We’ve added the following quote to the article Mary is not the Co-Redeemer (Co-Redemptrix). It’s our translation from the Latin of one of St. Robert Bellarmine works. In this short quote St. Robert affirms the dogmatic teaching of the Church (and the position that we, as Catholics, believe and profess) that Christ alone redeemed us.
St. Robert Bellarmine, De Christo, Book V, Chap. 1: “But Christ Himself alone [solus] paid for us, and reconciled us to God by His own blood.” (our translation from the Latin)
St. Robert’s statement is of course consistent with the infallible dogmatic teaching of Trent and Florence.
Trent infallibly defined that “Christ our Lord, who alone (solus) is our redeemer”.
Pope Pius IV, Council of Trent, Sess. 25, On Invocation, Veneration and Relics of Saints, and on Sacred Images, ex cathedra: “… the saints, who reign with Christ, offer up their prayers to God for men; and that it is good and useful to invoke them suppliantly and, in order to obtain favors from God through His Son JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD, WHO ALONE IS OUR REDEEMER and Savior… And they must also teach that images of Christ, the virgin mother of God and the other saints should be set up and kept… But if anyone should teach or maintain anything contrary to these decrees, let him be anathema.” (Denz. 984)
Florence defined that Christ "alone" laid low the enemy of the human race, etc.
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Cantate Domino” 1441, ex cathedra: “The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes, and teaches that no one conceived of man and woman was ever freed of the domination of the Devil, except through the faith of the mediator between God and men, our Lord Jesus Christ; He who was conceived without sin, was born and died, ALONE BY HIS OWN DEATH LAID LOW THE ENEMY OF THE HUMAN RACE BY DESTROYING OUR SINS, and opened the entrance to the kingdom of heaven, which the first man by his own sin had lost…” (Denz. 711)
Notice that the word "alone", in reference to Christ, applies both to the title "Redeemer" (Trent) and to the act of Redemption (Florence). The Catechism of Trent likewise teaches:
Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part III: The Decalogue – First Commandment – Thou Shalt not Have Strange Gods, etc. – Objections Answered: “True, there is but one Mediator, Christ the Lord, who alone has reconciled us to the heavenly Father through His blood, and who, having obtained eternal redemption, and having entered once into the holies, ceases not to intercede for us.”
That’s quite clear. In terms of the Redemption itself (i.e. the laying low of Satan, the reconciliation of man to God, the opening of Heaven, etc.), it was accomplished by Jesus Christ alone. Mary was not involved. To say otherwise is to contradict the highest pronouncements of the Church.
That’s why the term ‘co-redemptrix’ is not fitting for Mary. But if the work of salvation be spoken about in a more broad way, as including events that led up to the Redemption itself and the dispensing of the work of salvation, then Our Lady of course has a profound and unique role.
Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis (#44), June 29, 1943: "Dying on the Cross He left to His Church the immense treasury of the Redemption, towards which she contributed nothing. But when those graces come to be distributed, not only does He share this work of sanctification with His Church, but He wills that in some way it be due to her action."
However, beware of specious arguments made by people on this topic. They will sometimes quote fallible documents that don’t precisely articulate the aforementioned truth, or passages that speak in a broad way about the overall work of salvation as including the distribution of the merits that Christ won. They will attempt to conflate the latter with the act of Redemption proper. The people who have a problem faithfully affirming that Christ alone is our Redeemer and that He alone redeemed us (which necessarily excludes Mary from that act) are doctrinal liberals. Most of them also believe in the heresy of salvation outside the Church. They don’t believe in papal infallibility. Hence, they fail to rigidly adhere to the dogmatic formulas of the Church and profess what the Church dogmatically professes.
Also consider that pre-Vatican II theologian Fr. Joseph Pohle, in a work published and given an imprimatur before Vatican II, rightly noted that the title 'coredemptrix' is not appropriate for Mary.
Fr. Joseph Pohle, A Dogmatic Treatise On The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother Of God, Imprimatur, 1919: "... it would be wrong to call her [Mary] redemptrix, because this title obscures the important truth that she herself was redeemed through the merits of Jesus Christ by what theologians technically term preredemption. Even the title coredemptrix had better be avoided as misleading. The titles redemptrix and coredemptrix were never applied to the Blessed Virgin before the sixteenth century; they are the invention of comparatively recent writers..."
It’s also noteworthy that many of the adherents of the inaccurate ‘co-redemptrix’ title insincerely claim that they are not saying that Mary had any role in the act of Redemption itself! Yet, at the very same time they advance quotes and arguments explicitly stating that both Jesus and Mary redeemed mankind. That's another example of how when people use or defend the term 'co-redemptrix' they often fall into a contradiction of the aforementioned dogma: that Christ alone laid low the enemy, opened the gates of Heaven, reconciled man, etc.
Sign up for our free e-mail list to see future vaticancatholic.com videos and articles.