Two Cardinals and Four Other Bishops Ask Pope Francis to Proclaim New Marian Dogma

Updated: May 29, 2020

This is a reprint of a recent article on La Stampa - Vatican Insider.

On August 22, 2019, the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, two Cardinals and four other bishops wrote an “open letter to Pope Francis” asking him to proclaim “the great role that the Virgin Mary played in God’s plan of Redemption.” (1) The two Cardinals are Juan Sandoval, the archbishop emeritus of Guadalajara, Mexico, and Telesphore Toppo, archbishop emeritus of Ranchi, India.  The other four signers are Archbishop Felix Job, archbishop emeritus of Ibadan, Nigeria; Bishop John Keenan of Paisley, Scotland; Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; and Bishop Antonio Baseotto, C.SS.R, the emeritus bishop of Argentina’s military ordinariate.

The six bishops recognize that there is much suffering in the world due to a lack of political, economic, and moral balance. They believe a great spiritual battle is going on between good and evil that requires help from the Lord, the angels, and the Mother of God. The six bishops are convinced that a dogmatic proclamation of the Virgin Mary’s “coredemptive role” and universal spiritual Motherhood will bring about “a historic new outpouring of the Holy Spirit” and allow the Blessed Mother “to fully exercise her maternal mediation on our behalf.”

The six prelates believe the new dogma will help to complete the Church’s teaching about Mary, which is already expressed by the four dogmas of her perpetual virginity, her dignity as the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, and her glorious Assumption body and soul into heaven. What is needed is a solemn affirmation of the Virgin Mary’s “human but crucial role in God’s plan of salvation, as the New Eve next to the New Adam, as the Spiritual Mother of all humanity.” 

The petition of the six bishops to define Mary’s coredemptive role is not the first time this has been proposed. During Vatican I (1869–1870), the French bishop, Jean Laurent, requested a dogmatic definition of Mary as Coredemptrix. The Council, though, did not believe the theology of Marian coredemption was sufficiently mature to make a formal statement. In the early twentieth century, the focus was more on Mary as the Mediatrix of all graces. In 1915, Cardinal Mercier of Mechelen-Brussels organized four separate petitions to Pope Benedict XV (r. 1914–1922) to define the Blessed Virgin as Mediatrix of all graces.  Benedict XVI in 1921  approved a feast for the Blessed Virgin Mary Mediatrix of all Graces for all the dioceses of Belgium and all other dioceses and religious congregations wishing to celebrate it. He stopped short, though, of defining Mary’s universal mediation of grace as a dogma.

From the 1920s through the 1950s Marian congresses held in Latin America, Canada, France, Spain, and the USA expressed support for a definition of Mary as Mediatrix of all graces.  After John XXIII (r. 1958–1963) announced the Second Vatican Council, 300–500 bishops requested either an affirmation or a definition of Mary’s universal mediation of grace and some 54 bishops requested a definition of Mary as Coredemptrix. John XXIII, however, did not want any new definitions made at the Council. The Blessed Mother is not referred to as Coredemptrix in chapter eight of Lumen gentium (which is on Mary). She is, however, referred to as Mediatrix in Lumen gentium, 62, but not Mediatrix of all graces.  The 1962 draft on Mary (which formed the basis for Lumen gentium, chapter eight of 1964) referred to Mary as the Mediatrix of all graces, and it referred to her as “Coredemptrix” in two footnotes. Because of ecumenical concerns, however, the footnotes to Mary as Coredemptrix were dropped, and the title, Mediatrix of all graces was changed to simply “Mediatrix.” 

Although Vatican II chose not to refer to Mary as Coredemptrix,, some theologians, such as Jean Galot, S.J and Georges Cottier, O.P., have argued that Lumen gentium affirms the doctrine of Marian coredemption without using the title, Coredemptrix (see Galot in La Civilità Cattolica [1994] III: 236-237 and Cottier, in L’Osservatore Romano, June 4, 2002). Pius XI (r. 1922–1939) was the first Pope to refer publicly to Mary as Coredemptrix, and John Paul II publicly called Mary “Coredemptrix” at least six times, and he called Mary “Mediatrix of all graces” at least seven times.  Benedict XVI also referred to Mary as “M