The massive petition drive was launched by Mark Miravalle, a professor at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, during a Marian conference at the school in 1993.
(As a side note, it is interesting to observe that Promise Keepers leaders have spoken at the Franciscan University for the last three years. One of the speakers this year was Promise Keepers Vice President Dale Schlafer. We have documented the Promise Keepers-Roman Catholic connection in our article entitled "THE ROMAN CATHOLIC-PROMISE KEEPERS CONNECTION: THE ART OF DOUBLESPEAK." This was distributed May 7, 1996, through the Fundamental Baptist News Service, and was last updated February 9, 1997.)
Reports on the petition drive have appeared widely both in Catholic and non-Catholic literature. Even the secular world has taken notice. The cover story for the August 25, 1997, issue of Newsweek was "The Meaning of Mary: A Struggle over Her Role Grows within the Church." A full-page artist's conception of Mary was featured on the cover of this influential news magazine.
The July 1 issue of Inside the Vatican, a very conservative Roman Catholic publication with editorial offices in Rome, England, and the United States, was largely dedicated to the Mary petition drive. The lead story was titled "A New Marian Dogma? The Debate Intensifies." We have read many other reports from various perspectives.
Many ecumenical types, both in and out of Rome, are crying out against the petition drive. They worry that such a proclamation would hinder the ecumenical movement toward unity between the Roman Catholic Church and the various other denominations.
In our estimation, this entire matter is a non-issue, a tempest in a teapot, for the following reason: Roman Catholic Popes and Roman Catholic councils have already said that Mary is Co-Redeemer, Mediator, and Advocate. For the pope to make an alleged infallible proclamation would add force to such a doctrine, but it would not be something new. Papal proclamations are not statements of new doctrine but of doctrine already held by the Catholic Church.
Pope John Paul II Has Stated that Mary Is Co-redeemer, Mediator, Advocate
At least five times Pope Paul II has referred to Mary by the title "Co-redemptrix" in his papal teachings. For example, in 1985, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, the pope said: "Mary goes before us and accompanies us. The silent journey that begins with her Immaculate Conception and passes through the 'yes' of Nazareth, which makes her the Mother of God, finds on Calvary a particularly important moment. ... In fact, at Calvary she united herself with the sacrifice of her Son that led to the foundation of the Church; her maternal heart shared to the very depths the will of Christ 'to gather into one all the dispersed children of God' (Jn. 11:52). Having suffered for the Church, Mary deserved to become the Mother of all the disciples of her Son, the Mother of their unity. ... In fact Mary's role as COREDEMPTRIX did not cease with the glorification of her Son" (Inside the Vatican, July 1997, p. 23).
In his general audience address of April 9, 1997, the pope said: "Mary ... co-operated during the event itself [the crucifixion] and in the role of mother; thus her co-operation embraces the whole of Christ's saving work. SHE ALONE WAS ASSOCIATED IN THIS WAY WITH THE REDEMPTIVE SACRIFICE THAT MERITED THE SALVATION OF ALL MANKIND. IN UNION WITH CHRIST AND IN SUBMISSION TO HIM, SHE COLLABORATED IN OBTAINING THE GRACE OF SALVATION FOR ALL HUMANITY. ... In God's plan, Mary is the 'woman' (cf. Jn 2:4; 19:26), the New Eve, united to the New Adam in restoring humanity to its original dignity. Her cooperation with her Son continues for all time in the universal motherhood which she enjoys in the order of grace. Trusting in this maternal cooperation, LET US TURN TO MARY, IMPLORING HER HELP IN ALL OUR NEEDS" (Vatican Information Service).
In his general audience for July 30, the pope continued his theme of talks on Mary, saying: "As the Mother of all the Lord's disciples (cf. Jn 19:26), MARY OFFERS HER INTERCESSION AND AID TO ALL WHO JOURNEY TOWARDS THE FULLNESS OF THE LORD'S KINGDOM. As the Bride and Temple of the Holy Spirit, she encourages us to imitate her openness to the workings of the Spirit and to live in constant, loving communion with the Blessed Trinity."
Pope John Paul II has exalted Mary even in his most official documents. In his encyclical Redemptoris Mater (Mother of the Redeemer), published March 25, 1987, the pope referred to Mary as "Mediatrix" three times, and as "Advocate" twice. The entire third section is dedicated to the theme of "Maternal Mediation." I have all of these papal encyclicals in my library.
There is no question that Pope John Paul II believes that Mary is co-redeemer with Christ, mediator of all grace, and advocate who intercedes for the saints. While it is uncertain whether or not he will make a papal proclamation of this as official dogma (most reports coming out of the Vatican say he will not do this), the fact remains that he accepts and promotes these false doctrines about Mary.
John Paul II has so exalted Mary that he praised HER for saving him from death from an assassin's bullet on May 13, 1981, and he has dedicated himself totally to her. On May 12, 1982, one year after the attempted assassination, the grateful pope journeyed to the Fatima Mary shrine to thank Mary for his protection. In his speech at Fatima, he said: "... on regaining consciousness [after being shot], my thoughts turned immediately to this sanctuary to place in the heart of the heavenly Mother my thanks for having saved me from danger. I saw in everything that was happening--I never tire of repeating it--a special motherly protection of Our Lady. ... it is always with emotion, the same emotion of the first time, that I place in the hands of Mary Most Holy all the good that I may have done or that I shall do in the service of the holy Church. At this time, here in the sanctuary of Fatima, I wish to repeat now, before all of you: Totus Tuus--'all yours'--O Mother! I ask that you offer me, me and all these brethren, hiding and covering our poverty WITH YOUR MERITS and those of your divine Son, to the Father of mercy, in homage and gratitude" (John Paul II, address at Fatima, May 12, 1982, Pope John Paul II: Mother of the Church, edited by Seamus O'Byrne, Mercier Press, Cork, Republic of Ireland, 1987, pp. 50-53).
Other Popes Have Said That Mary Is Co-redeemer, Mediator, Advocate
Many popes have exalted Mary as mediator and advocate. Examples are Pius IX (1846-1878), Leo XIII (1878-1903), Pope Pius X (1903-1914), Pope Pius XI (1922-1939), and Pius XII (1939-1958). During a radio message concluding the Jubilee of the Redemption, April 28, 1935, Pius XI gave the title Co-redemptrix to Mary.
Alphonsus Mary de Liguori
One of the respected Roman Catholic authorities on Mariology is Alphonsus Mary de Liguori (1696-1787), who was canonized as a saint by Pope Gregory XVI on May 26, 1839. He was declared a "Doctor of the Church" in 1871 by Pope Pius IX. Liguori has his own special day on the Roman Catholic calendar, that being August 1st. On this day, the official prayer to be made by Catholic people on behalf of Liguori asks God that they may be "taught by his admonitions."
Liguori, or "Saint" Alphonsus, wrote on many subjects, but he is particularly famous for his admonitions in regard to the Catholic Mary. In 1750, at age 54, he published The Glories of Mary, a book which has been translated into many languages and which has wielded vast influence in the Roman Catholic Church.
Some will doubtless argue that it is unfair to use a 200-year-old book to define Catholic doctrine. Not so. Liguori's book is authoritative today, and it does represent official Catholic doctrine. Liguori's works underwent a rigorous examination and received the unqualified approval of the Catholic Church. His works were tested 20 times by the rules of Urban VIII and Benedict XIV, and the resulting judgment was that they did not contain "one word worthy of censure." Liguori's book The Glories of Mary was pronounced to be without error by Pope Pius VII in 1803 and by Pope Leo XII in 1825. Pope John Paul II has acknowledged Liguori's influence in his own affection for Mary.
Pius VII (1800-1823) was so infatuated with Liguori that he had his grave opened and had three fingers of his right hand cut off and taken to Rome, saying, "Let those three fingers that have written so well for the honor of God, of the Blessed Virgin and of religion, be carefully preserved and sent to Rome" ("Some Preliminary Observations by the Editor," The Glories of Mary, St. Louis: Redemptorist Fathers, 1831, p. 20).
Liguori's book continues to be published today with the official imprimatur [Latin meaning "Let it be printed"] of various Catholic authorities. The edition I have has the Imprimatur of Cardinal Hayes of Brooklyn, New York, and is sanctioned by Patrick Murray, Superior General of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, Jan. 1, 1931. Chapter titles include Mary our Queen, Mary our Life, Mary our Hope, Mary our Help, MARY OUR MEDIATRESS, MARY OUR ADVOCATE, Mary our Guardian, Mary our Salvation, and Mary's Immaculate Conception. Consider an excerpt from this book which does not contain ONE WORD worthy of censure by the Catholic Church. The following quotation from the section on Mary, our Mediatress, gives a taste of the entire book--
"St. Antoninus says the same thing: 'All graces that have ever been bestowed on men, all came through Mary.' And on this account she is called the moon, according to the following remark of St. Bonaventure: 'As the moon, which stands between the sun and the earth, transmits to this latter whatever it receives from the former, so does Mary pour out upon us who are in this world the heavenly graces that she receives from the divine sun of justice. Again, the holy Church calls her 'the happy gate of heaven;' for as the same St. Bernard remarks: 'as every mandate of grace that is sent by a king passes through the palace-gates, so does every grace that comes from heaven to the world pass through the hands of Mary.' St. Bonaventure says that Mary is called 'the gate of heaven, because no one can enter that blessed kingdom without passing through her'" (The Glories of Mary, pp. 159-160).
The Glories of Mary is filled with citations from various "saints" of the Catholic Church. Its authority is of the very highest order (in a Catholic sense).
Louis Marie de Montfort
Another Catholic "saint," Louis Marie de Montfort (1673-1716), has had a vast influence within the Catholic Church in promoting the veneration of Mary. In his autobiography, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, John Paul II states that his devotion to Mary was developed from de Montfort's writings. "Thanks to Saint Louis of Montfort, I came to understand that true devotion to the Mother of God is actually Christocentric, indeed, it is very profoundly rooted in the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity, and the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption" (p. 213). De Montfort was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XII on July 20, 1947. A church feast honors him on April 28th of each year. The following are the words of Pius XII in 1947 on the occasion of the canonization of de Montfort: "All the saints were undoubtedly great servants of Mary, and they all led souls to her. ... AS OUR ADVOCATE, placed between God and the sinner, SHE TAKES IT UPON HERSELF TO INVOKE THE CLEMENCY OF THE JUDGE SO AS TO TEMPER HIS JUSTICE, to touch the heart of the sinner and to overcome his obstinacy. Convinced by his own personal experience of Mary's role, the missionary [de Montfort] declared ... that never did a sinner resist him after he had touched him with a rosary." The pope extolled the "saint's" writings because of "his firm conviction of THE POWERFUL INTERCESSION OF MARY."
Louis de Montfort is most famous for his book True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. This is the book which so powerfully influenced Pope John Paul II. The copy in my library contains an official Nihil obstat and Imprimatur which "are a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free from doctrinal or moral error." It was published in 1987 by Montfort Publications, Bay Shore, New York, "with ecclesiastical permission." Consider an excerpt from this influential Catholic publication which is free from doctrinal error:
"Mary is the supreme masterpiece of Almighty God and he has reserved the knowledge and possession of her for himself. ... Mary is the sealed fountain and the faithful spouse of the Holy Spirit where only he may enter. She is the sanctuary and resting-place of the Blessed Trinity where God dwells in the universe, not excluding his dwelling above the cherubim and seraphim. ... Mary is the earthly paradise of Jesus Christ ... the vast and divine world of God ... the magnificence of the Almighty ... Every day, from one end of the earth to the other, in the highest heaven and in the lowest abyss, all things preach, all things proclaim the wondrous Virgin Mary. ... ACCORDING TO ST. BONAVENTURE, ALL THE ANGELS IN HEAVEN UNCEASINGLY CALL OUT TO HER: 'HOLY, HOLY, HOLY MARY, VIRGIN MOTHER OF GOD.' They greet her countless times each day with the angelic greeting, 'Hail Mary,' while protrasting themselves before her, begging her as a favour to honour them with one of her requests. ... The whole world is filled with her glory..." (pp. 3,4).
"MARY HAS RECEIVED FROM GOD A FAR-REACHING DOMINION OVER THE SOULS OF THE ELECT. Otherwise, She could not make her dwelling-place in them as God the Father has ordeered her to do, and she could not conceive them, nourish them, and bring them forth to eternal life as their mother. She could not have them for her inheritance and her possession and form them in Jesus and Jesus in them" (p. 15).
"To Mary alone God gave the keys of the cellars of divine love and the ability to enter the most sublime and secret ways of perfection, and lead others along them. Mary alone gives to the unfortunate children of unfaithful Eve entry into that earthly paradise where they may walk pleasantly with God and be safely hidden from their enemies" (p. 18).
"THE SALVATION OF THE WORLD BEGAN THROUGH MARY AND THROUGH HER IT MUST BE ACCOMPLISHED" (p. 20).
"Since SHE IS THE SURE MEANS, THE DIRECT AND IMMACULATE WAY TO JESUS and the perfect guide to him, it is through her that souls who are to shine forth in sanctity, must find him" (p. 21).
"The most fearful enemy that God has set up against the devil is Mary, his holy Mother" (p. 22).
We could continue with these quotations (the book is 185 pages long), but there is no need. It is obvious that many of the most exalted and influential saints of the Catholic church venerated Mary as co-redeemer, co-mediator, and advocate of the saints. The popes have already proclaimed that this is true doctrine. They have already pronounced that the writings of the most radical Mary worshipers are "without error." There is no need for a formal statement from Pope John Paul II.
We will give one final example of papal exaltations of Mary. Pope Pius IX, concluded his decree declaring the Immaculate Conception in 1854 by invoking Mary as "the most powerful MEDIATRIX AND CONCILIATRIX in the whole world."
Vatican Councils Have Given Mary the Title Co-redeemer, Mediator, Advocate
Vatican Council II, which was held in the mid-1960s, also referred to Mary as Mediator and Advocate. Note the following citation:
"Joined to Christ the head and in communion with all his saints, the faithful must in the first place reverence the memory of the glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ... Because of the gift of sublime grace she far surpasses all creatures, both in heaven and on earth... The IMMACULATE VIRGIN PRESERVED FREE FROM ALL STAIN OF ORIGINAL SIN, WAS TAKEN UP BODY AND SOUL INTO HEAVENLY GLORY, when her earthly life was over, and EXALTED BY THE LORD AS QUEEN OVER ALL THINGS, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords (cf. Apoc. 19:16) and conqueror of sin and death" (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, chap. 8, I, 52,53; II, 59, pp. 378,381-382).
"Rightly, therefore, the Fathers see Mary not merely as passively engaged by God, but as freely cooperating in the work of man's salvation through faith and obedience. FOR AS ST. IRENAEUS SAYS, SHE BEING OBEDIENT, BECAME THE CAUSE OF SALVATION FOR HERSELF AND FOR THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE. Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert with him in their preaching ...' death through Eve, life through Mary.' This UNION OF THE MOTHER WITH THE SON IN THE WORK OF SALVATION is made manifest from the time of Christ's virginal conception up to his death" (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, chap. 8, II, 56, pp. 380-381).
"Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home. THEREFORE THE BLESSED VIRGIN IS INVOKED IN THE CHURCH UNDER THE TITLES OF ADVOCATE, HELPER, BENEFACTRESS, AND MEDIATRIX" (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, chap. 8, II, 62, pp. 382-383).
There can be no doubt from these citations of formal Catholic documents (and a great many others could be mentioned) that Mary has been considered a mediator and advocate by the Roman Catholic Church for centuries. Contrariwise, the Bible forbids us to think of Mary in this way. Regardless of what the pope does in response to the petition drive, those who love the Bible and receive it as the sole authority for faith and practice must reject Rome for its blasphemous false doctrines which exalt Mary to a position which belongs exclusively to Jesus Christ. He alone is mediator; he alone is redeemer; he alone is immaculately conceived. Mary does not share in these things in any sense whatsoever. To claim that she does is presumptuous blasphemy. Furthermore, Mary is not the Queen of Heaven nor can she hear and answer prayers.
Those who love the Bible already reject Romanism on the basis of these false dogmas. On the other hand, those who are not convinced already that Rome is a false church will not be convinced no matter what new thing the pope proclaims in his alleged infallibility.
The last time a pope made a dogma about Mary was on November 1, 1950, when Pope Pius XII stated that Mary was "preserved free from all guilt of original sin," "taken up body and soul into heaven," and "exalted as Queen of the Universe."
On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX issued the bull Ineffabilis Deus, which proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
October 1, 2009 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service)