Will the Virgin Mary be called something new this year?

Earlier this month, the International Marian Association submitted a request to Pope Francis, asking for the public recognition of the title of Mary as “Co-Redemptrix with Jesus the Redeemer.”

The 10 page document was submitted by the Theological Commission of the International Marian Association, a group of more than 100 theologians, bishops, priests, religious, and lay leaders from over 20 countries dedicated to the “full truth and love of Mary, Mother of Jesus.” It comes during the 100th year anniversary of the Marian apparitions at Fatima, Portugal.

The significance of the request, if it were to receive approval, is that the faithful would be given further clarity on Mary’s unique role in cooperation with Christ in the work of redemption, Dr. Robert Fastiggi, Professor of Mariology at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, told EWTN News.

“I think many people sense the spread of evil in the world and see the importance of highlighting Mary’s role as spiritual Mother,” Dr. Fastiggi said in e-mail comments.

“A papal statement on Marian coredemption would deepen our understanding of Mary’s role as the New Eve who collaborates with her Son, the New Adam, ‘in giving back supernatural life to souls,'” he added, referring to the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium.

The title can be traced back to the 10th century, when some Marian litanies included the title of Mary as Redemptrix, along with her son. It was a development of the idea of Mary as the “New Eve,” a Marian title that has been used since the 2nd century. The prefix of “co-” was added by the 15th century, to clarify that Mary was not the Redeemer, but rather someone who uniquely cooperated in the work of redemption.

“The Co-Redemptrix title never places Mary on a level of equality with Jesus Christ, the only divine Redeemer, as to do so would constitute both heresy and blasphemy,” the Association stated in a press release announcing the request.

“The Co-Redemptrix title is meaningless without Jesus the Redeemer, and in itself focuses upon the Cross of Jesus Christ. Mary Co-Redemptrix proclaims to the world that suffering is redemptive when united to the sufferings of Christ.”

After the prefix was added, title continued to catch on, so much so that the 17th century considered the “golden age” of the title of Mary as Co-Redemptrix. Still, it didn’t receive magisterial recognition until 1908, when the Sacred Congregation for Rites used it in a decree elevating the rank of the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

Since then, it has been referenced multiple times by the Magisterium, including during the second Vatican council, which ultimately decided against any formal recognition of the title in the document Lumen Gentium.

“The term, however was not rejected because it was false. In the praenotanda or explanatory note that accompanied the first Marian schema of 1962, we are told that, ‘Certain terms and expressions used by Roman Pontiffs have been omitted, which, although most true in themselves (in se verissima), may be difficult for the separated brethren (as in the case of the Protestants) to understand,'” Dr. Fastiggi explained.

“The Council, therefore, recognized the importance of further development and clarification on certain points of Marian doctrine. A papal statement on Marian co-redemption would provide greater clarity on Mary’s unique cooperation with Christ in the work of redemption and the mediation of grace.  It would also open the way for many graces in the life of the Church.”

Popes often grant formal papal recognition to help deepen the theological understanding of the faithful, such as when Bl. Pope Paul VI proclaimed Mary as “Mother of the Church” in 1964.

“The invocation of Mary under various titles like ‘Mother of God’ and ‘Help of Christians’ reinforces Mary’s role in the mystery of salvation,” Dr. Fastiggi noted.

Unfortunately, Dr. Fastiggi said, many Catholics are unaware of the recognition that the title “Co-Redemptrix” has already received so much informal recognition from the magisterium.

“Some are even under the impression that we are not allowed to call Mary ‘Co-Redemptrix’-even though two popes, namely Pius XI (3 times) and St. John Paul II (at least 6 times), have publicly referred to Mary as ‘Co-Redemptrix,'” he said.

And while there are concerns that the title could further confuse Protestants and others who disagree with Catholic teaching on Mary, Dr. Fastiggi believes a formal recognition of the title would actually help with further clarification.

“A formal papal statement would also serve the cause of ecumenism because it would help other Christians know that the Catholic Church clearly distinguishes between the saving work of Christ as the one Savior and Mediator (1 Tim 2: 5:6) and the Blessed Mother’s secondary, dependent but utterly unique cooperation with Christ in the work of redemption and the mediation of grace,” he said.

In a press release announcing the request, the International Marian Association said: “We believe that a public acknowledgement of Mary’s true and continuous role with Jesus in the saving work of Redemption would justly celebrate the role of humanity in God’s saving plan; foster greater devotion to the Mother of God; and lead to the release of historic graces through an even more powerful exercise of Our Lady’s maternal roles of intercession for the Church and for all humanity today.”

While the request could lead to a new Marian dogma, Dr. Fastiggi said the Association would likely be happy with any form of formal papal recognition of the title.

“The members of Association realize that it’s up to the Holy Spirit to guide the Holy Father with regard to this petition. In this regard, prayer and trust are essential,” he said.

“We trust in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Father, and the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is our spiritual Mother. May God’s will be done.”

By Mary Rezac 



  1. thomraff Reply

    You have heard the analogies “Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” and “Like putting lipstick on a pig”, right?

  2. Peter Aiello Reply

    Suffering, of itself, is not redemptive. Probably most of those who suffer do not automatically cast all of their cares on the Lord. Suffering can only be a motivator to connect with Christ, the Redeemer.
    In regards to Mary, Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium 62 puts things into perspective: “Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix. This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator. For no creature could ever be counted as equal with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer”.
    The title co-redemptrix for Mary would need to be qualified with an explanation as to how she would be co-redemptrix, and why her Son is the only possible Redeemer of mankind. It could not contradict Scripture. The unique cooperation of Mary in the work of redemption that I see in Scripture is that she is the mother of Jesus. Even Protestants know this.
    Is there more?

  3. Patrick Gannon Reply

    I have a couple problems with the Mary story.

    First, it really bothers me that she was not asked for her consent. How is this different from rape? Mark, the first gospel chronologically has no virgin birth, Matthew includes it but his account contains no discussion between Mary and any angels; then Luke embellishes the story, wherein the angel informs her, without asking for consent, that she will be impregnated. Mary, mere chattel as a woman, has no option but to accept her fate. The author of John, surely having these earlier gospels in front of him a decade or so later while writing his own gospel, votes no on the virgin birth myth and leaves it out of his account. Most likely that author was familiar with the original Hebrew and knew the Greek translation was wrong. The John gospel disagrees over some other key points as well, not to mention that his Jesus is a very different person from that in the earlier gospels.

    Second, the bit about a virgin birth was included by the author of Matthew in an attempt to use Isaiah as prophecy for this birth. The problem is that the section of Isaiah this is taken from has nothing to do with messiahs, and it uses the word “alma” which means “young girl” or maiden. The author of Matthew is using the Septuagint, which is the Hebrew bible translated to Greek, and they incorrectly translated “alma.” If the original author of Isaiah had wanted to say “virgin” he would have used the word “betulah.”

    Third, it bothers me that Mary is an example of Yahweh’s apparent cruelty. Aside from the fact that many pagan gods were born of virgins and Jesus had to be at least as good as them, Mary had to be a virgin in order to keep from passing “original sin” on to Jesus. At that time, they thought that women just carried and grew the seed of the man and did not contribute to the genetic material, hence they did not think Mary could pass on original sin. However in the 1800s they learned that women do indeed contribute half the genetic material and Mary’s parents did the nasty sex thing and passed original sin on to her, such that she would have necessarily passed it on to Jesus. The Church couldn’t have this, so they decided in 1854 that Mary had been born without original sin! This seems to have huge implications. This means it is not necessary for Yahweh-Jesus to go through all the rigmarole of impregnating a young maiden with himself in order to be born as himself so he could sacrifice himself to himself in order to relieve us of a condition (original sin) that he placed on us in the first place. It means that if he wants to, the Catholic god has the power to remove or prevent original sin, not just for Mary, but for all of us – but he cruelly chooses not to, preferring that unbaptized infants go to Hell, I suppose.

    Even after sending himself to earth in human form, nothing here is better. Nobody is “saved” unless they believe, say and do the right things as directed by celibate virgins dressed in robes insisting we call them “Father” even though they’ve chosen to remove themselves from the human gene pool. Prior to Jesus, those who died went to Sheol and at the end of time were judged and if found wanting they were to be destroyed. After Jesus, we are judged immediately, and if found wanting, instead of being destroyed, we are sent to eternal torment. This “good news” of Jesus certainly did not improve our condition! It would be far better and much more just to simply be destroyed if we somehow hurt an all powerful being’s feelings to the point that he felt he had to do something about it.

    Fourth, there is praying to Mary, as though Yahweh-Jesus can’t hear us unless we do. Where does the all-powerful, all-knowing part come in?

    Finally, the idea of saying Hail Mary’s as penance, after Confession. Praying to Mary is punishment! That never made a lot of sense to me as a kid, and it still doesn’t.

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