Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mary Co-redemptrix

The movement to to apply the title of Co-redemptrix to Mary is still alive and well. Spearheading the effort is a group called Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici ("The Voice of the People for Mary Mediatrix"), who assert that Mary's role in the unfolding salvific ministry of her son was innermost and too involved to settle for her status as just saint. They are pushing to attach the title "Co-redemptrix" to her saintly standing, which they feel in no way infringes upon the divinity of her son, Jesus Christ. Over a decade ago supporters of this dogma presented Pope John Paul II with a letter outlining their affirmations:

"When the Church invokes Mary under the title, "Co-redemptrix", she means that Mary uniquely participated in the redemption of the human family by Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. At the Annunciation (cf.Lk.1:38) Mary freely cooperated in giving the Second Person of the Trinity his human body which is the very instrument of redemption, as Scripture tells us: "We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb.10:10).

And at the foot of the cross of our Saviour (Jn.19:26), Mary's intense sufferings, united with those of her Son, as Pope John Paul II tells us, were, "also a contribution to the Redemption of us all" (Salvifici Doloris, n.25). Because of this intimate sharing in the redemption accomplished by the Lord, the Mother of the Redeemer is uniquely and rightly referred to by Pope John Paul II and the Church as the "Coredemptrix."

It is important to note that the prefix "co" in the title Coredemptrix does not mean "equal to" but rather "with", coming from the Latin word cum. The Marian title Coredemptrix never places Mary on a level of equality with her Divine Son, Jesus Christ. Rather it refers to Mary's unique human participation which is completely secondary and subordinate to the redeeming role of Jesus, who alone is true God and true Man."


While I can understand the rationale of Mary Co-redemptrix on behalf of Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici, I think applying that title is both misleading and theologically unsound. I accept (and defend) the notion that Mary is THE greatest of all saints, and holds a unique status in Catholic spirituality. Through her was born the Redeemer (Theotokos), and undoubtedly she played a major role in facilitating the salvation of mankind. I believe I can pray to her so that she, in turn, can pray for me. But I have difficulty accepting the notion that Mary is somehow a complement or supplement in the direct salvation of my soul, which is what the fifth dogma would imply. To do so would indicate that Jesus Christ's divinity is somehow incomplete. Many of the supporters of Mary Co-redemptrix rebuttal by stating that "Co-redemptrix", if properly understood, means "she who buys back with [the redeemer]."

It's my conviction - and by all means correct me if I'm wrong - that there is only one Redeemer, One God, and One Trinity. And while I honor Mary as a saint unlike any other, the differences between her and God is still God, and God alone is the sole judge of my actions. Redemption and salvation belong to Him exclusively, and no co-pilot is needed when he is capable of handling that job just fine by hinself.

12 comments:

Thom said...

Hear, hear!

If we're not careful, some of the Christian "goddess cults" of the Middle Ages will see a revival!

ukok said...

Tom, perhaps it would help you to understand this better if you read some of the documents at the following site?

http://www.catholic-pages.com/DIR/coredemptrix.asp

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Tom: Not sure about that group. I agree your interpretations are correct if this group is making it sound like Mary is a member of the the Trinity.

However, Mary does have a unique and powerful role to play as Intercessor beyond all others.

Tracy said...

I don't know nearly enough to say yes or no but this is some good food for thought that you have given me.. so thanks!!

Shirley said...

"When the Church invokes Mary under the title, "Co-redemptrix", she means that Mary uniquely participated in the redemption of the human family by Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour."

I think you may be reading too much into this.

"But I have difficulty accepting the notion that Mary is somehow a complement or supplement in the direct salvation of my soul, which is what the fifth dogma would imply. To do so would indicate that Jesus Christ's divinity is somehow incomplete."

Accepting Mary as a compliment to the salvation of our souls in no way takes away from or undermines the divinity of Christ. Mary does not judge our actions or hand out redemption; she simply leads us to her son, The Redeemer. Just as He came to us through her, we can go to Him through her; everything we do through Mary can lead us only to Him. God didn't need to come to us through her; He chose her,and when we go to Mary, we go to God through her. Her sole purpose is to bring us to Him. This makes her, in my mind, the Co-redemptrix; she does not take His place, but rather takes us to Him.

Tom in Vegas said...

Shirley-

Thank you for your thoughtful comments:0)

co: A prefix added to the start of a word. Indicates that "with" or "together."

Redemtrix: Is the feminine agent of redeemer.

These definitions are derived from mainstream English lexicons.

If you bring these two words together, you have a title that is theologically antonymic. Mary, in her saintly status, does NOT compliment God in anyway because God is a perfect, incomprehensible whole. He is the Great "I AM", not the great "we are." She is truly the greatest of all saints, but this does not mean she redeems with the One Redeemer.

If we want to attach new titles or terminologies to Mary that more clearly define her status, then we must choose expressions that do not blur the distinct differences between her and her son.

paramedicgirl said...

Tom, you should read the Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Liquori. You will fully understand Mary's unique role in the Church and why she is (unofficially) given the title of co-redemptrix. Many of the saints, including St. Alphonsus, refer her by this title. I can't recommend the book enough.

Tom in Vegas said...

PG-

I'm on it. I will look for the book this weekend. We have a rather good size Catholic bookstore here in (of all places) Vegas. I haven't been there in years since I buy most of my books on-line. THANK YOU for the recommendation and to Shirley for the insight:0)

Melody said...

Tom, the last two paragraphs of your post sum up my feelings exactly. A lot of people would disagree with me, but I seriously question that we need the title "Coredemptrix" promulgated as a dogma, when we have lived with the status quo for 2000 years.

Shirley said...

"no co-pilot is needed when he is capable of handling that job just fine by hinself."
Think of it this way; it is not God that needs a co-pilot, it's us.

ignorant redneck said...

I would, without a moments hesitation, go Orthodox if the Church adopted the title 'Co-Redemptrix".

My thinking would be that an anti-pope had control of the see of Rome, and had entered into heresy.

I would wait until a valid pope was elected and removed this from the body of Christian dogma.

Tom in Vegas said...

Shirley-

That I can go with:0). Mary co-piloting with us is quite different than co-redeeming with Jesus.

IR-

I'd hate to lose you, my friend, over something like this to the Orthodox (say, aren't they trying the same thing?). I don't think this Co-Redemptrix thing will ever make it to dogma anyway.