Defending the Indefensible Again: Pope Francis’s Rejection of Mary’s co-Redemption
Fatima Perspectives #1363
In a homily on December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pope Francis not only rejected but mocked as “foolishness” the concept of Mary as co-Redemptrix: “When they come to us with the story of declaring her this [co-Redemptrix] or making that dogma, let’s not get lost in foolishness [tonteras].”
Even one Dave Armstrong, an indefatigable defender of the indefensible developments in this pontificate, citing the research of Marian theologian Mark Miravalle, admits that Pope John Paul II — ending a boycott of the traditional term since Vatican II — “used the term co-redemptrix on at least five occasions in the course of his papal teachings.” To quote the pertinent phrases from the papal statements collected by Armstrong:
- “Mary, though conceived and born without the taint of sin, participated in a marvelous way in the sufferings of her divine Son, in order to be Coredemptrix of humanity.” (General Audience of September 8, 1982)
- “To Our Lady — the Coredemptrix — St. Charles turned with singularly revealing accents.” (Angelus Address at Arona, November 4, 1984)
- “In fact, Mary’s role as Coredemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son.” (Address at the Marian shrine in Guayaquil, Ecuador, January 31, 1985)
- “May Mary our Protectress, the Coredemptrix, to whom we offer our prayer with great outpouring, make our desire generously correspond to the desire of the Redeemer.” (Palm Sunday and World Youth Day, March 31, 1985)
- “Birgitta looked to Mary as her model and support in the various moments of her life. She spoke energetically about the divine privilege of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. She contemplated her astonishing mission as Mother of the Saviour. She invoked her as the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Sorrows, and Coredemptrix, exalting Mary’s singular role in the history of salvation and the life of the Christian people.” (Commemoration of the sixth centenary of the canonization of St. Bridget of Sweden, October 6, 1991)
Of course, Mary is not to be seen as co-Redemptrix in the divine sense, but rather in the sense of Her unique and indispensable cooperation in the divine plan for the Redemption, which required that God Incarnate literally take His flesh from Her flesh — Her blood in His veins, Her chromosomes in His Body (which, by the way, is why Mary had to be conceived immaculately, without Original Sin). Yet Francis declares that it would be “foolishness” to declare that Mary, even in this limited sense, is co-Redemptrix.
Armstrong cites one Robert Fastiggi, a proponent of the co-redemption of Mary, who argues lamely that because the reference to “foolishness” comes six paragraphs after the reference to the term co-Redemptrix “Pope Francis does not say declaring Mary to be co-redemptrix is foolishness.” Please. Francis is referring back to that very title when he pronounces as “foolishness” the idea of “declaring her this or making that dogma…”
One who refuses to pretend that Francis did not say what he said is Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, whose statement in response situates the latest theological gaffe from Francis in the context, not only of this pontificate, but also the decades of drift and decay that have afflicted the Church since Vatican II:
“The tragic story of this failed pontificate advances with a pressing succession of twists and turns. Not a day passes: from the most exalted throne the Supreme Pontiff proceeds to dismantle the See of Peter, using and abusing its supreme authority, not to confess but to deny; not to confirm but to mislead; not to unite but to divide; not to build but to demolish. Material heresies, formal heresies, idolatry, superficiality of every kind….
“For more than six years now we have been poisoned by a false magisterium, a sort of extreme synthesis of all the conciliar misconceptions and post-conciliar errors that have been relentlessly propagated, without most of us noticing it….
“[I]n the course of these last decades, the Mystical Body has been slowly drained of its lifeblood through an unstoppable bleeding: the sacred deposit of faith has gradually been squandered, dogmas denatured, worship secularized and gradually desecrated, morality sabotaged, the priesthood vilified, the Eucharistic Sacrifice protestantized and transformed into a convivial Banquet…”
But, the good Archbishop added the note of hope of which this apostolate has always been at pains to remind the faithful: “the Immaculate Theotokos, ‘terrible as an army with banner unfurled’ [acies ordinate], will do battle to save the Church and will destroy the unfettered army of the Enemy that has declared war on her, and with him all the demonic pachamamas will return definitively to hell.”
Such is the promise of the inevitable triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, co-Redemptrix of fallen man.
Editor’s Note: While the focus of Mr. Ferrara’s article is not on a theological explanation of Our Blessed Mother’s title of Co-Redemptrix, we choose to take advantage of this moment to provide more insights regarding this profound – and inexhaustible – Mystery. Fr. William G. Most explains the following in his book Mary in Our Life (1954):
There are two stages in the Redemption. The first consists in Christ’s atonement and once-for-all acquisition of the entire treasury of all grace for mankind. This was accomplished through the whole life and death of our Savior, culminating on Calvary, and is called the objective Redemption. The second stage is the distribution of that forgiveness and grace to men, and it is called the subjective Redemption.
It is obvious at once that Mary co-operated in the objective Redemption, at least remotely, by being the Mother of the Redeemer. But did She also share immediately in the objective Redemption by serving in the role of the New Eve on Calvary itself? If She co-operated immediately in the objective redemption on Calvary, then what the Eternal Father accepted was a joint offering, made by the New Adam, and through Him, with Him, and subordinate to Him, by the New Eve. …
[T]he question is whether Mary also co-operated immediately in the objective Redemption. This would involve much more than being present on Calvary, and suffering at the sight of the pains of Her Son, or even offering up Her sufferings in union with Christ in the way that we ourselves aspire to do. Such offerings of the Christian faithful are very valuable, but they belong to the order of the subjective Redemption only. They do not constitute part of the price accepted by the Eternal Father.
In fact, Mary’s merits and sufferings were not merely those of a saintly but private person; they were those of a person appointed by God the Father to co-operate officially with the work of the Son. She shared in a joint work, just as the Old Eve had shared in the joint work of Original Sin.
Of course we do not thereby imply that the price paid by Christ Himself was in any way insufficient. Rather, we point out merely that the singular event of our Redemption was earned on two different titles – the one a perfect and completely adequate title, and the other of a lower order, quite insufficient of itself.
Thus the Redemption was truly parallel to the Fall: in both we have a head of the race, whose work alone was sufficient and necessary, joined by an inferior sharer, whose work alone would be definitely insufficient.
Pope St. Pius X gives priceless light on the problem we are investigating in his encyclical, “Ad diem illum.” After quoting a statement of St. Bonaventure that Mary would have much preferred to suffer in place of Her Son, he goes on: ‘Now from this common sharing of will and suffering between Christ and Mary, She merited to become most worthily the Reparatrix of the lost world and therefore Dispensatrix of all the gifts which Jesus gained for us…. [S]ince…She was associated by Christ with Himself in the work of human Redemption, She merited for us congruously what Christ merited condignly….’
Pope Pius X tells us in very precise terms that Mary was officially associated with Her Son even on Calvary – that the role of the New Eve extends even to the great sacrifice of Calvary.