The universal motherhood of Mary for all people of all times is described in a threefold way. Our Lady said something unexpected about this: “This image shall precede. This image must go over the whole world. It is the interpretation and illustration of the new dogma. This is why I myself have given this image to the peoples.” (Dec. 8, 1952)
The image is the interpretation and illustration of a new dogma? Which dogma is the Lady speaking about? In the history of Marian apparitions it is truly unique that Our Lady asks for a dogma in her messages! According to her words, this Marian dogma will be the “final and greatest.” (Aug. 15, 1951) Addressing the Holy Father, she desired: “See to the final dogma, the crowning of Mary, the proclamation of the dogma of Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate.” (Oct. 11, 1953)
More than once, our Mother addressed the theologians directly and explained to them the theological content and great significance of the dogma: “Tell your theologians that they can find everything in their books… I am not bringing a new doctrine.” (Apr. 4, 1954) “The Church will encounter much opposition on account of the new dogma.” (Aug. 15, 1951)
Today, more than 50 years later, the Catholic Church indeed finds herself in this difficult and painful position. On the one hand, cardinals and hundreds of bishops want to see Mary honored through a dogma as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate. The same is desired by renowned theologians, many priests and millions of faithful. This title has also been loved and used up to this very day by various mariologians and even saints such as Vincent Pallotti, Anne Catherine Emmerich, Leopold Mandic, Maximilian Kolbe, Edith Stein, Padre Pio and Mother Teresa.
Also Pope John Paul II used the title Coredemptrix several times. For example, he said in the general audience on September 8, 1982, “Mary, despite being conceived and born without the stain of sin, has participated in a admirable way in the sufferings of her divine Son, to be the Coredemptrix of humanity.”
However, not everyone thinks in this way, and they have their understandable reasons. Among the cardinals, bishops and theologians, there are many who consider the term Coredemptrix to be easily misunderstood and therefore fundamentally unsuitable to correctly explain the unique theological role of Mary in salvation history.
Regarding this title, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, at the time Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said to the German journalist, Peter Seewald, in his book “God and the World”, that the cooperation of Mary in the plan of redemption “is already better expressed in other titles of Mary, while the formula ‘Co-Redemptrix’ departs to too great an extent from the language of Scripture and of the Fathers and therefore gives rise to misunderstanding.”Joachim Cardinal Meisner also shares the same opinion regarding this issue.
This has to be clearly stated here, for the Archbishop of Cologne who is certainly the Pope’s best and most faithful friend, would have never given permission in his diocese to celebrate a day of prayer in honor of the Lady of All Nations, whose message is directly linked to the title Coredemptrix, if the current position of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith were not clearly stated.
This position does not, however, mean that bishops, priests, theologians and faithful may not use the title Coredemptrix. With great submission to the authentic Magisterium of the Church, the theological discussion remains open.
When the concept Coredemptrix is properly explained, it becomes clear that through this Mary is not placed as an equal to Jesus as if she were God. Co-Redemptrix indicates much more that she, as the Immaculata and the New Eve, in perfect union with her divine Son, suffered in a unique way for our redemption. She did this in total dependence upon Jesus and living entirely from Him.
Both Son and mother were truly one heart, one love, onesuffering for one common goal, the redemption of the world.
As Our Lady said to St. Bridget of Sweden, “Adam and Eve sold the world for one apple; my son and I purchased the world with one heart.”
A dialogue of love
In order that this truth may be proclaimed at the appropriate time, God willing, the theological differences of opinion regarding the title Coredemptrix must be reconciled sooner or later through extensive studies, loving dialogue, and above all through prayer and sacrifice.
Consequently, let it be said that those who are in favor of the title Coredemptrix should show understanding for those who, in their genuine love for Mary, consider this notion unsuitable. Some of them, as mariologians, have written important works about Mary. Yet, out of their concern that Jesus’ unique and incomparable place as the divine Redeemer could be diminished or that the ecumenical dialogue could be jeopardized, they recommend not using the title Coredemptrix.
There is another group of theologians who have no problem with venerating Mary under the title Coredemptrix, but they see no necessity that this truth ever be defined as a dogma. Still others are open to the dogma but consider its proclamation in the near future to be unwise.
Whichever opinion one puts forward, the theological discussion must be conducted without controversy, in brotherly love, in mutual esteem and respecting the sense of the faith (sensus fidei). Perhaps the most beautiful example of this is Pope John Paul II and his closest coworker, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. While Pope Wojtyla appreciated and used the title, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had his reservations. This did not, however, in any way diminish their friendship, which was extremely fruitful for the good of the Church.
One thing is certain, the dogma will above all be the fruit of prayer and it will grow from the hearts of the suffering. It will be a dogma that is prayed and suffered for. The most powerful intercessors are therefore the sick and suffering, among whom are some who are even willing to offer their lives.
The way to true peace
Whether or not it is proper to call Mary the Coredemptrix is a question which theologians, subordinate to the Magisterium of the Church, will continue to work on, all the bishops of the world will be asked their opinion and then the Holy Father will decide. Even if a dogma will never be proclaimed on account of a prophetic private revelation, it is still exceptional that we can even now know the powerful and grace-filled effects of this Marian dogma for the Church and the world.
The Lady of All Nations promised a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit and through this, true peace for the nations. “And the Lady stayed with her Apostles until the Spirit came. So also may the Lady come to her apostles and nations throughout the whole world, in order to bring them the Holy Spirit again and anew… Once the dogma, the final dogma in Marian history, has been proclaimed, the Lady of All Nations will grant peace, true peace, to the world.” (May 31, 1954)
The grace-filled effects of the dogma, the victory of Mary over evil and peace in the world which is associated with it, is impressively illustrated in the image. The serpent, as mentioned before, is no longer visible on the globe. However, to conquer the entire power of Satan worldwide, Mary, the woman who crushes the serpent’s head, must also be solemnly recognized and honored worldwide in the entirety of her vocation—as the Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate.
If and when the dogma will be proclaimed rests, as said, entirely on the Holy Father. In any event, a new Marian dogma will certainly not be proclaimed as long as its theological content is not understood by most and when the majority of the faithful are barely Marian anymore. So we see that the right time has not yet come.
Yet how should the right time come? How should the nations come to appreciate and love Mary as their mother or even come to know about her as the Coredemptrix? What can we, the faithful, concretely do in our daily lives so that Mary can one day be solemnly glorified through the last Marian dogma? Our Lady herself gives us the answer: “This is my message for today, because time presses. A great action must be set on foot for the Son and the Cross, and for the Advocate and bearer of tranquility and peace, the Lady of All Nations.” (Apr. 1, 1951)
What great worldwide action does Our Lady mean? Our Lady asks us to spread her PRAYER and IMAGE as a completely peaceful contribution that everyone of good will can do in preparation for the dogma and for world peace. She herself gave a name to the diffusion, calling it a “great world action” (Oct. 11, 1953) or even a “work of redemption and peace.” (Apr. 1, 1951)