Thursday, February 14, 2008

RC's on the BVM - Or - What's a Romanist To Do?

As reported here five cardinals of Rome have begun the process required to persuade the current Bishop of Rome to dogmatize certain Marian dogmas, thereby making them properly de fide. The "money quote" is as follows:

Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of man, gave to humanity from the Cross his mother Mary to be the spiritual Mother of all peoples, the Co-redemptrix, who under and with her Son cooperated in the Redemption of all people; the Mediatrix of all graces, who as Mother brings us the gifts of eternal life; and the Advocate, who presents our prayers to her Son.
The Roman Catholic apologetics community is divided at present. As James Swan reports, Art Sippo says "do it." While Patrick Madrid says otherwise. Carrie has noted that the CA forums are currently voting against this measure.

On the one hand, I think this is a good thing these folks are against it. On the other, I agree with Rhology, who stated he just as soon Rome go ahead and get it over with and then make her the 4th person of the Quaternity. Why?

I say this for the same reason I wish the people in the PCUSA, the Episcopal Church, the UMC, and elsewhere would come clean about other issues. For example, Luke Timothy Johnson, New Testament professor at Emory University, has openly admitted what few liberal Christian defenders of homosexuality will: "I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us."

I can respect that. I disagree with it, but at least it's honest. At least it's consistent. What I can't respect is duplicity. It's the same thing with Mormons who try to portray themselves as just another sort of Christian. Look, if I want to go out and get drunk tonight, I'm not going to dress it up and say it's okay for me but not okay for you. I won't pretend, when I'm doing it that I'm not willfully in sin.

That said, I think this presents an interesting conundrum for our Roman Catholic friends. So, I have a question. If Rome is, indeed as you say and defend on this blog and elsewhere, the One True Holy Apostolic Church, and this measure does indeed pass such that it become de fide. What will you do?

A. Will you change your views on this to comport with your ecclesiastical betters?
B. Will you quietly protest and remain in the pew?
C. Will you look elsewhere?

It seems to me that the only consistent answer is "A." In the words of "Andre."
It is not a matter of whether she ought to be elevated or not. If she is dogmatically pronounced as Co-Redemptrix, the decision will have come from Heaven,not from men, and so if Heaven wills her to be pronounced as such, let it be done according to His will.
By the way, some of the other comments are interesting, particularly those that say that she "chose" to be Christ's mother. How acontextual a reading of Luke is that? She was chosen. She does not use her "free will" to accept an offer. She's told what is going to happen to her, and she rejoices in it. Roman Catholics make great Arminians...


  1. "the Co-redemptrix, who under and with her Son cooperated in the Redemption of all people."

    I'm glad that Mary "cooperated" with God or else we "all" would be on the road to hell.

    Sorry for the sarcasm.

  2. Gene, my brother in Christ:

    You asked me this very good question over on "Beggars All" regarding what would or should a Catholic do in the event "Rome" were to teach or require idolatry. It is an excellent question that we who claim that the Church's authority is instituted by Christ and still stands today ought to consider if we are prepared to follow Christ wherever He leads.

    I attempted to apply my meager talents to addressing it in combination to a similar question asked by Rho. Because of the heavy combox traffic there, and the fact that my answer to you was part of an answer to another, you might have missed my reply: so for your convenience, I paste it here, verbatim:


    " question would be similar to Gene's. What consequence would it have upon your faith as a RC if Mary were indeed infallibly declared to be Co-Redemptrix?

    Rhology and Gene, my brothers:

    This is such an excellent hypothetical question, my heart actually jumped at reading it! (Don't get too excited: I have a heart condition--but still, this is a superb question.)

    For the sake of discussion let's set aside the fact that such a ruling is now highly unlikely, especially with Benedict as Pope (The quote was from a time before his election.)--as given his view, he might state she should never be so named.

    First, let's look at Rhology's explicit question above. Were the Church to infallibly declare that Mary shall be known as Co-redemptrix, let's assume at this point that this "Co" would nevertheless contain the understanding that this "with" is one of agency, not of origin, as Benedict said: that is, with the unique role of Jesus as the one whose act alone actually redeems. As I said before, I believe doing this would be a mistake for the same reasons Benedict cites. This language is absurdly confusing, and in my personal view if taken at face value is far too complicated to work out for the average theologian, let alone the schoolchildren that would be taught it.

    In spite of my personal misgivings I would submit to the authority of the Church, because no act of prudence requires me to defy the Bishop's command and as it is not an act of idolatry (It would be horrible communication that would only facilitate misunderstanding IMHO) it would be lawful, though very difficult. Were I ever tasked to teach Catholic theology, I would indeed teach it… as carefully as possible to help avoid confusion. This would indeed by a sticky situation-especially for those who would then have to use time and effort defending the faith from without and within against such misunderstandings this would cause. The misunderstandings already caused by the informal use of this title have been bad enough.

    But let’s go farther and imagine (God forbid it—literally) that the Church were to rule an abomination that any created being is actually one in being with the Father, as are the Son and the Holy Spirit: one God and True God: a fourth member of the “Holy Quadernity.” For discussion, let’s set aside as conjecture my own confidence that this simply could not happen.

    Such a ruling would clearly violate prudence: Neither I nor any Christian could adopt this doctrine as truth without risking hellfire and damnation. In such cases Catholics have the right and duty to defy the bishop. It would be up to the Special Magisterium to correct him. In the event that the Magisterium would fail to correct him, it would be left to the entire body of Christ to correct. There have been rare instances when the Special Magisterium has deposed a Pope (interestingly, I believe one of the Benedicts was deposed.).

    It is for this reason that I personally have great sympathy for the reformers. I know sola fide is unbiblical and in error: that fide is necessary, but it cannot be sola; yet these men (and many millions of other intelligent people today) believed it is at the very heart of the Gospel. Were I to oppose an intractable Church on a matter of prudence: of salvific import—such as elevating a being to the status of God Almighty, I could well imagine having to endure being denied the sacraments, trusting God for His grace, regardless. In all things unrelated to the heresy I would remain submitted to the bishop (including discipline), for I would not leave the Church, even if excommunicated from her sacraments. I have great sympathy for the Reformers; however, I also believe they were wrong.

    If you are familiar with the history of Francis of Assisi, you might know that upon his audience with The Pope, the poor and humble monk lectured him on the effect of the excesses of his comfort and earthly ease--that he could not be silent for the sake of his very soul’s need—and he was ejected from the chamber. Francis did not leave the Church. It was not until this same pope had a disturbing dream that the Church edifice was collapsing around him while this same monk who admonished him was entered and held up the building, that he repented. The "Franciscan Reformation" was on. The Pope had Francis brought back, apologized for the ejection and authorized the order of Franciscans which still operates in charity and service today.

    Speaking for myself only, were I ever faced with so terrible a situation where prudence required me to actually defy the bishop, I pray I would be more Francis than Luther. Although it is not a fair comparison: these were very different times--both men came to a point of standing, where they could do no more. One man gave up. The other did not.

    The above I humbly submit as your servant and brother in Christ,
    10:27 AM, FEBRUARY 15, 2008