Marian Dogmas


What consitutes a dogma?

How many dogmas about the Virgin Mary are there today in the Church?


There are currently four marian dogmas:

1)Mother of God (Theotokos)

2)Perpetual Virginity

3)Immaculate Conception


There are some in the Church that are petitioning for a fifth Marian dogma to be promulgated. If declared, it would be:

5)Maternal Mediation (Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces, Advocate)

I saw one poster here at CAF quote Mark Shea on the difference between dogma and doctrine. To paraphrase:

Dogma is what we get when the Church is done thinking about something.

Dogma is formally declared by an ecumenical council or an ex cathedra statement of the pope.


Which Pope or Council declared Mary’s perpetual virginity?

I have no doubt at all that Mary is ever-virgin, and that this is the infallible teaching of the Universal Magisterium. But has it been solemnly defined?


The Council of Constantinople in 553 and the Pope Martin I at the Lateran Council in 649.


Her Perpetual Virginity was declared at the Lateran Council in 649 under the authority of Pope Matin I. It was not a full-fledged ecumenical council, but it was called on the pope’s authority. For all the details, see the Catholic Encyclopedia’s article on the Virgin Birth of Christ.

Also, the relevant section of the Catechism is CCC 496-507.

Hope this helps! :thumbsup:


A dogma, or credenda, is a truth revealed by God that must be believed with divine faith–the denial of which, heresy, separates one from the unity of faith.

The next level is tenenda, or truths which must only be held. These are usually matters of morality–even if you don’t have that divine faith in the truth, but you accept it and live according to it in proper obedience to rightful Church authority, you stay within the fold and commit no sin.

The Church definitively and bindingly proclaims and confirms both of these infallibly through the various organs of infallibility (which usually overlap).


I was going to start a new thread but I might as well ask here.

Is anyone familiar with Our Lady of All Nations? I never heard of this apparition/devotion until I heard a caller on Catholic Answers Live the other day.
The bishops of Haarlem (the Netherlands) and the Holy Office repeatedly rejected the apparition but it was finally approved in the 70s – almost 30 years after the fact. It is apparently the source of the “5th Marian dogma”.

Catholic websites seem to either embrace Our Lady of All Nations wholeheartedly or take a very cautious attitude.


This is incorrect. It is NOT the “source” of the 5th Marian Dogma.

Private revelations have no bearing on the public revelation of the Church and cannot add to the deposit of the faith.

Mary as advocate, co-redemptrix, and mediatrix of grace is very ancient and if proclaimed would in no way be dependent upon this supposed apparition.


Our Lady of All Nations is an approved Marian apparition. Thus, Catholics may confidently believe in it, but they are not required to do so, as with all approved apparitions.

I wouldn’t say it is the “source” of the proposed fifth marian dogma, but more like the “impetus.” The source would obviously be Sacred Scripture and/or Sacred Tradition.

Here’s some more basic info on it:

Here’s Dr. Mark Miravalle talking about it on You Tube:

What a lot of people find troubling is the prayer to Our Lady of All Nations that came out of the apparition:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, send now Your Spirit over the earth. Let the Holy Spirit live in the hearts of all nations, that they may be preserved from degeneration, disaster and war. May the Lady of All Nations, who once was Mary, be our Advocate. Amen

I bolded the part that made everyone a bit uneasy. Theologians asked the seer (Ida Peerdeman) to take that part out, which she did. But then Mary asked her to put it back in. Miravalle explains the phrase as being indicative that she has been graced with a greater title. For example, you might say “Pope Benedict XVI, who once was Joseph.” He’s still Joseph, but his cooperation with grace has merited a greater title for him that deserves respect. So it is with Mary.

Of course, no one is required to pray the prayer or believe in the apparition.


The Council of Constantinople in 553:

This Council taught that the Virgin Mary is the Mother of God and issued an anathema against all who would deny that she is the Mother of God. The decree used the term ‘ever-virgin Mary’ to refer the Virgin Mary. However, there was no solemn definition of this term, nor any anathema directly concerned with Mary’s perpetual virginity, nor any decree which could be considered as possibly offering an infallible solemn definition of Mary’s perpetual virginity. The mere mention of a term within a solemn decree does not establish that term as infallible when that term is not specifically defined and infallibly taught.

The Lateran Council in 649 was not an Ecumenical Council, so it lacked the ability to issue a solemn definition.

Again, I am not disputing that Mary is ever-virgin. I am suggesting that either it is not a dogma, or that dogmas include teachings in addition to solemn definitions of Popes and Ecumenical Councils.

Genesis315, are you saying that dogmas include teachings under the Universal Magisterium, as well as solemn definitions?

[Note: I wish that this thread would stay on topic. I think it would be better to start a separate thread on Ida Peerdeman]


Hey Ron,

If you want a very good study course on the Blessed Virgin, I can highly recommend the Catholic Home Study Service and their excellent course called, CHRIST’S MOTHER AND OURS.
[LEFT]It should help immensely. It did me. I’m currently finishing their course on prayer.


If dogmas include teachings under the Universal Magisterium, what other teachings about Mary are dogmas?

A list of possibilities:

her sinless life
her role as Spouse of the Holy Spirit
her perfect imitation of Christ
her role as Mother and figure of the Church
her participation in the Passion of Christ
her Queenship in Heaven
her role in Divine Providence
her role in directing the angels


Most of these are corallaries of the proposed fifth marian dogma of Mary’s Maternal Mediation (Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces, Advocate). Her role of Maternal mediation would cover 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and possibly 2. That’s why the proponents of the 5th Marian dogma go to great lengths to say that it is teaching nothing new. It is simply making dogma that which is already taught and believed about Mary.

#1 is related to the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption. The Immaculate Conception says she was conceived without Original Sin, and the fact that she was assumed into heaven illustrates her sinlessness throughout life (as God did not allow the body of sinless Mary to undergo corruption).


De fide dogmas do not require a solemn definition. For example, it is an infallible dogma that Sacred Scripture is without error. Yet, this too lacks a solemn definition.

According to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger:

the absence of error in the inspired sacred texts” is an infallible, immutable dogma of the Catholic Church, “to be believed as divinely revealed,” and is “***of divine and catholic faith which the Church proposes as divinely and formally revealed and, as such, as irreformable.***” This Catholic dogma “require[s] the assent of theological faith by all members of the faithful. Thus, whoever obstinately places them in doubt or denies them falls under the censure of heresy” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Doctrinal Commentary on Professio Fide, approved and promulgated by Pope John Paul II).

According to Dr. Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma:

"Mary conceived by the Holy Ghost without the co-operation of man." (De Fide)" (p. 204)

“Mary bore her Son without any violation of her virginal integrity” (De Fide on the ground of the general promulgation of doctrine)."*** (p. 205)

"After the Birth of Jesus Mary remained a Virgin (DE FIDE)" (p. 206).

Pope St. Siricus (392) rejected the contrary teaching of Bonosus (Denzinger 91). The Fifth General Council (553) gave Mary the title “perpetual virgin” (Denzinger 214, 218, 227). The Liturgy also describes Mary as the “perpetual Virgin.” Scripture indirectly attests to this doctrine from the question Mary gives to the angel Gabriel (Lk 1:34): “How shall this be done, because I know not man?” it is inferred that she had resolved to remain perpetually virgin.

This doctrine was affirmed by Origen, ST Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St.Epiphanius, and St. Basil, the latter stated: ***“The friends of Christ do not tolerate hearing that the Mother of God ever ceased to be a virgin” ***(Hom. in S. Christi generationem n. 5., as cited by Ott., ibid., p. 207). St. John Damascene too calls Mary the “ever-virgin one” in De Fide Orth. Bk IV, ch. 14.


Catholic Dogmatic theology is a field of study which has systematic principles common to it. When these principles are adhered to, the level of theological certainty with regard to magisterial teachings can be discerned with better consistency. However, like other fields of study, there can be dispute among theologians as to whether teaching X is merely *sententia certa *and not yet *de fide ecclesiastica. *A measure of theological certainty is when all Catholic schools of theology reach a consensus on some magisterial teaching. They HAVE done so with regard to the four marian dogmas, while other doctrines have much less consensus among Catholic theological schools.

The rule of faith is to teach as the Church teaches, to “think with the Church” as St. Ignatius Loyola stated.

With that said, I have found that whether something is *sententia certa *or de fide is more an academic concern of theologians, and not very important to faithful Catholics, who are obliged to assent to each, whether it is de fide or not. Faithful Catholics need not be “theologians.” Even simple fisherman can “obey your leaders and submit to them” (Heb 13:17), as God’s Word demands.

St. Pius X seemed to lament some dissidents who were using the “form” of the pope’s teaching as an excuse for disobedience when he wrote this allocution against dissident priests:

“[W]hen we love the Pope, we do not dispute whether he commands or requires a thing, or seek to know where the strict obligation of obedience lies, or in what matter we must obey; when we love the Pope we do not say that he has not yet spoken clearly – as if he were required to speak his will in every man’s ear, and to utter it not only by word of mouth but in letters and other public documents as well. Nor do we cast doubt on his orders, alleging the pretext which comes easily to the man who does not want to obey, that it is not the Pope who is commanding, but some one in his entourage. We do not limit the field in which he can and ought to exercise his authority; we do not oppose to the Pope’s authority that of other persons – no matter how learned – who differ from the Pope. For whatever may be their learning, they are not holy, for where there is holiness there cannot be disagreement with the Pope.” [Pope St. Pius X, allocution to dissident priests, November 18, 1912]

Those who love the pope do not look for theological excuses to dissent with his manifest mind and will. [Not that I claim you are dissenting…but some have often either purposefully or accidentally mischaracterized the pope’s teaching as an excuse to dissent]. We simply submit to our lawful pastors in charity, according to their manifest mind and will, insofar as they teach in accord with their pastor and within the scope of their authority.


It cannot be the case that a teaching becomes a dogma when all or most theologians agree. Dogmas are infallible due to the teaching authority of the Church, not due to the adherence to particular teachings by theologians.

In my view, a teaching becomes an infallible dogma by virtue of being infallibly taught by the Magisterium, either as a solemn definition or under the Universal Magisterium.

As for the claim that all these many other teachings of the Magisterium about Mary fall under the role of co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocatrix, these other teachings have been taught for a longer period of time, more extensively throughout the Church, and so are much more firmly established. Nor is there any magisterial teaching that would place all these other teachings as mere corollaries of the so-called fifth dogma.

This idea that there are only five dogmas originated with private revelation, as did the idea that this so-called fifth Marian dogma is last. Even the practice of referring to this role as a dogma originated with a claimed private revelation. There is no basis outside of that claimed private revelation for saying that there are and can be only five Marian dogmas. The idea that all teachings about Mary must be categorized under five ideas was invented to defend a claim (the fifth and final Marian dogma) that is found only in private revelation.

Dogmas cannot be based on private revelation; they have to have Tradition and Scripture as their source.


A teaching becomes infallible dogma because it was revealed by God. The magisterium is a witness to that teaching, and expounds and defends that teaching. Theologians have no magisterial authority (unless also among the college of bishops in union with the Roman Pontiff). They too have authority to teach, although this authority is not direct, but delegated from, dependent upon, and bounded by magisterial authority.

I think you misunderstand the distinction between “material dogma” and “formal dogma.” All DOGMAs are revelations from God. That’s the AUTHORITY of dogma, not theological consensus. However, as St. Augustine affirmed “A question from an adversary is an occassion for learning.” Consequently, dogmas do formally and authentically develop. The increase in our proper understanding and teaching material dogma is how formal dogma develops.

According to Dr. Ludwig Ott’s *Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma:

2. Development of Dogmas in the Catholic Sense
a) From the material side of dogma, that is, in the communication of the Truths of Revelation to humanity, a substantial growth took place in human history until Revelation reached its apogee and conclusion in Christ (cf. Hebr. I, I).
St. Gregory the Great says: “With the progress of the times the knowledge of the spiritual Fathers increased; for, in the Science of God, Moses was more instructed than Abraham, the Prophets more than Moses, the Apostles more than the Prophets” (in Ezechielem lib. 2, horn. 4, 12).

With Christ and the Apostles General Revelation concluded. (sent. certa.)

Pope Pius X rejected the liberal Protestant and Modernistic doctrine of the evolution of religion through “New Revelations.” Thus he condemned the proposition that: “The Revelation, which is the object of Catholic Faith, was not terminated with the Apostles.” D 2021.

The clear teaching of Holy Writ and Tradition is that after Christ, and the Apostles who proclaimed the message of Christ, no further Revelation will be made. Christ was the fulfilment of the Law of the Old Testament (Mt. 5, 17 ; 5, 21 et seq), and the absolute teacher of humanity (Mt. 23, 10: “One is your master, Christ” ; cf. Mt. 28, 20). The Apostles saw in Christ: “the coming of the fullness of time” (Gal. 4, 4) and regarded as their task the preservation, integral and unfalsified, of the heritage of Faith entrusted to them by Christ (1 Tim. 6, 14; 6,20; 2 Tim.1, 14; 2,2; 3,14). The Fathers indignantly repudiated the claim of the heretics to possess secret doctrines or new Revelation of the Holy Ghost. St. Irenaeus (Adv. haer III 1 ; IV 35, 8), and Tertullian (De praesc. 21) stress, against the Gnostics, that the full truth of Revelation is contained in the doctrine of the Apostles which is preserved unfalsified through the uninterrupted succession of the bishops.

b) As to the Formal side of dogma, that is, in the knowledge and in the ecclesiastical proposal of Revealed Truth, and consequently also in the public faith of the Church, there is a progress (accidental development of dogmas) which occurs in the following fashion.

INDENT Truths which formerly were only implicitly believed are expressly proposed for belief. (Cf. S. th. I; II, 1, 7 : quantum ad explicationem crevt numerus articulorum (fidei), quia quaedam explicite cognita sunt a posterioribus, quae a prioribus non cognoscebantur explicite. There was an increase in the number of articles believed explicitly since to those who lived in later times some were known explicitly, which were not known explicitly by those who lived before them.

(2) Material Dogmas are raised to the status of Formal Dogmas.

(3) To facilitate general understanding, and to avoid misunderstandings and distortions, the ancient truths which were always believed, e.g., the Hypostatic Union (unio hypostatica), Transubstantiation, etc., are formulated in new, sharply defined concepts.

(4) Questions formerly disputed are explained and decided, and heretical propositions are condemned. Cf. St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 2, 1 ; ab adversario mota quaestio discendi existit occasio (a question moved by an adversary gives an occasion for learning).[/INDENT]The exposition of the dogmas in the given sense is prepared by theological science and promulgated by the Teaching Authority of the Church under the direction of the Holy Ghost (John 14, 26).

See the Introduction of Dr. Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma here for more.


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