Request for the definition of the dogma of Mary as Mediatrix, Coredemptrix and Advocate

Explanatory note from the International Marian Research Institute (IMRI) at the University of Dayton:

    During the International Mariological Congress at Czestochowa, Poland, August 18-23, 1996, a meeting composed of representatives from the Marian theological faculties and the Mariological societies was held to consider the advisability of petitioning the Holy See for the dogmatic definition of the Virgin Mary as coredemptrix, mediatrix, and advocate. This meeting at the International Mariological Congress was held at the request of the Holy See. Among the twenty-two members present at the meeting were Rene Laurentin, Stefano de Fiores, S.M.M., Jesus Castellano Cervera, O.C.D., Ignacio M. Calabuig, O.S.M., and Johann Roten, S.M. The moderator of the meeting was Candido Pozo, S.J., president of the Spanish Mariological Society. Representatives from the Orthodox, Reformed, and Anglican churches were also present. There was unanimous agreement at the meeting not to petition the Holy See to make such a declaration at this time. There were two reasons for this decision: the first dealt with the theological clarifications which must first be made, and the second dealt with the ecumenical dialogue.

    In accord with the precedent set at Vatican II, the participants agreed that a doctrinal declaration should not “settle questions which have not yet been fully clarified by the work of theologians” (LG 54); they noted that Vatican II had already stated that the “Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix” (LG 62). Although these titles are in common use, they are subject to ambiguous and different interpretations. The word “coredemptrix” did not appear in the magisterium until the pontificate of Pius XII. Earlier in the twentieth century, Pius XI had formed national commissions to study the possibility of a dogmatic definition of Mary as mediatrix. The pneumatological consequences of calling Mary “advocate” must also be carefully studied.

    The second reason the theologians gave for recommending that the Holy See not define these Marian prerogatives dealt with the ecumenical dialogue. In the encyclical Ut unum sint, Pope John Paul II outlined a path for ecumenical dialogue among all the followers of Christ. The various churches should explore the common ground that unites them together as followers of Christ. He suggests that all Christians consider the Virgin Mary as “Mother of God, icon of the Church, spiritual mother who intercedes for all the disciples of Christ and for the whole of humanity” (n. 79). The theologians wished to follow the line of dialogue as outlined in the encyclical as the way to promote unity among all the churches. Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and the Reformed were united at Jasna Gora to consider the role of the Virgin Mary in the mystery of Christ. This dialogue at Jasna Gora presents an example of an exchange of views which searches for common ground and which brings together and unites.

Author/editor(s): Theological Commission of the Pontifical International Marian Academy
Date: 23 Aug. 1996
Protocol: ARCIC-II 472
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Theological Commission of the Pontifical International Marian Academy. Request for the definition of the dogma of Mary as Mediatrix, Coredemptrix and Advocate, ARCIC-II 472 (23 Aug. 1996).

Archival formats and locations:
  • ARCIC-II 472 (Not yet scanned)
  • Osservatore Romano 4 June 1997 (Italiano)

Request for the definition of the dogma of Mary as Mediatrix, Coredemptrix and Advocate

Theological Commission of the Pontifical International Marian Academy

The twelfth International Mariological Congress, held at Częstochowa (Poland) in August 1996, was asked by the Holy See to study the possibility and the opportuneness of a definition of the Marian titles of Mediatrix, Coredemptrix and Advocate, as is being requested of the Holy See by certain circles. A commission was established, composed of fifteen theologians chosen for their specific preparation in this area, so that together they could discuss and analyze the question through mature reflection. In addition to their theological competence, care was also taken to ensure the greatest possible geographical diversity among the members, so that any possible consensus would become especially significant. It was also sought to enrich the study group by adding, as external members, some non-Catholic theologians who were present at the Congress. The commission arrived at a twofold conclusion.

1. The titles, as proposed, are ambiguous, as they can be understood in very different ways. Furthermore, the theological direction taken by the Second Vatican Council, which did not wish to define any of these titles, should not be abandoned. The Second Vatican Council did not use the title “Coredemptrix”, and uses “Mediatrix” and “Advocate” in a very moderate way (cf. Lumen Gentium, 62). In fact, from the time of Pope Pius XII, the term “Coredemptrix” has not been used by the papal Magisterium in its significant documents. There is evidence that Pope Pius XII himself intentionally avoided using it. With respect to the title “Mediatrix,” the history of the question should not be forgotten: in the first decades of this century the Holy See entrusted the study of the possibility of its definition to three different commissions, the result of which was that the Holy See decided to set the question aside.

2. Even if the titles were assigned a content which could be accepted as belonging to the deposit of the faith, the definition of these titles, however, in the present situation would be lacking in theological clarity, as such titles and the doctrines inherent in them still require further study in a renewed Trinitarian, ecclesiological and anthropological perspective. Finally, the theologians, especially the non-Catholics, were sensitive to the ecumenical difficulties which would be involved in such a definition.

The commission included Father Pavao Melada, O.F.M. and Father Stefano Cecchin, O.F.M., the President and Secretary respectively of the Pontifical International Marian Academy, Father Cándido Pozo, S.J. (Spain), Father Ignacio M. Calabuig, O.S.M. (Marianum – Rome), Father Jesús Castellano Cervera, O.C.D (Teresianum – Rome), Father Franz Courth, S.A.C. (Germany), Father Stefano De Fiores, S.M.M. (Italy), Father Miguel Angel Delgado, O.S.M. (Mexico), Father Manuel Felicio da Rocha (Portugal), Father Georges Gharib (Melkite – Syria), Father Réné Laurentin (France), Father Jan Pach, O.S.P.P.E. (Poland), Father Adalbert Rebic (Croatia), Father Jean Rivain (France), Father Johann Roten, S.M. (USA), Father Ermanno Toniolo, O.S.M. (Italy), Mons. Teofil Siudy (Poland), Father Anton Ziegenaus (Germany), Canon Roger Greenacre (Anglican – England), Dr. Hans Christoph Schmidt – Lauber (Lutheran – Austria), Father Ghennadios Limouris (Orthodox – Constantinople), Father Jean Kawak (Orthodox – Syria), Prof. Constantin Charalampidis (Orthodox – Greece).