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Mary is not the Co-Redeemer (Co-Redemptrix)
Bro. Peter Dimond
It's an infallibly defined dogma that Jesus Christ alone is the Redeemer.
This dogmatic definition, that Christ alone is our Redeemer, even mentions Mary. So, in the very context of mentioning the Blessed Virgin and the saints, the Council of Trent declares that Christ alone is the Redeemer. That proves that Mary is not the Co-Redemptrix.
Florence’s definition is even more to the point in refuting the false position on this matter. It solemnly defined that Jesus Christ ALONE (solus) laid low the enemy of the human race, destroyed man’s sins, and opened up the gates of Heaven. Those who obstinate cling to ‘Co-Redemptrix’ profess that Jesus Christ did it with Mary. That is false. Note that these are dogmatic statements of the highest authority, not fallible statements.
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)
The key portion for this discussion says: “qui… solus sua morte” (i.e. who... alone by His own death) laid low the enemy of the human race, opened Heaven, destroyed man’s sins, etc. That is what the Catholic Church firmly believes, professes and teaches: that Jesus Christ alone redeemed man. To hold to the title ‘Co-Redemptrix’ is to profess that Jesus Christ did so with Mary. It is not consistent with this dogmatic definition, and this is the highest pronouncement of the Church. Everything is to be understood in light of this, not the other way around. Everything must be corrected to match this, not the other way around. Those who obstinately refuse to profess that Jesus Christ ALONE did these things don't profess what the Catholic Church does.
These facts should be sufficient for a believing Catholic to see that Mary should not be called Co-Redeemer or Co-Redemptrix.
It’s interesting that the Catechism of the Council of Trent also teaches that Christ “alone” redeemed us and that Christ “alone” is the Redeemer. While the catechism is not infallible, it reiterates the truth that was solemnly defined in the aforementioned councils.
To maintain that Mary is “Co-Redemptrix” in light of the dogmatic definitions above - which infallibly declare that Jesus alone is our Redeemer - one would literally have to hold that there is no contradiction between these two statements:
Joshua walked into the desert alone
Joshua walked into the desert with Margaret
Is there a contradiction between these two statements? Of course there is a contradiction. They both cannot be true at the same time. Likewise, Jesus and Mary cannot be our Redeemers (Jesus in a greater way, Mary in a lesser way) if Jesus alone is our Redeemer. As a formal doctrinal title applied to Mary, “Co-Redemptrix” is clearly wrong. This is not in any way to diminish Mary’s unique role in our salvation and in the events leading up to the Redemption. It is simply to state the truth. Beware of phonies and false devotees of Our Lady who will agree with any statement which appears to praise her, even if it is not consistent with Catholic teaching. Jesus Christ alone is the Redeemer. Only God – and God alone – could ransom us back and “destroy our sins.” These dogmatic definitions are definitive. Hence, they should prove the point to any Catholic, despite a handful of statements which seem to suggest the contrary but which don’t hold infallible authority. However, we’ve been disappointed by the fact that some people just aren’t satisfied with the dogmatic definitions. They insist on calling Mary Co-Redemptrix or Co-Redeemer, even after seeing these dogmatic definitions. This is problematic. They are deviating from dogmatic truth.
ST. ROBERT BELLARMINE AFFIRMS THE SAME TRUTH
In his book On Christ, St. Robert Bellarmine says the following.
FR. JOSEPH POHLE SAYS THE 'COREDEMPTRIX' TITLE IS MISLEADING
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.
THAT CHRIST ALONE IS THE REDEEMER, AND THAT MARY IS NOT CO-REDEMPTRIX, IS ALSO SHOWN BY THE ORIGINAL SIN AND BY THE TYPOLOGY OF ADAM AND EVE
Here’s another way of showing why it’s incorrect to call Mary “Co-Redemptrix.” Most people who engage in Catholic apologetics agree that Jesus Christ is the second Adam. That’s made clear in the New Testament (1 Cor. 15:45).
Consistent with the typology of Jesus as the second Adam who reverses the curse of Adam, Mary is the new Eve. Jesus is the new Adam, and Mary is the new Eve. Just as Eve, the first woman, was intimately involved with the first man in the events which led up to the fall of mankind, there is a woman, Mary, who is intimately involved in the events leading up to the Redemption. Eve disobeyed God and sinned. Mary obeyed God and never sinned. Much more could obviously be said on this issue; but the point here is that while Eve’s role with Adam in the events leading up to the original sin was unique and crucial, it was nevertheless the sin of Adam alone which constituted the original sin and effectuated the downfall of mankind. That’s very clear in Catholic teaching.
THE COUNCIL OF TRENT AND ST. THOMAS CONFIRM THAT IT WAS ADAM’S SIN ALONE WHICH PLUNGED THE WORLD INTO DEATH;
LIKEWISE, IT WAS CHRIST ALONE WHO REDEEMED THE WORLD
The idea that Mary is formally “Co-Redemptrix” would be consistent with the idea that the original sin was the sin of Adam and Eve. But that’s not Catholic teaching. In fact, in the following passage, St. Thomas dismisses such a notion. He says that it was not the sin of two that constituted the original sin and the downfall of mankind.
Notice that St. Thomas rejects the idea that it was the sin of two which constituted the original sin. Moreover, the Council of Trent is quite clear that the original sin is the sin of Adam alone, not the sin of Adam and Eve. Eve certainly sinned; but Adam’s sin alone effectuated the downfall of mankind and brought death into the world.
St. Robert Bellarmine taught the same thing.
The Council of Trent says over and over that it was “the sin of Adam,” never once asserting that it was the sin of “Adam and Eve.” It even says that this sin was that of one man and “one in origin.” Therefore, even though Mary’s role was unique and integral to the events which led up to the Redemption, the Redemption itself was effectuated by Christ alone. That’s why Jesus Christ alone is the Redeemer and only He should be called such.
THE FALL OF MANKIND
Adam and Eve intimately involved in the events leading up to it
Adam’s sin alone constituted the original sin and effectuated the fall
“...this sin of Adam -- which in its origin is one…” (Trent, Sess. 5 on Original Sin)
Jesus and Mary intimately involved in the events leading up to the Redemption
Jesus Christ alone effectuated the Redemption
“JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD, WHO ALONE IS OUR REDEEMER and Savior” (Trent, Sess. 25)
REFUTING A COMMONLY MADE FALSE ARGUMENT ON THIS POINT – THE IDEA THAT MARY IS A SUB-REDEEMER UNDER THE ONE REDEEMER
Now I must refute an argument that is frequently made by defenders of Mary as “Co-Redemptrix.” In an attempt to show that Mary is Co-Redemptrix, people will often argue that Mary is a lesser redeemer under the one redeemer, just as St. Paul and other saints are said to help carry out the work of Redemption. For instance, one Michael C. wrote to us and said:
They argue that Mary is called Co-Redemptrix in the sense that holy figures and saints can be called redeemers who help carry out the work of Christ’s redemption, such as St. Paul says of himself.
They also point out that Moses was, in a sense, called a redeemer because he delivered the people in the Old Testament. However, all of these arguments are specious and inconsistent with their actual position. Allow me to illustrate why, in employing this argument, they have actually abandoned their position that Mary is formally Co-Redemptrix uniquely with Christ. Their argument has now turned into this:
SPECIOUS ARGUMENT THEY EMPLOY IN AN ATTEMPT TO PROVE THE POINT, BUT IT'S ILLOGICAL AND THEY ABANDON THEIR POSITION WHEN MAKING IT
LESSER REDEEMERS WITH/UNDER THE ONE REDEEMER
Mary – “Co-Redemptrix”
St. Paul (Col. 1:24)
Moses in a sense
In attempting to defend Mary as “Co-Redemptrix,” they employ an argument which is represented by the box above. They say Mary is the “Co-Redemptrix,” just as others (e.g. St. Paul) help carry out the work of Redemption. The big problem for them is that this is not their position.
As I pointed out in response to Michael C.: This argument fails miserably. It contains a false analogy which isn't logically consistent with their position. Their position is, in reality, that Mary is formally Co-Redemptrix with Christ. In other words, the position of Co-Redemptrix is that Our Lady, in regard to the Redemption, belongs in a unique category with Christ. But according to the argument they are now employing (illustrated in the box above), Mary is merely in the same category with the other saints who participate in the work of Redemption under the one Redeemer (such as St. Paul, Col. 1:24). According to that argument, she is just one of numerous co-redeemers. Thus, attempting to defend their false position, they have abandoned and contradicted their position.
The position of Co-Redemptrix is not that Mary is in a category with the saints under the one Redeemer, and can be called co-redeemer in a sense just like St. Paul is said to help fill up the work of Redemption. No, the position of Co-Redemptrix is that Mary is in a unique category with Jesus as the Redeemer – a category which does not include St. Paul or any other saint. Therefore, one cannot try to substantiate the “Co-Redemptrix” position by appealing to how other saints participate in the work of Redemption under the one Redeemer. That’s illogical and fallacious.
Thus, while the box above represents the way they argue, the following box illustrates their actual position on Mary as “Co-Redemptrix.”
THE ACTUAL POSITION OF MARY AS “CO-REDEMPTRIX,” WHICH IS ABANDONED AND CONTRADICTED WHEN THEY MAKE THE ABOVE ARGUMENT
Mary as Co-Redemptrix
LESSER REDEEMERS UNDER THE TWO REDEEMERS
St. Paul (Col. 1:24)
The other saints
Moses in a sense
This box is a true representation of their position. They hold that Mary (in terms of the Redemption) is in a category with Jesus that does not belong to the other saints. It is different not just in degree, but in kind from St. Paul, etc. Thus, all the arguments they bring forward that St. Paul, the other saints, etc. can be loosely called “redeemers” do not support their position. When they argue in that fashion, they are contradicting their position and asserting that Mary is just one of many co-redeemers.
Hence, if they were to legitimately attempt to defend their position, they could only advance arguments which favored the position that she belongs on the left side of the box uniquely with Jesus. They cannot make arguments from people or examples on the right side of the box. When they make arguments from examples on the right side of the box, they are contradicting their position and admitting that she is just one of many people who can loosely and in certain non-literal senses be called “co-redeemers.” But their arguments contradict their position because their position is false.
INTER SODALICIA OF POPE BENEDICT XV
OBJECTION- In his March 22, 1918, document Inter Sodalicia, Pope Benedict XV teaches that Mary has redeemed the world with Christ.
ANSWER- Simply put, Benedict XV's statement in this document is flat out wrong. Many people cite the Latin title of this letter (Inter Sodalicia) as if it’s some major or authoritative document of a pope. Well, it's not. The truth is that Inter Sodalicia was a letter of Pope Benedict XV to the Sodality of Our Lady of a Happy Death. In other words, it's basically a letter of the pope to a prayer group. It's not addressed to the universal Church. It's not an encyclical. It's not in any way infallible. Popes teach infallibly when teaching the universal Church on faith or morals in an authoritative way. This letter is nothing in comparison to the dogmatic proclamations on this topic, which solemnly define with precision for the entire Church what the true position is and what Catholics must believe, profess, and maintain.
The teaching of the Council of Florence (not to mention the teaching of Trent and the Catechism of Trent) certainly contradicts this statement of Benedict XV in his letter to the prayer group. Popes can make mistakes in their fallible capacity, as Church history shows. That's what happened in Benedict XV’s letter. In fact, it was a lack of solicitude for doctrinal precision and dogmatic definitions on the part of pre-Vatican II popes and clerics that led to the Great Apostasy at Vatican II. So, it’s very misleading when supporters of the false title Co-Redemptrix throw around the name Inter Sodalicia as if it’s some major document that proves something when, as shown above, that’s not the case at all. When confronted with Florence's dogmatic definition that Jesus alone (solus) by His death redeemed the world, and Benedict XV's letter to a prayer group which says that Jesus and Mary both did so, the former must be accepted and the latter must be rejected. People who cannot see that simply don't believe in papal infallibility.
The bottom-line is that there is no way of getting around the dogmatic definitions which declare that Jesus Christ alone redeemed the world and that He alone is the Redeemer.
THE FALSE TRANSLATION OF IUCUNDA SEMPER OF POPE LEO XIII
OBJECTION- In his Sept. 8, 1894, encyclical Iucunda Semper, Pope Leo XIII stated:
ANSWER- No, that is not what he said. The translation above, which is commonly cited, is a blatantly false translation. Here's the Latin of the passage:
A proper translation of this is as follows:
As this correct translation shows, Pope Leo XIII does not call Mary the 'Co-Redemptress' in this encyclical.
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