In October, Pope Francis attended the worship of the “Pachamama” pagan goddess1 in the Vatican gardens where he blessed the idol.2 Days later, the idol was introduced into St. Peter’s Basilica.3 After five copies of the statuette were thrown into the Tiber,4 he asked forgiveness for the pretended offense. Now, at the Mass he celebrated in St. Peter’s for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, on December 12, Pope Francis criticized traditional devotion to Mary.
New Marian Dogmas Are Deemed Foolishness
Speaking of Mary Most Holy, Pope Francis criticized the titles that the Magisterium of the Church and the devotion of the faithful have lovingly bestowed on the Mother of God, saying they do not reflect the essence of Our Lady’s role, which he minimized to “mother” and “disciple.” In short, “Mary woman, Mary mother, with no other essential title.”5
Pope Francis went so far in his criticism of traditional Mariology that he described the requests by cardinals, bishops, priests and faithful to define new Marian dogmas as “tonteras” (foolishness, silliness). From the context, one sees that Pope Francis had Mary’s co-redemption in his crosshairs.
He is offending fifty-five cardinals and 518 bishops who have petitioned the Holy See for a solemn definition of Mary as Co-Redemptrix, among them members of the Curia like Pedro Cardinal Palazzini, Alphonse Cardinal Stickler and M. Luigi Cardinal Ciappi.6
For Pope Francis, honoring Mary with that title would be to “steal” something that belongs to her Son. But this is a Protestant misunderstanding.
Below we provide our English translation of the Pope’s shocking statements. His words in Spanish are given in the footnotes. Then we present pontifical and theological texts on Mary Most Holy—especially on her Co-Redemption—which contradict the Pope’s affirmations entirely.
Unbelievable Words From Papal Lips
(a) Mary’s Essence: Woman, Mother, Disciple, With No Other Essential Title
“Christian piety throughout the ages has always sought to praise [Mary] with new titles: They were filial titles, titles of love from the people of God, but they did not touch at all her being woman-disciple.”7
“Mary woman, Mary mother, with no other essential title. The other titles—think of the Litany of Loreto—are titles of loving children who sing to their Mother, but they do not touch the essence of Mary’s being: woman and mother.”8
(b) She Never Stole Anything From Her Son
“Faithful to her Master, Who is her Son, the only Redeemer, she never wanted to take anything from her Son. She never introduced herself as Co-Redemptrix. No, disciple.9
“She never stole anything from her Son, (but) served Him because she is a mother.”10
(c) Mary Made God “a Mestizo”
“She became a ‘mestiza’ with humanity to be the Mother of everyone … Mother Mary made God a ‘mestizo,’ true God and true Man, her Son. … [she] made God a mestizo.”11
(d) To Ask for New Marian Dogmas Is Foolishness
“When they come with stories that we should declare her this or do that other dogma, let’s not sink into foolishness.”12
What the Church Truly Teaches
Contrary to what Pope Francis affirms—that Mary’s essence consists only in being “woman and mother,” a “woman-disciple”—the Church declared her the Mother of God, Theotokos, at the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D., her Perpetual Virginity, at the Lateran Council of 649, her Immaculate Conception, by Pope Pius IX, in 1854, and her Assumption into Heaven, by Pope Pius XII, in 1950.
In proclaiming this last dogma, the Pope affirmed that “the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”13
In fact, if Mary Most Holy is only “woman and mother,” a “disciple,” what would distinguish her from any good Christian mother? But if she is just an ordinary mother, a mere disciple of Jesus, then would her Son not also be just an ordinary son? Does the abandonment of the concept of Divine Maternity not insinuate the abandonment of the concept of the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ as well, and consequently, of the concept of the Redeeming Incarnation?
God Associated Mary With the Redemption From the Beginning
In the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus (1854) in which he proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Pius IX states that when God decreed the Incarnation, He also chose the Redeemer’s Mother.
“God Ineffable … having foreseen from all eternity the lamentable wretchedness of the entire human race which would result from the sin of Adam, decreed … the Incarnation of the Word … [and] chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world.”14
Thus, it was God who linked the Redemption of the human race to the Divine Maternity. They cannot be separated. Mary, the Redeemer’s Mother, joined in the work of Redemption. That is why Pope Leo XIII teaches that God began “the Redemption of the human race … through her.”15
And, Pius IX states further, the Blessed Mother was filled with such graces that she surpassed in holiness and perfection all creatures, being under God alone:
“Above all creatures did God so love her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.16
Mary’s Co-Redemption Is Subordinated to the Redeemer’s
Does the title Co-Redemptrix affirm an equality between the Blessed Mother and Jesus’s role in the Redemption? No, states Msgr. Arthur Burton Calkins: “In the Latin language from which the term Coredemptrix comes … the meaning is always that Mary’s cooperation or collaboration in the redemption is secondary, subordinate, and dependent on that of Christ.”17
True Catholic Doctrine on Co-Redemption
Although not yet proclaimed as dogma, Mary’s Co-Redemption is Catholic doctrine,18 as the great Mariologist Fr. José A. de Aldama, S.J., stated more than half a century ago in his treatise On the Mother of the Redeemer:
Thesis 9. The Blessed Virgin Mary was associated with Christ the Redeemer in the realization of the work of Redemption and therefore is rightly called Co-Redemptrix.…19
Dogmatic Value. The thesis is true Catholic doctrine having been constantly proposed for a whole century by all the Supreme Pontiffs of the whole Church.20
Although only a few Popes have used the term Co-Redemptrix, this idea is clearly present in their teachings, as this insightful Marian theologian shows.
Co-Redemptrix, A Term Used by Several Popes
Some Popes, however, not only expressed the idea but used the very word Co-Redemptrix. Here are a few examples:
1) Benedict XV (1914-1922):
So did she suffer with her suffering and dying son, and almost die; so did she abdicate her maternal rights over her Son for the salvation of men, and to placate God’s justice, insofar as was fitting for her, so did she sacrifice her Son, that it can properly be said that she with Christ redeemed the human race.21
2) Pius XI (1922-1939):
Oh! Mother of love and Mercy, who were close to your sweet Son when consummating the redemption of mankind on the altar of the cross, suffering with Him as Co-Redemptrix.22
From the nature of His work, the Redeemer ought to have associated His Mother with His work. For this reason, We invoke her under the title of Co-Redemptrix.23
3) John Paul II (1978-2005):
Mary, though conceived and born without the stain of sin, participated in a marvelous way in the sufferings of her divine Son to be Co-Redemptrix of humanity.24
Queen of Heaven
In a radio message to Fatima pilgrims on May 13, 1946, Pope Pius XII summarized with beautiful words the tribute owed to the Queen of Heaven:
Upon triumphantly entering the heavenly homeland, the glorious Virgin was elevated through the blessed hierarchies and angelic choirs to the throne of the Blessed Trinity, who, girding her forehead with a triple diadem of glory, presented her to the heavenly court seated to the right of the immortal King of ages and crowned as Queen of the universe.
And the Empyrean Court saw that she was indeed worthy to receive the honor and empire, because she was incomparably more full of grace, holier, more beautiful, more deified than the greatest saints and the most sublime angels, apart or together; because she is mysteriously related with the whole Blessed Trinity in the order of the hypostatic union with Him Who alone is by essence the infinite Majesty, King of kings and Lord of lords, as firstborn Daughter of the Father, the loving Mother of the Word, and the beloved Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Because she is the Mother of the divine King to Whom the Lord God gave the throne of David and eternal kingship in the house of Jacob from his mother’s bosom (Luke 1, 32-33) and Who proclaimed of Himself, that to Him was given all power in heaven and on earth.(Matt. 28, 18) He, God the Son, reflects upon His heavenly Mother the glory, majesty, and empire of her Queenship because she is forever associated with the King of martyrs in the ineffable work of human Redemption as Mother and Minister with a quasi-immense power to distribute the graces derived from Redemption.(Cfr. Leo XIII, Enc. Adiutricem, September 5, 1895: Acta, vol. XV, pag. 303)25
Pope Pius XII made reference to these beautiful words in 1954, when proclaiming the Queenship of Mary Most Holy.26
Will Pope Francis Apologize?
The Pope apologized to the Pachamama idolaters when replicas of the pagan idol were thrown into the Tiber. Will he also apologize to Mary’s devotees and especially to the Mother of God for his senseless words on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe?
Updated December 28, 2019.
- “Some characteristics of pantheistic pre-Columbian religion have survived in the Indian communities of the Altiplano, especially the worship of Pachamama, the goddess of the Earth.” Peter J. McFarren, and Charles W. Arnade, Encyclopædia Britannica, s.v. “Bolivia,” Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., https://www.britannica.com/place/Bolivia, Nov. 14, 2019, accessed Dec. 19, 2019.
- “Video Shows Pope Francis Blessing Controversial ‘Pachamama’ Statue,” LifeSiteNews on YouTube, Oct. 24, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Wjdkrfj5OI, accessed Dec. 13, 2019.
- Jeanne Smits, “Cardinal Burke: ‘Diabolical forces’ Entered St. Peter’s Basilica Through Pachamama idolatry,” LifeSiteNews, Dec. 10, 2019, https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cardinal-burke-diabolical-forces-entered-st-peters-basilica-through-pachamama-idolatry.
- “I want to say a word about the statues of the pachamama that were taken from the church of the Traspontina—which were there without idolatrous intentions—and were thrown into the Tiber. First of all, this happened in Rome, and, as Bishop of the Diocese, I ask pardon of the persons who were offended by this act.” “Pope Francis Announces Retrieval of Indigenous Statues,” Vatican News, Oct. 25, 2019, https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-10/pope-francis-comments-on-statues-stolen-from-church.html.
- “María mujer, María madre, sin otro título esencial. Los otros títulos—pensemos en las letanías lauretanas—son títulos de hijos enamorados que le cantan a la Madre, pero no tocan la esencialidad del ser de María: mujer y madre.” Homilía del Papa Francisco en la Misa por la Virgen de Guadalupe, ACI Prensa, Dec. 12, 2019, https://www.aciprensa.com/noticias/homilia-del-papa-francisco-en-la-misa-por-la-virgen-de-guadalupe-49320. (Our translation to English and emphasis.)
- See “Ecce Mater Tua” A Journal of Mariology, Vol. 1, Jan. 1, 2018, 9–23.
- “La piedad cristiana a lo largo de los tiempos siempre buscó alabarla con nuevos títulos: eran títulos filiales, títulos del amor del pueblo de Dios, pero que no tocaban en nada ese ser mujer-discípula.”
- “María mujer, María madre, sin otro título esencial. Los otros títulos—pensemos en las letanías lauretanas—son títulos de hijos enamorados que le cantan a la Madre, pero no tocan la esencialidad del ser de María: mujer y madre.”
- “Fiel a su Maestro, que es su Hijo, el único Redentor, jamás quiso para sí tomar algo de su Hijo. Jamás se presentó como co-redentora. No, discípula.” (Our emphasis.)
- “Nunca robó para sí nada de su Hijo, lo sirvió porque es madre.”
- “Se mestizó para ser Madre de todos, se mestizó con la humanidad.… María Madre mestiza a Dios, verdadero Dios y verdadero hombre, en su Hijo. …[Ella] mestizó a Dios.”
- “Cuando nos vengan con historias de que había que declararla esto, o hacer este otro dogma o esto, no nos perdamos en tonteras.”
- Pius XII, Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus defining the dogma of the Assumption, November 1, 1950, http://www.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/en/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_p-xii_apc_19501101_munificentissimus-deus.html, accessed Dec. 20, 2019.
- Pius IX, Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus (on the Immaculate Conception), Dec. 8, 1854, https://www.papalencyclicals.net/pius09/p9ineff.htm.
- Leo XIII, Encyclical Magnae Dei Matris (on the Rosary), no. 10, Sept. 8, 1892, http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_08091892_magnae-dei-matris.html.
- Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus.
- Rev. Arthur Burton Calkins, “Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate in the Contemporary Roman Liturgy,” in Mark Miravalle, ed. Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate—Theological Foundations: Towards a Papal Definition? (Santa Barbara, Calif.: Queenship Publishing, 1995), 49; “The Mystery of Mary Coredemptrix in the Papal Magisterium,” https://www.piercedhearts.org/hearts_jesus_mary/heart_mary/mystery_coredemptrix_papal_magisterium.htm.
- Fr. Sisto Cartechini explains: “A proposition which is taught throughout the Catholic Church, by the Magisterium and in all Catholic schools, is called Catholic doctrine.” Sisto Cartechini, S.J., Dall’Opinione al Domma Valore Delle Note Teologiche (Rome: Edizioni La Civilità Cattolica, 1953), 39.
- José Antonio de Aldama, S.J., “Tratado de Mariología o de la Madre del Redentor,” in Suma de la Sagrada Teología Escolástica, Vol. III, Tr. II, no. 153, https://www.mercaba.org/TEOLOGIA/STE/Vol%20III/Tratado%202/cap_4.htm#Articulo%20%20III, accessed Dec. 5, 2019.
- Aldama, “Tratado de Mariología,” no. 158.
- Benedict XV, Apostolic Letter Inter sodalicia, Mar. 22, 1918, Denzinger-Rhaner (English translation), no. 1978a, note 2. (Our emphasis.)
- L’Osservatore Romano, Apr. 29-30, 1935, 1, in J. B. Carol, O.F.M et alii., Mariologia (Madrid: BAC, 1964), 766. (Our emphasis.)
- Pius XI, “Greetings to Pilgrims Assembled in Rome for the Jubilee of the Redemption,” Nov. 30, 1933, in Domenico Bertetto, S.D.B., ed., Discorsi di Pio XI, 2:1013, in Calkins, “Mary as Coredemptrix.” (Our emphasis.)
- John Paul II, “General Audience of Wednesday, September 8, 1982,” Vatican.va, http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/it/audiences/1982/documents/hf_jp-ii_aud_19820908.html. (Our emphasis.)
- Pius XII, “Anúncio Radiofónico do Papa Pio XII aos Fiéis Portugueses Por Ocasião da Solene Celebração da Coroação de Nossa Senhora de Fatima,” May 13, 1946, https://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/pt/speeches/1946/documents/hf_p-xii_spe_19460513_fatima.html. (Our translation.)
- Pius XII, Encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam (on Proclaiming the Queenship of Mary), Oct. 11, 1954, http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_11101954_ad-caeli-reginam.html.