ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - Though Pope Francis seemingly shelved petitions for the Marian title of Co-redemptrix, top American theologians continue to seek Vatican approval for it.
Concerning a December homily in which Pope Francis apparently downplayed requests for the Church to officially proclaim new Marian titles, two esteemed Marian theologians are saying this doesn't permanently close the door on such petitions.
Doctor Mark Miravalle, professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, and Dr. Robert Fastiggi, professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, published an article on Wednesday explaining why they'll keep asking the Church to grant Mary not only the title of Co-redemptrix but also the titles of Mediatrix of all Graces and Advocate as well.
"Although the Holy Father currently holds a certain position on new Marian dogmas, there is nothing to prevent a further development in his attitude," they said.
Miravalle is president of Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici, a group that has been a leading voice in petitioning the Vatican for these specific Marian titles. He and Fastiggi believe Francis will be open to such proclamations based on past evidence of his Marian devotion.
"There is nothing in Pope Francis's homily of Dec. 12 that rejects Marian coredemption. From prior statements of his, it's clear that he affirms this doctrine," they said.
They note Mary was already being referred to in the popular devotion by the Middle Ages. The prefix "co-" came in around the 14th century.
"During the 14th and 15th centuries, however, the prefix 'co' from the Latin cum (with) was added to make it clear that Mary's role in redemption was with and under Christ, the Redeemer," the theologians explained.
But it was after the 1700s, they recalled, that the Catholic Magisterium started referring more openly to Mary's role of co-redemption. They show how these references become even more explicit in the 20th century:
In 1908 the Sacred Congregation for Rites referred to Mary as "the merciful Co-redemptrix of the human race." ... In 1913, the Holy Office approved a prayer invoking Mary as "our Co-redemptrix." ... In 1914 the same Holy Office gave approval to a prayer appealing to Mary as "the Co-redemptrix of the human race." ... Pope Pius XI publicly referred to Mary as co-redemptrix on three separate occasions and John Paul II used the title at least six times.
They further relate that Pope John Paul II at a general audience in 1980 "invited the sick to transform their pain into a 'loving offering in imitation of the Virgin Mary, the Co-redemptrix.'"
Because they believe they're on solid theological ground and hope the pope won't oppose petitions for these Marian titles, they'll keep asking.
"This is why groups like Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici will continue to pray and petition for the solemn definition of Our Lady's Spiritual Motherhood," they said, "inclusive of her three motherly functions as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces and Advocate, but always in complete obedience, fidelity and respect for the present Roman Pontiff, who is the supreme Vicar of Christ on earth."