Pope Francis rejects seven popes on Co-Redemptrix

I’m going to offer a critique of Pope Francis’ impassioned rejection of Mary as Co-Redemptrix at Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe the other day, December 12, 2019. The video above is the entire homily.

And yes, I’m aware through second hand information – I know, “second-hand” – and from a private conversation with then Cardinal Ratzinger – I know, “private” – that the then Prefect’s opinion of the title co-redemptrix could be misleading, but not that it was wrong in itself. Analogously, that’s what Saint John Henry Newman said about Papal Infallibility, right? It’s entirely correct, but maybe that wasn’t the best time to be proclaiming that truth of the Gospels in Matthew 16, what with the sum of all heresies running rampant in both the Catholic Church and the Anglican get-togethers at that time (it’s no different today). I would counter that the best time to preach the truth is all the time: “Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient [in season or out of season]; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

Anyway, that objection of “it’s correct but the wording could be misinterpreted” is all a far cry from Pope Francis’ putting the absolute worst spin on that title for Mary – Co-Redemptrix – that he could possibly ever dream up in some nightmare, having it that not only is it misleading, but wrong, he even saying that efforts with this are “stupidities.”

Lets see what he himself says at 2’17”:

  • “Fiel a su Maestro, que es su Hijo, el único Redentor, jamás quiso para sí tomar algo de su Hijo. Jamás se presentó como co-redentora, no: discípula.”
  • “Faithful to her Master, who is her Son, alone the Redeemer, she never desired to take something of her Son for herself. She never presented herself as co-redeemer, no: disciple.”

Well, that’s all true:

  • She was faithful to her Master, who is her Son, He alone being the Redeemer.
  • She never desire to take something of her Son for herself.
  • She never presented herself as Co-Redeemer. [nor does she have to for this to be true.]
  • She was, in fact, a disciple.

The problem is that Pope Francis contrasts all this with the title Co-Redemptrix, attacking the historical interpretation of that title by, say, the “Servant of God” (first step toward canonization) Sister Lucia of Fatima, and by, say, Pope Saint John Paul II, who used that title a half-dozen times (and also a few more times for all the rest of us, by the way, inasmuch as we are to be evangelizers of the redemption). The title was also used by Pope Pius IX, Pope Leo XIII, Pope Pius X, Pope Benedict XV, Pope Pius XI, Pope Pius XII. Anyway, let’s move on:

In the video, at 2’55”:

  • “Nunca robó para sí nada de su Hijo. Lo sirvió porque Madre. “
  • “She never robbed anything from her Son, but she served Him, because she is Mother.”

Fine. That’s all true as well:

  • She never robbed [stealing by way of arrogant violence] anything from her Son.
  • She served Him as Mother.

But that has nothing that contradicts her being Co-Redemptrix. With overwhelming irony, all that misses the point of her being the woman and mother that she is, as we will see. Let’s move along…

Then, at 6’07” (he’s mumbling a bit…):

  • “Quando vengan con historias de que de declarala esto a ser trato como un dogma o esto – non la perdamos in tonteras.”
  • “When they come with stories of having to declare this [Mary as Co-Redemptrix] to be a dogma or whatever – let’s not lose her in stupidities.”

“Stupidities.” This, of course, is not a named, but is nonetheless a direct attack on seven previous popes, as well as, it seems to me – and this is perhaps to the point – on Mark Miravale, who has made this title of Co-Redemptrix a life project. He’s done a lot of excellent work on this. What Pope Francis does is simply offensive. If he wants to pick a fight, he should name his adversaries who are alive today instead of hiding behind a bully pulpit. All stupidities about Mary? Really?

Let’s do some reasoning about this:

Pope Francis considers the title Co-Redemptrix to be falsely assigning Mary a function which she steals violently from her Son, as if being a woman and mother wasn’t enough for any woman, including Mary, to have dignity.

But this is missing the point altogether. It’s so dark, so dismal, so unable to see goodness and kindness in being a woman, a mother. Here’s the deal:

  • It is because Mary is a faithful woman, mother and disciple that she is Co-Redemptrix. Only she could be so faithful, such a mother, and such a disciple.

Let’s unpack that a bit…

  • Mary is free of original sin as we know from Genesis 3:15 and Luke 1:28 (see my thesis on Genesis and Ignace de la Potterie’s study on Luke 1:28).
  • That means she has purity of heart and agility of soul and clarity of vision such that she sees the contrast between God’s goodness and our sin. In looking upon her Son on Calvary, she sees all the sin of all mankind wrecked upon her Son. As a woman, as a mother, as His mother, she is in solidarity with Him while He accomplishes our Redemption, He alone our Redeemer. In her immaculateness, with her clarity of vision, seeing what we need perfectly, she perfectly intercedes for us in that solidarity, heart to Heart, with her Son.
  • Here’s the point: it is entirely fitting in justice that one of us mere human beings (only she is capable what with her being free from original sin) asks for all that we need in Redemption. Her request, in all justice, and her Son’s answer as a command to His Heavenly Father (Father! Forgive them), makes of them co-workers in our Redemption. She asks. He provides. That’s what the title Co-Redemptrix for Mary is all about. Nothing more. But nothing less.
  • Being Co-Redemptrix is the flourishing of her being a woman, a mother, His Immaculate Virgin Mother, and ours. She’s not brutally, violently stealing anything from Son to make herself look good. No. How sick is that? Instead, she serves Him in unimaginable suffering as only a good mother could. How could anyone look into her eyes and insult her that her motherhood is not flourishing here under the Cross?

We are also to be co-redeemers of sorts, co-workers with the redemption, evangelizing the redemption. Is that so bad, so blasphemous? No. It isn’t.

I have much to say about this connection between the motherhood of Mary and her title of Co-Redemptrix, foundationally in my thesis, and then more precisely and especially  in the conference on Mary, Mother of the Church Militant, which I gave back in 2013:

So, we pray for Pope Francis and for each other, doing this as, um… co-redeemers… and we ask Mary to show us all her motherhood, you know, as the Co-Redemptrix:

Monstra te esse matrem! Show yourself to be a mother!


Filed under John Paul II, Mary, Pope Francis

9 responses to “Pope Francis rejects seven popes on Co-Redemptrix

  1. Aussie Mum

    It struck me awhile back and I haven’t been able to put aside the similarity between what the 5th Marian Dogma proposes and the Miraculous Medal portrays. Its design, given by God through the hands of His Mother to St Catherine Laboure in 1830, strikingly depicts Our Lady as Co-Redemptrix (the head of the serpent crushed by her Son on the Cross shown under her foot), as Mediatrix (the graces merited by Him flowing to us through her hands) and as our Advocate (indicated by the prayer surrounding her image). On the back we see the Cross rising from the letter M for Mary, she who gave Him birth and stood under His Cross in perfect solidarity with His Sacrifice; their two Hearts, His pierced and hers broken with sorrow as represented by the sword that cuts through it; and around them twelve stars standing for the Apostles and thus the Church. Hence, an amazingly concise and striking summary of Salvation History is presented.

    Many miracles have been associated with the Miraculous Medal and it seems to me that many more might be poured out over the world if a pope would declare the 5th Marian Dogma proposed by Dr Miravalle: Our Lady as Co-Redemptix, Mediatrix and Advocate. Perhaps doing so would even trigger the triumph of her Immaculate Heart promised at Fatima.

  2. Our Lady is strongly considered to be the Co-Redemptrix because we always go to Jesus through Mary. If you want to intersede to Jesus you have a much better chance of getting your request heard when you go through His Holy Mother. We have so many pressing issues in the Church why the emphases on such a beautiful role which we have attributed to Our Mother.

  3. James Anderson

    Fr. George, Is Ignace de la Potterie’s study on Luke 1:28 available in English on the Internet?

    • Father George David Byers

      Dunno. I gotta do something with that. Someone did do a simple translation but I don’t know if that’s just hard copy. That would have been in the 1990s I think…

  4. Mary Floeck

    I’m no scholar. Just a faithful Catholic who prays the Rosary and thanks God for the gift of Mary who cooperated in our redemption. Don’t need theologians to decipher this for me. I know Our Blessed Mother, who loved God and said yes to Him when Gabriel announced to Her that she would be mother of His only Son. The Catholic world has gone nuts. But I do all I can to stay close to Our Mother, yes co redemptrix of course, and I believe that pleases Her Son, Our Lord. She only leads me closer to Him. Thanks dear Blessed Mother!!

  5. Im4truth4all

    Why did the Pope even bring this up? What was his motivation?

  6. pelerin

    Wonderful to read Aussi Mum’s explanation of the Miraculous Medal.
    She may be interested in this coincidence. When I was a child someone gave me an old postcard showing a beautiful chapel. On the back the caption just said ‘La Chapelle’ with no clue as to where it was. I would look at it from time to time wondering where it was then put it away again.
    Many years later after reading about the Chapel in the Rue du Bac Paris I had the opportunity of visiting it.
    I walked in and there to my astonishment in front of me was the very Chapel pictured on the postcard I had been given so many years before. I have visited it many times since but it is that first visit which remains in my memory.
    ‘O Marie concue sans peche – priez pour nous qui avons recours a vous’

    • Aussie Mum

      The postcard showing the Chapel where Our Lady appeared to St Catherine Laboure was given you as a child, so before you became Catholic? Perhaps that introduction to La Chapelle was the beginning of your journey Pelerin, unrecognised then, into the Catholic Church to which you were being gently drawn by our Heavenly Mother. As far as I know, only in that Chapel on the Rue du Bac did she reveal her maternal love for us, her non-biological children, in such an up close and personal manner: Catherine kneeling at her side, a child with her mother, Catherine’s arms resting in her Mother’s lap, intently listening to her Mother’s voice and talking with her. Lourdes and Fatima, although tremendously important, never showed this level of maternal intimacy. La Chapelle is a very special place. We see statues of Our Lady with the Child Jesus in her arms, but we are in her arms too, with Him, and she wants us to know this.

  7. pelerin

    Aussie Mum – yes many years before, probably in about 1953 It was such a beautiful image of the Sanctuary there. Then in 1958 I bought the French magazine Paris Match with details of the centenary of the Apparitions in Lourdes which I had never heard of before then. (I still have this edition although not the postcard I mentioned which sadly disappeared over the years)
    Both the postcard and the P-M article got me thinking and set me on my journey and after much further investigation, in 1965 I finally ‘took the plunge’ and have never regretted my decision. I first discovered the Chapel in the Rue du Bac in 1987 but I did not get to go to Lourdes until 2005 but have been every year ever since. I find both places so uplifting and feel drawn to each for different reasons.

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