That Mary is Co-Redemptrix or Mediatrix of all Graces may not be a dogma, but both of these are well-founded teachings of the Catholic Church. Some saints have explicitly used these terms, and Popes (particularly Pope John Paul II) have clarified their meaning. Pope Benedict XVI was right. These terms are not found in the language of the Scriptures and of the Fathers. But so was the word “purgatory” not found. Therefore, while the Church might not elevate these teachings to the level of dogma, it is important that all Catholics realize that these Marian beliefs are solidly founded in Scriptures - provided, of course, that Mary’s role is properly understood as not being equal, but subordinate, to Christ’s work. Just as there is danger in glorifying Mary excessively by use of these titles, there is an equal danger - if we drop the use of these titles altogether - of not giving Mary the recognition that she deserves in the special role that she played in God’s plan of salvation.
Frank J Sheed, that doyen of the Catholic Evidence Guild, in his great Theology And Sanity, Sheed & Ward 1947, expresses the doctrine beautifully:
“As Christ represents humanity in the Redemptive Act, she represents humanity in the co-redemptive act. His suffering was the essential thing, and hers valuable only by derivation. His was the Passion, hers the Com-Passion. He was the Redeemer but the Church loves to call her Co-Redemptrix.” (Theology And Sanity, p 235).
Pope Benedict XV reaffirmed Mary as Co-Redemptrix in his Apostolic Letter Inter soldalica:
“Therefore, one can say, she [that is, the Blessed Virgin] redeemed with Christ the human race.” [Pope Benedict XV, Apostolic Letter *Inter soldalica, AAS 1918, 181].
The Church’s teaching is that the BVM was eternally united with Jesus in the decree for the Incarnation, and thus from eternity before time began and through all eternity (Lumen Gentium 59).
Just as the pagan may be saved WITHOUT knowing Christ and His teaching or Church specifically, yet every Grace comes to the pagan through Christ’s Church, and through the BVM as Mother of the Church and Mother of Grace.
In the same way as every grace comes to men from Christ through Mary as Mother in the order of grace, so does every grace come to men through Mary as Mother of the Church, for outside of the Church there is no salvation.
Church Teaching on Mary as Mediatrix of (All) Graces
Compiled by Fr. William G. Most