Is Mary our Co-Redemptrix?

My family and I are currently in RCIA at our church. We have been Christians all our lives, but recently left the Episcopal Church when Gene Robinson was ordained as a bishop. I am in complete agreement with Catholic doctrine that I have learned (and even have an article ready to submit to a Catholic magazine), but I am repeatedly deeply troubled by the concept of Mary as the Co-Redemptrix.

I have read a quote from the pope concerning a facet of this issue in which he emphasizes the “cooperation” Mary extended in our redemption by her willingness to bear Jesus. This doesn’t pose a problem to me. I see that she can be seen as the new Eve, and this also makes sense. I accept that Mary is worthy of our honor and respect, but I am afraid that the title of “Co-Redemptrix” goes too far–by removing some of the honor from Christ. I also worry that it unnecessarily puts up stumbling blocks before those considering a move to the Catholic Church.

I have tried to have polite discussions on this issue on the forums, but it seems that this issue frequently brings out the worst in everyone. Catholics make outrageous comments asserting that Mary and Jesus are one in the same, or that Catholics shouldn’t even refer to Protestants as brothers and sisters in Christ (therefore avoiding Romans 14:21 in their minds).

I have spoken with our priest, RCIA instructor, and a brother at an area monastery concerning this topic. The consensus is always the same. They urge me to relax because this doctrine will never be adopted in a formal sense. A relative of mine (also joining the Catholic Church) recently spoke with a bishop on this issue and was told about the same thing that I have been advised.

What is your opinion on this matter? The supporters for “Co-Redemptrix” frequently point to Colossians 1:24.
**Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

At any rate, can you put a new Catholic’s fear at rest? If I am not comfortable in adopting this theology, can I still call myself a good Catholic? Sorry for the long question, but I want to demonstrate that I have given the matter a great deal of thought these past few months. I look forward to your answer!

Dear Writer,

When one understands that “Co-Redemptrix” does NOT mean “Co-Equal” there is no problem. You have a good hold on what Mary’s very real cooperation in our salvation is. This is all the Church means by the term. But the term is SO easily misunderstood. As a result, it really does Our Lady more of a disservice than an honor because of the confusion it causes—in my opinion. This is also why the Church has not pushed the term in a formal way.

I will say a Hail Mary that you get through this. I know that Our Lady wants you to.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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