Catholic Group's Proposal to Make Mary 'Divine' Creates Conflict

For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church has held the Virgin Mary at a higher level than other Christian churches. Now, however, over 6 million Catholics have petitioned the pope to elevate Mary’s status to a dangerously high level that would make her almost equal with Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity.

The Christian religion, at its core, affirms that Jesus died so that all people may have eternal life. To declare at this point that the Virgin Mary’s cooperation with God and suffering at the cross also saved humanity from sin would overturn basic Christian beliefs and drive a huge wedge between Catholics and non-Catholic Christians.

The special devotion that Catholics have for the Virgin Mary stems from the fact that she accepted God’s will and became the mother of Jesus. Catholics believe that she lived her life without sin and, upon her death, was taken into heaven, body and soul. She is now seen as an intercessor or mediator between people and God. Although some may misinterpret it as such, the devotion that Catholics have for the Virgin Mary is essentially different from the adoration that they have for God. The Catholic Catechism clearly articulates that difference.

A group known as “”Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici,”” or “”Voice of the People for Mary Mediatrix,”” is calling on the pope to proclaim a new dogma bestowing upon Mary the titles coredemptrix, mediatrix of all graces and advocate for the people of God. These titles essentially imply that Mary uniquely participated in the redemption of all people from sin and that all graces that come from Jesus come through the intercession of Mary. Adopting such language and proclaiming it as infallible dogma, which is what Vox Populi is calling on the pope to do, would bring the church into uncharted and dangerous territory.

If Catholics currently want to believe that Mary contributed to the salvation of people by acknowledging God’s will and giving birth to his son, that is fine. Many Catholics have a strong devotion to Mary. Many pray to her as an intercessor on a daily basis. Many credit her with bringing them closer to God. If Catholics want to give her that extra credit, they may, but to force all Catholics to accept that idea would be a mistake.

If I help lead a person to God or to the church, I can say that I have participated in that person’s redemption. At the same time, however, I would acknowledge that the power came originally from God and that I was only an instrument of God. Similarly, Mary was an instrument of God. We praise her and honor her for her willingness to cooperate with God, but we do not worship her, nor should we elevate her to the point where she becomes divine.

Father Rene Laurentin, a French monk and leading Mary scholar, was recently quoted in the San Diego Union-Tribune saying, “”Mary is the model of our faith, but she is not divine. There is no mediation or co-redemption except in Christ. He alone is God.”” Laurentin’s words sum up the opinions of the majority of Christians on the matter.

Mary’s status within the Catholic Church is one of the main dividing lines between Catholics and non-Catholic Christians.

Pope John Paul II, the current leader of the Catholic Church, has shown a special personal devotion to the Virgin Mary. He credits her with saving his life in an assassination attempt 20 years ago. At the same time, he has also shown a commitment to ecumenism and unity among all Christian churches. In his 1994 book, “”Crossing the Threshold of Hope,”” the Pope devotes three chapters to the topic of ecumenism titled “”Is Only Rome Right?”” “”In Search of Lost Unity”” and “”Why Divided?”” The pope noted then that in the first millennium, the church was undivided, while the second millennium was marked by division. He called for increased unity by the start of the third millennium.

In light of these words, it would not make sense for him to start this millennium with a proclamation that would not only widen the divide between Catholics and other Christians, but also cause division within the Catholic Church among Catholics who disagree with such dogma.

In his book, the pope stated, “”All of us, in fact, believe in the same Christ. … So there is basis for dialogue and for the growth of unity, a growth that should occur at the same rate at which we are able to overcome our divisions — divisions that to a great degree result from the idea that one can have a monopoly on truth.”” If the pope were to issue a statement that many Christians inside and outside the Catholic Church disagree with, and claim infallibility in doing so, he would be going against his own words and ideas regarding ecumenism.

The pope is a very intelligent man and wise leader of the Catholic Church. He should not and will not make a statement that is unnecessary and will cause widespread division in the Christian world. Christians and non-Christians alike look up to him; he is a uniting figure. A religious crisis in the world is the last thing he needs to create.