The Council and Co-redemptrix

This article is from Dr. Mark Miravalle's “With Jesus”: The Story of Mary Co-redemptrix, Queenship Publications, 2003, and can be downloaded for free on Mother of All Peoples.

On January 25, 1959, “Good Pope” John XXIII, now Blessed, announces his desire to call an ecumenical council. The working preparations for the Second Vatican Council soon commence. On June 18 of that year, a circular letter is sent from Rome to all cardinals, archbishops, bishops, and general superiors of Religious families, followed on July 18 by a letter to Catholic universities and faculties of Theology. The purpose of the letters is to request from the future Council Fathers suggestions for the themes that should be eventually treated at the Council itself. (1)

These suggested topics are obtained during the antepreparatory period completed by spring of 1960. (2) The Secretary of the antepreparatory council then compiles a summary of the petitions and proposals from the bishops and prelates. Among these petitions, there are approximately four hundred requests by bishops for a dogmatic definition of Our Lady’s mediation, which included her cooperation in the Redemption, and particularly her role as Mediatrix of all graces. (3) Approximately fifty bishops request a dogmatic definition of Mary specifically as the “Co-redemptrix.” (4)

It is reported that the highest number of petitions on any single issue that the future Council Fathers agree merit a conciliar statement is on Our Lady’s mediation; the second largest number of petitions seeks a condemnation of communism; and the third issue of greatest agreement is the need for a solemn dogmatic definition on the Mother’s role of universal mediation “with Jesus.” (5)

The later direction for Vatican II, which is announced by Blessed John XXIII on the Council’s opening day of October 11, 1962 (at that time, the feast of the Divine Maternity of Mary), will be “predominantly pastoral in character” and not dogmatic. Even so, the great quantity of “vota” or petitions for a dogmatic definition of the Mother’s Coredemption and mediation is historically significant, for it is evidence of how greatly the Council Fathers love the universal Mother and seek to profess the whole truth about her role in salvation history. (6)

The first draft or “schema” on the Blessed Virgin Mary is presented to the Council Fathers on November 23, 1962. The schema is prepared by a subcommission of theologians and titled, “On the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of Men.” (7) Little known is the fact that the documentation contained in this first schema from the Second Vatican Council provides a beautiful synthesis of the history of the doctrine of Mary as “Co-redemptrix,” from the New Eve doctrine of the Early Fathers to the rich teachings of the nineteenth and twentieth century papal Magisterium leading up to the Council.

In the section which refers to the various titles in which the cooperation of the Mother of God with Christ in the work of human Redemption is expressed, (8) the documentation offers the following substantiation of the legitimacy of the title of Co-redemptrix and its doctrine (which follows an extended notation in support of the New Eve tradition):

All these things developed from the Pontiffs and the theologians, and a terminology was created in which Mary is soon called the “spiritual Mother of men, Queen of heaven and earth”; in other ways, “New Eve, Mediatrix, Dispensatrix of all graces,” and indeed, “Co-redemptrix” . . . To that which pertains to the title, “Co-redemptrix,” and “Associate of Christ the Redeemer,” some things must be added.

Already in the tenth century, the title of “Redemptrix” was used: “Holy Redemptrix of the world, pray for us.” When in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, this familiar title was used, already an immediate cooperation of the Blessed Virgin in the work of our Redemption was recognized, and to the name, “Redemptrix” is added “co,” and therefore the Mother of God was called, “Co-redemptrix,” while Christ continued to be called, “Redeemer.” From that time to the seventeenth century, the title Co-redemptrix was brought into use not only in devotional works of piety and holiness, but also in a great number of theological tracts. (9) This also pertains to the Roman pontiffs, as it has occurred in certain texts of St. Pius X and Pius XI . . . . (10)

The schema notation goes on to mention how Pope Pius XII used formulas such as “Associate of the Redeemer,” “Noble Associate of the Redeemer,” “Loving Associate of the Redeemer” and “Associate in the divine work of Redemption” without the specific term, (11) but also how the help of Mary “cum Iesu” in the economy of salvation is frequently praised by the supreme pontiffs. It subsequently quotes Pope Pius XI using the Co-redemptrix title on December 1, 1933, and proceeds to cite further references in support of the Co-redemptrix doctrine by Popes Leo XIII, Pius XI, and Pius XII. Its documentation even refers back to Pius VI in the eighteenth century, who condemns the thesis that unless a title of Mary is not explicitly contained in Scripture then it cannot be believed, even though approved by the Church and incorporated into its public prayer (Auctorem fidei, 1794). (12)

With such extensive documentation for Co-redemptrix and its doctrine in the Church history and papal teachings, why then was the title not used in the final version of the Marian schema which later appeared as Chapter Eight of Lumen Gentium?