The two articles which follow, by Bishop Joseph Danlami Bagobiri and Dr. Judith Gentle, were recently presented, March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, in Rome at the Inside the Vatican Forum’s Marian Day of Dialog on the Fifth Marian Dogma. – Ed.
“THE SENSUS FIDELIUM” of Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces and Advocate of the People of God – a Nigerian Perspective of the Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici Movement
Since the launching of the “Voice of the People for Mary Mediatrix” in May 1993, as a popular movement of the People of God from the five continents of the world praying and petitioning the Vicar of Christ to papally define the fifth Marian Dogma of Our Lady as “the spiritual Mother of all Peoples”, in her three motherly roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces and Advocate, a lot of good things have been happening in the Church and in the world as a result of this endeavour. I became a part of this movement not long after assumption of Episcopal responsibility for the See of Kafanchan in 1995 and had participated in two international conferences devoted to in-depth theological reflection on the proposed dogma in Rome 1997, and at Fatima in 2005. I am particularly edified by the contribution of this movement to the enrichment of the content of Mariology and consequently, vibrant Faith-life in the church. I am also very happy with the prospects that this holds for the Church both now and in the future. My contribution therefore at this “Day of Dialogue” is not going to be theological in nature (because a lot has been achieved already as seen in the two volumes on Thelogical Fundations for the definition of the Dogma). Rather, I wish to share the joy and appreciation of many on this dogma, which I personally experienced each time I was invited to make a presentation on this topic during Marian conferences (at diocesan and regional level) or at the celebrations of some of the Liturgical feasts in honour of Our Lady.
Since these three titles of our Lady belong to the ordinary Magisterium of the Church, many of the faithful within our region are quite familiar with them to the extent that some expressed shock in hearing that there has been no formal definition on them as a dogma in the Church. One of those who expressed such concern was a lawyer who had her Chambers named “The Mediatrix”. She looked rather disappointed to hear that these three titles of Our Lady, which had been used severally by top ecclesiates and are found in many works of the Saints and official Church documents – not excluding the Second Vatican Council, are yet to enjoy a formal papal definition. Most Catholics especially those in Marian societies such as: Our Lady Queen of all Hearts, the Legion of Mary, the “Our Lady of Fatima Block Rosary Crusade”, the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary etc, do have recourse to our Lady under these three titles which highlight her universal mediation for humanity.
The purpose of this submission is to state that from my practical experience, the fact of Our Lady’s mediation in these three dimensions is to a large extent is already a “living reality” in the lives of many within our environment. And if this is what in official church parlance is described as the sensus fidelium – which is always a necessary requirement, or in other words a fertile soil for the definition of a dogma in the catholic Church, then we can without hesitation lend our voice to those of many, that this is the time “the kairos moment” for the definition of the fifth Marian Dogma. As those with a sense of history in the definitions of dogmas in the Church have been quick in telling us: Every new dogma should rightly be seen as the child not only of authority, but also of love, of the love of the fellowship of the faith of the heart of the praying Church…..There is therefore no piece of dogmatic knowledge which is the knowledge of individuals and not at the same time an experience and love of many in the Holy Spirit (see pg xxii on Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate – The theological foundations).
THRUST OF PRESENT ENDEAVOR
The present dialogue here in Rome should do the following: