Our Lady, Ecumenism, and the Dogma



The subject of this theme is of such profound importance that it behooves us all to redouble our efforts to remove any and all obstacles to the action of the Holy Spirit that persist in ourselves and in the whole community of the Church. By the grace of God we have received from the Second Vatican Council some enlightenment and clarification on the Blessed Virgin Mary, on her function in the Plan of Salvation and on her relationship with the Church. These teachings are to be found at the end of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) following upon the teachings on the mystical and hierarchical nature of the Church and teachings on the Laity and Religious. The Holy Spirit obviously influenced many theologians and especially the Fathers of the Council to promulgate these teachings on Our Lady to the People of God. I have continued to express my thanks to the Blessed Trinity for the gift of this teaching.


However, while I deeply respect the very valuable work and effort that the Fathers put into the Council, with all due deference to them, I must confess that I found it difficult to repress feelings of dissatisfaction and a sense of something seriously lacking in the procedures and circumstances leading up to the final document.


For that reason I was all the more delighted when I heard, two years ago, about the Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici movement to proclaim the dogma that the Blessed Mother is Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces and Advocate. With a grateful heart I regard this movement as God’s Providence acting to make up for the insufficiency of the teaching on Mary, the cause of which is to be found in the excessive caution of the Council Fathers. As human beings we cannot completely understand the will of the Holy Spirit. It must be said therefore that being human, with all the limitations that it entails, even though they were Council Fathers nonetheless they could not interpret the will of the Holy Spirit in a perfect and faultless manner. What I have to say now is premised on that assumption. I have already pointed out that I was dissatisfied with the document on Mary both in its content and in the procedures by which it was approved and promulgated. The following are the reasons for my dissatisfaction:


1. First of all, the draft prepared by the Preparatory Theological Commission was presented to the Council in the form of a separate and independent Constitution on the Blessed Virgin Mary. However, having been subjected to many vicissitudes of fortune, it was finally reduced to forty articles and tacked on, so to speak, to the Constitution of the Church (the vote for and against its integration with the Constitution on the Church was 1,114 FOR, 1,074 AGAINST, and 5 INVALID). Normally, near consensus of over 90% was achieved in the voting on most issues brought before the general assembly of the Council, but I have heard that this was the first time since the inauguration of the Council that the voting was split down the middle. I personally felt a sense of great loss that the document on the Blessed Virgin Mary designed by the Preparatory Theological Commission as a separate and independent Constitution was not so decided on and promulgated.


2. Secondly, looking at the document which was finally promulgated, I was saddened when I heard the details of how the use of the title of Mediatrix for Our Lady was decided upon. It was reported that it was with great reluctance that the title Mediatrix was recognized, to say nothing of the title of Coredemptrix.


3. Finally, in spite of Pope Paul VI’s clearly and strongly expressed desire that the title of Mother of the Church should be given to Mary, his wish was ignored by the Council Fathers. Because of this, the Pope himself, on November 21, 1964, on the last day of the third session of the Council, on the feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of Mary, having solemnly approved and promulgated the Constitution on the Church, he then, at that same location by his Motu Proprio, formally declared Mary to be the Mother of the Church. I clearly remember the displeasure I felt towards the Council Fathers when I received the news of the Pope’s action.


It is abundantly clear that the reason for the hesitant and conciliatory attitude of the Council Fathers was the fear that the doctrine that Jesus is the sole Mediator might be compromised and that strong emphasis of Mary’s role in our redemption might prove to be a handicap, then certainly a cause of bad feeling among our separated brethren.

As far as the Korean Catholic Church is concerned there is absolutely no problem with the first point, namely that Jesus Christ is the sole Mediator between God and humankind. There is not one single Korean Catholic who harbors any doubts about this basic doctrine. I would go further and question the possibility that there could exist a single Catholic on the face of the earth who would deny or doubt the truth of this revelation. If the Council Fath