Question regarding Mary's role in Salvation

I have a question regarding Mary’s role in salvation.

A friend of mine is a critic of Roman Catholic theology (he’s not anti-catholic though) and he had this to say about Mary:

“Mary has no role in the salvation of man whatsoever. Promoting Mary to the position of co-mediatrix and co-redemptrix along with Christ is a vile heresy that is both offensive and blasphemous. By raising Mary to such a position, you insult Mary and reject Christ.”

While I think his position is an understandable one, I would like clarification as to what the Roman Catholic church teaches about Mary’s role in Salvation. Does Mary become equal to God (i.e. equal to Christ) when she becomes co-mediatrix and co-redemptrix? If so, how is this biblically supported? How does the RCC explain this theology? Explanations (and links to articles in the right direction) would be great.

God Bless

Here are tidbits from an article Compiled by Martin Beckman
Mary as Coredemptrix: An Explanation

When the Church invokes Mary under the title, “Coredemptrix”, she means that Mary uniquely participated in the redemption of the human family by Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. At the Annunciation (cf.Lk.1:38) Mary freely cooperated in giving the Second Person of the Trinity his human body which is the very instrument of redemption, as Scripture tells us: “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb.10:10).

And at the foot of the cross of our Saviour (Jn.19:26), Mary’s intense sufferings, united with those of her Son, as Pope John Paul II tells us, were, “also a contribution to the Redemption of us all” (Salvifici Doloris, n.25). Because of this intimate sharing in the redemption accomplished by the Lord, the Mother of the Redeemer is uniquely and rightly referred to by Pope John Paul II and the Church as the “Coredemptrix.”

It is important to note that the prefix “co” in the title Coredemptrix does not mean “equal to” but rather “with”, coming from the Latin word cum. The Marian title Coredemptrix never places Mary on a level of equality with her Divine Son, Jesus Christ. Rather it refers to Mary’s unique human participation which is completely secondary and subordinate to the redeeming role of Jesus, who alone is true God and true Man.

Mary’s role was unique. If she had said ‘no’ to Gabriel … to God, would we have a Savior, would we have our true Redeemer … our Lord … the Messiah? Mary played a definite role in our salvation. But back to the original statement … that role is entirely dependent and subordinate on Jesus.

Mary is called to give her free and full consent to conceive this child. She is not merely a passive recipient of the message, but she was given an active role, and heaven awaited her free choice. It is precisely by her free consent to collaborate in God’s saving plan that she becomes the Coredemptrix. The prophecy of Simeon to Mary, “and a sword will pierce through your own soul also” (Luke 2:25), affirms Mary’s unique participation in the work of redemption, as it warns her that she will undergo an unspeakable pain that will pierce her soul, for the salvation of mankind. John 19:25 tells us of Jesus’ Mother at the very foot of the cross, persevering with her Son in his worst hour of agony, and therein suffering the death of her Son.

Thus in her own suffering too, the Mother of the Redeemer participates in the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ.

St. Paul tells us we are to make up what is lacking in the sacrifice of Jesus (Col 1:24): “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,”

Paul is making a very similar statement here also. By his sufferings he is completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the church and us. This is a role we all can partake … but this role is dependent on Christ and subordinate to Christ.

That is all that statement about Mary is saying. Mary had a role, a contribution in filling what was lacking in us, the Church. It’s a very biblical statement.

Jesus Christ as true God and true man redeems the human family, while Mary as Coredemptrix participates with the Redeemer in his one perfect Sacrifice in a completely subordinate and dependent way. The key word here is “participation” in that which is exclusively true of Jesus Christ. The title “Coredemptrix” never puts Mary on a level of equality with our Lord; rather, it refers to Mary’s unique and intimate participation with her divine Son in the work of redemption. “Coredemptrix” is a Latin word; the prefix “co” in the title, “Coredemptrix,” derives from the Latin word “cum,” which means “with,” not “equal to.” Mary’s sufferings are efficacious towards the redemption of man because they are wholly rooted in the redemptive graces of Christ and are perfectly united to His redeeming will. Similarly, as Mediatrix, the Mother of Jesus does not “rival” Christ’s mediation but rather participates in the one mediation of Jesus Christ. Imagine water from a reservoir reaching the people through a system of aqueducts or channels. By analogy, Jesus is the infinite “reservoir” of all grace, which is distributed to us through Mary … as she gave birth to Jesus. Jesus, the one mediator, does not exclude secondary, subordinate mediators.

Catholics do agree wholeheartedly that Jesus is the one and only mediator between man & God. No question … the bible teaches this … the Catholic Church teaches this. No subordinate co-deities, no additional redeemers, no additional mediators! Clear enough?

But what about our role in bringing people to Christ, preaching the Gospel, as teachers, pointing people to Christ … and so on? We can be mediators in that fashion. Surely you do not disagree that faith comes from (by grace) from receiving the gospel message.

This is not saying we are mediators between Jesus and God for mankind … but we can have a subordinate & dependent role.

This isn’t adding to Jesus’ mediatorship, not a seperate channel, not an end-run, or anything that takes away from His role.

No Mary never becomes equal to God, even if we do use those titles for her.

Do we not at times pray for our family and friends? And many times they ask us for our prayers. So, we are being a mediator, or an intercessor.

When we suffer in various ways we can offer up that suffering in union with Christ to help purify us, and hopefully obtain graces for others. ("…making up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ") - That doesn’t mean anything is lacking in Christ’s suffering for us. I have heard it explained that we are joining our suffering with Christ for our good and the good of others.

Catholics believe that Mary is sinless, and a great woman of faith who freely and continually chose God’s will over hers. Everything she has comes from the Lord. Picture Mary as a pane of glass with no smudges, in which the Light of the Holy Trinity shines through perfectly. She has perfect humility…she is nothing by herself, but the pure grace of God shines through her.

We are to imitate Christ, and he certainly loved his mother! She even said in the bible, “…for henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”

To Declare Mary as Mother of Humanity

ROME, 11 FEB. 2008 (ZENIT)

Five cardinals have sent a letter inviting prelates worldwide to join them in petitioning Benedict XVI to declare a fifth Marian dogma they said would “proclaim the full Christian truth about Mary.”

The text, released last week, includes the petition that asks the Pope to proclaim Mary as “the Spiritual Mother of All Humanity, the co-redemptrix with Jesus the redeemer, mediatrix of all graces with Jesus the one mediator, and advocate with Jesus Christ on behalf of the human race.”

The signatories of the letter are five of the six cardinal co-sponsors of the 2005 International Symposium on Marian Coredemption, held in Fatima: Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi, India; Cardinal Luis Aponte Martínez, retired archbishop of San Juan, Puerto Rico; Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, India; Cardinal Riccardo Vidal, archbishop of Cebu, Philippines; and Cardinal Ernesto Corripio y Ahumada, retired archbishop of Mexico City.

Cardinal Edouard Gagnon, who died last August, was the sixth cardinal co-sponsor of the 2005 conference. He was the president of the Pontifical Council of the Family from 1974 until he resigned in 1990.

The secretariat of the five cardinal co-patrons released the English translation of the letter, which includes a translation and the original Latin text of the “votum,” or petition, that was formulated in 2005 and presented formally to the Pope by Cardinal Telesphore in 2006.

The petition states: “We believe the time opportune for a solemn definition of clarification regarding the constant teaching of the Church concerning the Mother of the Redeemer and her unique cooperation in the work of Redemption, as well as her subsequent roles in the distribution of grace and intercession for the human family.”


Pointing to ecumenical concerns, the petition continues: “It is of great importance …] that people of other religious traditions receive the clarification on the highest level of authentic doctrinal certainty that we can provide, that the Catholic Church essentially distinguishes between the sole role of Jesus Christ, divine and human Redeemer of the world, and the unique though secondary and dependent human participation of the Mother of Christ in the great work of Redemption.”

The text adds that the move would be “the ultimate expression of doctrinal clarity at the service of our Christian and non-Christian brothers and sisters who are not in communion with Rome.”

In a press statement released along with the letter, the cardinal co-sponsors reiterated the same ecumenical concern and said the proclamation of a fifth Marian dogma would be a “service of clarification to other religious traditions and to proclaim the full Christian truth about Mary.”

The statement added, “This initiative also intends to start an in-depth worldwide dialogue on Mary’s role in salvation for our time. …] Should this effort prove successful, a proclamation would constitute a historical event for the Church as only the fifth Marian dogma defined in its 2,000-year history.”

Cardinal Aponte Martínez, one of the cardinal co-patrons said: "I believe the time is now for the papal definition of the relationship of the Mother of Jesus to the each one of us, her earthly children, in her roles as co-redemptrix, mediatrix of all graces and advocate.

“To solemnly proclaim Mary as the spiritual mother of all peoples is to fully and officially recognize her titles, and consequently to activate, to bring to new life the spiritual, intercessory functions they offer the Church for the new evangelization, and for humanity in our serious present world situation.”

First, understand that your friend, being non-Catholic, likely does not have a thorough understanding of Catholic theology. It is much more profound, detailed and well-founded than he thinks. It is both logical and scriptural. Please run to the bookstore and obtain a copy of Catholicism for Dummies. It is an invaluable resource, and “should be” provided to each and every RCIA candidate, IMO.

III. On the Blessed Virgin and the Church

  1. There is but one Mediator as we know from the words of the apostle, “for there is one God and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a redemption for all”.(298) The maternal duty of Mary toward men in no wise obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows His power. For all the salvific influence of the Blessed Virgin on men originates, not from some inner necessity, but from the divine pleasure. It flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on His mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it. In no way does it impede, but rather does it foster the immediate union of the faithful with Christ.

On the Council either the Mediatrix and the Mater Ecclesiae title came up for Mary, both were rejected. As far as I know the conservative side rejected too on the above scriptural basis.

For the female side of the Humanity Mary was chosen to cooperate in some special way in the Redemption, from the male side the Nation. Neither reached the level of the Co-Redemptor. Mary was the faithful maidservant of God.

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