A May Gift for Our Mother: A Letter to Our Holy Father
By Dr. Mark Miravalle
Professor of Theology and Mariology
Franciscan University of Steubenville
On June 3, 2006, His Eminence, Telesphore Cardinal Toppo of Ranchi, India was received in private audience by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. During the audience, Cardinal Toppo formally presented to His Holiness a petition on behalf of approximately forty cardinals and bishops for the solemn papal definition of Our Lady’s doctrinal role as the Spiritual Mother of all Peoples under its three essential aspects as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate.
This monumental presentation to our Holy Father was the fruit of a 2005 international Marian symposium on Marian Coredemption which was conducted at Fatima and co-sponsored by six cardinals: their Eminences, Edouard Cardinal Gagnon of Canada; Telesphore Cardinal Toppo of India; Luis Cardinal Aponte Martínez of Puerto Rico; Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil of India; Ernesto Cardinal Corripio Ahumada of Mexico; and Ricardo Cardinal Vidal of the Philippines. The participating cardinals and bishops from all parts of the world discussed Our Lady’s privileges as the Co-redemptrix of humanity with and under Jesus Christ, our divine Redeemer, and her subsequent roles as Mediatrix of all graces and universal Advocate for humanity. The symposium led to the formulation and signing of a formal petition by the cardinals and bishops present to our Holy Father for the proposed fifth Marian dogma of Our Lady’s role as Spiritual Mother of all humanity and its three unique maternal functions.
The formal petition presented to Pope Benedict XVI in the name of these cardinals and bishops also specified that the solemn papal definition of Our Lady’s spiritual motherhood would constitute a significant contribution to the Church’s mission of ecumenism. The proposed papal definition would clearly specify on the highest level of Church authority, and with the greatest theological precision, that the human participation of Mary Most Holy in the work of Redemption is completely subordinate and dependent upon the role of Jesus Christ, who alone as our divine and human Redeemer could satisfy God’s infinite justice and remove the true burden of sin. This solemn declaration and clarification would end any mistaken notion that the title, “Co-redemptrix,” which popes, saints, and Church writers have used for Our Lady for over 600 years, places Mary on a level of equality with Jesus Christ, but would rather explain that it denotes her unique cooperation with Jesus in the work of Redemption.
Most recently, our beloved Holy Father beautifully articulated the Church doctrine of Our Lady’s Coredemption in his 2007 Post-Synodal Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis. Here Pope Benedict quotes the Second Vatican Council’s principal teaching on Marian Coredemption (Lumen Gentium, 58), and confirms that Our Mother was “completely involved in the redemptive mission of Jesus”: Mary is the great Believer who places herself confidently in God’s hands, abandoning herself to his will. (102) This mystery deepens as she becomes completely involved in the redemptive mission of Jesus. In the words of the Second Vatican Council, “the blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son until she stood at the Cross, in keeping with the divine plan (cf. Jn 19:25), suffering deeply with her only-begotten Son, associating herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of the victim who was born of her.
Finally, she was given by the same Christ Jesus, dying on the Cross, as a mother to his disciple, with these words: ‘Woman, behold your Son.’” (103) From the Annunciation to the Cross, Mary is the one who received the Word, made flesh within her and then silenced in death. It is she, lastly, who took into her arms the lifeless body of the one who truly loved his own “to the end” (Jn 13:1). ...She is the Immaculata, who receives God’s gift unconditionally and is thus associated with his work of salvation (SC, 33).
Now, my friends in Jesus and Mary, it is our turn to manifest our love for our Mother and our desire to see her solemnly crowned on earth for what she is already crowned in heaven. Following the example of these heroic Marian cardinals and bishops, let us manifest our minds and hearts to our Holy Father for the solemn papal definition of Our Lady’s spiritual motherhood as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate. Please send a brief personal note to Pope Benedict, expressing your own heartfelt desire for the fifth Marian Dogma of Mary as the Spiritual Mother of all peoples. Your personal petition can be in any form that you would like to express, from your heart, concerning your desire to have our Holy Father solemnly proclaim Our Lady as the world’s Spiritual Mother. The Holy ...
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