Josemaría Escrivá, St. John Henry Newman and, once again, Pope St. John Paul II. The great Fatima seer, Sister Lucia, uses and sublimely explains the co-redemptrix title for Mary on seven occasions in her final writing, Calls from the Message of Fatima.

The co-redemptrix title seeks to represent, in one term, the Church’s official doctrine of Mary’s unrivaled participation in the redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ, the sole Divine Redeemer. The official and undeniable Marian doctrine of the Church is repeatedly taught at the Second Vatican Council (Lumen Gentium, 56, 57, 58, 61) and by the papal magisterium of the last three centuries.

Our Lady’s cooperative role with Jesus in the work of redemption is theologically based on the central Catholic principle of “participation” where we, as disciples of Jesus, truly share in his divine life of grace, but without adding or subtracting anything from Jesus himself. Our Lady’s role as co-redemptrix is the perfect human model for all Christians to likewise participate in Jesus’ great work of redemption, in properly responding to the words of St. Paul to “make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of his body, which is the Church (Colossians 1:24),” or as Pope St. John Paul II instructs us, to be “co-redeemers in Christ.”

Our Holy Father does strongly confirm in his Dec. 12 homily the legitimacy of the title, “mother of all,” which has been proposed over the last century as the overall title and doctrine for a potential Marian definition. Currently, none of the existing four dogmas (Mother of God, Perpetual Virginity, Immaculate Conception, Assumption) ref