Fr Peter Fehlner shows how Vatican II teaches that Mary is Mediatress of all graces
0 ver the past 10 years, unpredictably in terms of earlier prognostications about theological issues to be "on the cutting edge" in the new millennium, the Catholic doctrine of Marian coredemption has occupied the rapt attention — enthusiastic on the part of supporters, violent on the part of opponents — pro or con, all convinced the issue is not only important, but "the issue".
Dr. Miravalle's Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici movement has presented over five million signatures to the Holy See humbly requesting a solemn definition of the Marian titles Coredemptress, Mediatress of all graces and Advocate. A third of the cardinals and over a quarter of the Catholic episcopate have signed the petitions.
Nonetheless, the initial response of most Catholics to the question: "would you give up a Bank Holiday to learn a bit more during the Third International Sympo sium on Marian Coredemption (August 20 -26, 2002, at Downside Abbey; details on page 5) about this hotly debated theme and why it is so hotly debated by those who grasp its significance?". Probably will be a negative.
The response is understandable. Are not such questions primarily the concern of professional theologians? It is commonly reported that this is the mind of the Holy Father. Besides, leading theologians have stated publicly that the so-called coredemptive doctrine is "old-fashioned" theology, out of step with that appropriate to the post-conciliar era and a serious block to further ecumenical progress.
True, such issues are, or should be, the primary concern of theologians, but not exclusively so. Even before the theologians they are the primary concern of the whole Church. The common report about the Holy Father is, to put it mildly, based on a faulty interpretation of a very
debatable 1997 article in L'Osservatore Romano about the prOlTieMS iffiteralf in the notion of Marian coredemption. The present Holy Father since the beginning of his pontificate has, like his immediate predecessors in the See of Peter, often taught the doctrine of Marian coredemption, and is the first Pope since Pius XI to employ the title Coredemptress in public addresses, where he has used it at least six times.
A far more accurate index of his views than the Osservatore Romano article is the recent publication by the Vatican Press of the latest book by Sr Lucy, last surviving Fatima seer: "Calls" from the Message of Fatima. The title Coredemptress is frequently employed (notwithstanding the warnings of the 1997 article in L'Osservatore) and the doctrine of Marian coredemption effectively is presented as central to the message of Fatima and the triumph of the Immaculate Heart.
Early in June, moreover, the Bishop of Haarlem, Msgr. Punt, approved the supernatural authenticity of the revelations of Our Lady to Ida Peerdeman of Amsterdam. Central to these revelations is Our Lady's request that there be a solemn dogmatic definition of her titles Coredemptress, Mediatress of All Graces, Advocate.
For those who think that the real goals intended by the Holy Spirit at Vatican II have been realised without the promotion of the mystery of coredemption and the triumph of the Immaculate Heart, there remains the stark reality of the religious crisis throughout the Church, the persistent scandals and the tragic breakdown of morals, culture and civilisation worldwide. The message of Fatima, and so many other Church-approved revelations of Jesus and Mary is clear: the crisis will continue until Our Lady is acknowledged.
That is not merely the burden of so many contemporary private revelations. It is substantially the teach ing of Vatican II. At the centre of the Council teaching is the mystery of the Church and the renewal of the Church, a renewal needed in part to counter the inroads of secularism, and even more to take advantage of present opportunities to advance the kingdom of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
And the key to the realisation of both goals, according to the Council, is the mystery of Mary in Christ and in the Church: in the Church because in Christ, Mother of the Church because Mother of God. The Council thus defines Mary as the link between Head and Body of the Church. Another word for this (in fact used by the Council) is Mediatress, which unraveled becomes Coredemptress, Mediatress of All Graces, Advocate. If the key is used, the door will be opened to stupendous, unheard of blessings for the Church and mankind. If it is not used (and so far except for a relatively small number of persons it has not been used), the situation of the Church and of mankind will progressively worsen.
In a word, there is, according to the Council, nothing antiquated about the doctrine. And even if for various practical reasons the Council abstained for the moment in using the title Coredemptress expressly, Pope Paul VI and the present Pontiff make it abundantly clear that nothing better could happen to the ecumenical movement than the promotion of Mary, Mother of the Church, as its very heart, since she is the key to its final success.
his is why Pope Paul VI calls Mary in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus, Mother of Unity. This is why John Paul H, in the Encyclical Redemptoris Mater locates Mary's motherhood in relation to the Church in the scene at the foot of the Cross where Jesus entrusts us, consecrates us to His Mother: Son, behold thy Mother! The coredemptive compassion of Mary, her active part in the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus, makes her Mother of the unity of the Body of Christ: of the members to each other, and of all to the Head. Absent that active influence and the Church and its members will cease to be one. Fortunately for the Church that maternal influence is never lacking. What the Saviour desires is the cooperation of the members, actual and potential, in taking the Coredemptress into their homes.
The symposium at Downside Abbey at the end of August is a good opportunity not only to become more informed about the mystery of Marian coredemption, but with many others to live more deeply that mystery which in the words of Vatican II makes Mary the "preeminent member" of the Church.