The Lady of All Nations, the CDF, and "Who Once Was Mary"
Dr. Mark Miravalle
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father,
send now Your Spirit over the earth.
Let the Holy Spirit live in the hearts of all nations,
that they may be preserved
from degeneration, disaster, and war.
May the Lady of All Nations, [who once was Mary]
be our advocate. Amen.
In response to a letter of inquiry from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines Doctrinal Commission, Archbishop Angelo Amato, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stated the following in a letter of 20 May, 2005 in reference to Devotion to the Lady of All Nations and the brief clause "who once was Mary" (which is contained in the "Prayer of the Lady of All Nations"):
With regard to the devotion known as "Lady of All Nations" and the Marian apparitions experienced by the late visionary Ida Peerdeman, I wish to advise Your Excellency that although the said apparitions have received approval from His Excellency, the Most Rev. Joseph Maria Punt, Bishop of Haarlem (Holland), in his Communications of 31 May 2002, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has expressed concern regarding one particular aspect of that devotion whereby official prayers invoke the Blessed Virgin as Lady of All Nations "who was once Mary."
In fact, this Dicastery, in a letter to His Excellency, The Most Rev. Francois Bacque, Apostolic Nuncio to the Netherlands, has indicated that Marian devotion must be nourished and developed in accordance with the indications given by the Holy Father in "Redemptoris Mater" and "Rosarium Virginis Mariae" and not according to private apparitions nor according to a "new" name of Mary, such as Lady of All Nations "who was once Mary."
...Therefore, Your Excellency is requested to take into consideration the above mentioned advisory and inform the members of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith does not permit any Catholic community of Christ's Faithful to pray to the Mother of God under the title of "Lady of All Nations" with the added expression "who was once Mary."
The following points of fact must be kept in mind for a proper understanding of Archbishop Amato's letter.
1. The letter begins with the direct acknowledgement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) that the Lady of All Nations apparitions have received local ecclesiastical approval from the local bishop, Bishop Josef Maria Punt. The CDF consistently instructs that the responsibility of discernment and judgement concerning the supernatural quality of any reported private revelation lies with the authority of the local bishop.
2. The CDF has concern only with "one particular aspect of the devotion" where the Blessed Virgin is invoked with the clause "who once was Mary." The devotion to the Lady of All Nations remains approved by the local bishop, and the overall prayer, excepting this clause, which petitions the Lord Jesus Christ to send the Holy Spirit down upon the earth in prevention of "degeneration, disaster, and war" likewise remains approved.
3. The CDF specifically prohibits any "Catholic Community of Christ's faithful" from praying to the Mother of God under the title of "Lady of All Nations" with the added title "who once was Mary." This refers to public or community prayer by a body of Christ's faithful. The CDF does not specifically refer to the private praying of the prayer.
4. The CDF Secretary's apparent doctrinal concern regarding the brief clause "who once was Mary" lies in contrast to the fact that the Lady of All Nations prayer has been granted the official "Imprimatur" (which testifies to Catholic doctrinal orthodoxy) by approximately seventy cardinals and bishops throughout the world. No specific rationale, theological nor pastoral, was given in the letter for the prohibition of the clause.
5. The clause "who once was Mary" is understandable in a simple and straightforward manner. "The Lady of All Nations, who once was Mary" refers to the historical beginnings of the spiritual Mother of all nations and peoples, who was first the humble Virgin of Nazareth. Mary's "yes" at Nazareth led to her eventual role with Jesus at Calvary, where she was given by her Crucified Son as spiritual mother to all nations and peoples as conveyed in the words, "Woman, behold your son ...behold, your Mother" (Jn. 19:25-27). The phrase, therefore, refers to the new dignity that Mary now deserves in light of her role of coredemption with and under Jesus Christ, the divine Redeemer, as conveyed in the title, "Lady of All Nations," but is also mindful of her humble historical beginnings as Mary of Nazareth, who was called to daily cooperate with the saving work of her Son.
We could use the simple analogies, "Pope John Paul II, who once was Karol" or "Pope Benedict XVI, who once was Joseph," or even the scriptural examples, "St. Peter, who once was Simon," or "St. Paul who once was Saul." Another analogous example would be the following. Ann, a young woman, marries John Smith, and becomes a wife and mother of many children with the new title of "Mrs. Smith." In this case, you would have a new title with a new role of wife and mother of many, but the same woman. So it is with the "Lady of All Nations, who once was Mary" ---new title, new role, same woman.
The reference to the earlier name identifies the historical beginnings of the individual, but the second name properly acknowledges the new respect and dignity that the person now deserves in light of their cooperation with God's grace. The clause's meaning can also be clarified with the insertion of the word, "Lady of All Nations, who once was [known] as Mary" (for an extended explanation of the clause, see article, Clarification of Topics Relating to the Apparitions of the Lady of All Nations, Amsterdam, 2004, n. 2, www.de-vrouwe.net).
Nonetheless, obedience must be our response, as obedience to legitimate Church authority is always most pleasing to Our Lord and to the Lady of All Nations herself, even at times of confusion and conviction. The call to obedience is also the message of Bishop Punt of Haarlem/Amsterdam, who originally granted ecclesiastical approval to the apparitions. Through his Advisory Commission Regarding the Lady of All Nations, Bishop Punt has requested "the authorities of this devotion to respect the pastoral concern of the Congregation by leaving out or praying silently the clause during public prayer until further notice" (see letter, The Lady of All Nations ...Who once was Mary?, Position of the Bishop of Haarlem, Msgr. Dr. Jozef Marianus Punt, August 8, 2005, www.bisdomhaarlem.nl). Along with the call for obedience, the Bishop also encourages legitimate dialogue, which can provide positive and fruitful input concerning the devotion in specific and the overall ongoing Marian dialogue in general. This Marian dialogue launched by this issue should also include the valuable contributions of bishops, clergy, theologians and the "sensus fidelium," the common consensus of the faithful, which should be offered to the CDF in their ongoing evaluation.
As stated in the Advisory Commission Statement from the Diocese of Haarlem/Amsterdam, Bishop Punt has contacted Archbishop Amato and requested further clarification from the Holy See on this issue. Until further clarification from the Holy See is given, let us proceed in peace and in obedience, united in prayer for a positive outcome for this God-given devotion to the Lady of All Nations, its supernaturally revealed prayer, and the fulfillment of its petition for the descent of the Holy Spirit to prevent the ever-increasing "degeneration, disaster, and war" that have come to identify our present times. As the statement from the Advisory Commission of Amsterdam concludes: "In all this, the Bishop also sees a positive side. With this discussion, a deeper dialogue is launched. Behind this clause, given after the proclamation of the Dogma of Our Lady's Assumption, lies a fundamental question: Who truly is Mary in God's plan of salvation? What is Her role in the coming of the Holy Spirit? Who is She to be for this time and for this world?..."
Dr. Mark Miravalle
Professor of Theology
Franciscan University of Steubenville
August 11, 2005
Dr. Mark Miravalle
http://www.catholic.org OH, US
Dr. Mark Miravalle - Professor of Theology, 740 946-7777
Lady Nations Once Mary
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