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VATICAN (ChurchMilitant.com) - The pope is calling a proposed dogma that Mary is mediatrix of all grace "foolishness."
During a homily given in Rome on Thursday for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pope Francis said the Blessed Virgin Mary "never introduced herself as co-redemptrix," adding, "She never wanted for herself something that was of her Son."
Throughout history, the Church has defined four specific truths regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary, called dogmas, which Catholics are required to believe: her divine motherhood, her perpetual virginity, her Immaculate Conception and her bodily assumption into Heaven. His Thursdsay comments touched on the proposed fifth Marian dogma — subject to ongoing debate by theologians — which describes Mary as advocate for sinners, mediatrix of grace and co-redemptrix.
The pope said, "When they come to us with the story of declaring her this or making that dogma, let's not get lost in foolishness."
Church Militant's Bradley Eli explains that co-redemptrix "doesn't mean two redeemers" but that "Mary participated by God's design in a pre-eminent way in man's redemption, meaning in acquiring graces for man's salvation."
He goes on to note, "All men participate in this, but Mary did so in a most perfect way owing to her Immaculate Conception and role as Mother of God," adding, "Graces were merited by Christ's passion but also by Mary's compassion — by His blood but also by her tears."
There has been disagreement in modern times about the three-fold proposed dogma, with even Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger — who became Pope Benedict XVI — commenting that it would be imprudent to pursue because of the potential for Protestants and others to misunderstand it.
The other Marian dogmas have been declared as early as the fifth century, and the latest in 1950.
The first, that Mary is the Mother of God, was declared at the Council of Ephesus in 431. The doctrine is derived from the council's declaration that Jesus Christ is truly God and truly Man, which was the subject of most heresies in the early Church.
Since Jesus is a divine Person, and Mary gave birth to Him, then she is the Mother of God. Twenty years later, the Council of Chalcedon called her Theotokos, "God-bearer."
The second doctrine declares that Mary was a virgin before, during and after the birth of Christ, hence the reason she is frequently given the title the Virgin Mary. The Lateran Council, as well as the Second Vatican Council, confirmed the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity.
The third doctrine, the Immaculate Conception, was declared by Pope Pius IX in 1854:
Concerning the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, ancient indeed is that devotion of the faithful based on the belief that her soul, in the first instant of its creation and in the first instant of the soul's infusion into the body, was, by a special grace and privilege of God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, her Son and the Redeemer of the human race, preserved free from all stain of original sin. And in this sense have the faithful ever solemnized and celebrated the Feast of the Conception.
Our Lady's Immaculate Conception is explained by St. Maximilian Kolbe, who called the Holy Spirit the uncreated Immaculate Conception because He proceeds from the love between the Father and the Son: "[He] is a most holy conception, infinitely holy, immaculate."
Since Mary is the spouse of the Holy Spirit and enjoys complete union with Him from the first instance of her creation, "This uncreated Immaculate Conception conceives divine life immaculately in the soul of Mary, his Immaculate Conception," Kolbe explains. "The virginal womb of her body, too, is reserved for him who conceives there in time — everything material comes about according to time — the divine life of the God-Man."
The fourth doctrine, the assumption of Mary into Heaven, was proclaimed by Pius XII in 1950: "The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into Heavenly glory."
Theologians continue to debate the points of the proposed fifth dogma.