Fifth Marian Dogma

Our Lady’s Coredemption, Part II

In the preceding sections we have attempted to establish the fact of Our Lady’s Coredemption understood in the proper sense. We have done this by appealing to the Magisterium, Sacred Scripture, and Tradition. Regardless of the shortcomings latent in our examination of these sources, one thing remains undeniable: the vast majority of theologians and Catholic writers at the present time unhesitatingly favor the doctrine under discussion. This fact alone sufficiently guarantees the legitimacy of our position, donec contrarium probetur. However, as St. Augustine so well expressed it: “Non aequaliter mente percipitur, etiam quod in fide pariter ab utrisque recipitur.” (1) Which means that even among those who champion the thesis of Mary’s proximate co-operation in the redemptive work of Christ, different opinions have been advanced with regard to the more intimate nature and extent of that co-operation. It may be helpful to summarize here the various points of contact and divergence in this matter.

IV. Nature and Modalities of Mary’s Coredemption

The advocates of Mary’s Coredemption sensu proprio are morally unanimous on the following phases of the doctrine: 1. Our Lady’s free consent to become the Mother of the Redeemer as such constituted a true, formal co-operation in the Redemption; 2. Together with Christ and under Him, Mary satisfied (at least de congruo) for the sins of mankind, thus removing the obstacle to our reconciliation with God in actu primo; 3. Together with Christ and under Him, Our Lady merited (at least de congruo) the reinstatement of the human race in the friendship of God in actu primo; 4. Together with Christ and under Him, Our Lady offered up the divine Victim to the Eternal Father, particularly on Calvary, for the reconciliation of man with God in actu primo; 5. Our Lady’s merits and satisfactions, pre-eminently those resulting from her bitter compassion, were accepted by the Eternal Father together with the merits and satisfactions of Christ as having the nature of a secondary ransom or redemptive price for our liberation from the slavery of Satan; 6. Any one of these functions, and a fortiori the combination of them, confers on Our Blessed Lady a strict right to be styled “Co-redemptrix” of the human race sensu vero et proprio.

The area of disagreement is not as wide as it might appear on the surface. It may be reduced to the three following points: 1. the nature of Mary’s coredemptive merit; 2. the nature of her sacrifice; and 3. the nature of her influence or causality with reference to the redemptive actions of Christ.

As regards the first point, it may be well to recall that merit, meaning “a right to a reward,” is generally divided in condign and congruous. The former supposes an equality between the meritorious action and its reward; the latter is based on fittingness coupled with the generosity of the one granting the reward. Condign merit may be of two kinds: either ex toto rigore justitiae, if there is equality not only between the meritorious work and the reward, but also between the persons giving and meriting the reward; or ex mera condignitate, if the latter equality is wanting. (2)

While theologians are agreed that Christ alone merited our Redemption de condigno ex toto rigore justitiae, they are divided as to the nature of Our Lady’s coredemptive merit. The majority still believes that hers was only a merit de congruo, inasmuch as it was fitting that God should reward her unique co-operation with the Redeemer in our behalf. (3) A second group proposes that it be designated by a new name, namely, merit de digno or de super-congruo. (4) This would differ from our merit, not in species, but in degree, and also insofar as the object of Mary’s merit is the Redemption itself, while the object of our merit is only the application of the Redemption. Others, finally, uphold the theory that Our Lady merited our Redemption de condigno; not, of course, ex toto rigore justitiae, but only ex mera condignitate, in the sense explained above.

Condensed in a few words, the reasoning supporting this last theory is this: Our Lady was not a mere member of the Mystical Body; she co-operated in our Redemption in an official capacity, as a public person, as a representative of mankind. Specifically, since God had predestined her to regenerate the human race to the supernatural life of grace, her merit in the acquisition of that grace must have had an “ecumenical” character in behalf of the whole Mystical Body. In this sense we may speak of her merits having an intrinsic ordination to the salvation of all. Furthermore, dignified to an ineffable degree by her singular grace and the divine Maternity, her merit must have been likewise proportionate to the reward to be received. If this utterly unique function of Mary in the redemptive economy was the result of a positive divine decree, then surely God owed it to Himself to reward her merits not only out of fittingness, but in justice.

This opinion, which until a few decades ago was looked upon with considerable suspicion, (5) is now finding increasing support among contemporary theologians. True, the reasoning process varies according to authors, (6) but their conclusions coincide with the one indicated above, which, incidentally, expresses also our personal preference on the subject.

The second point of divergence concerns the nature of Mary’s co-operation by way of sacrifice. That Our Lady had a positive share in our Redemption through her offering of the Victim on Calvary is clearly taught by recent Pontiffs (7) and, of course, admitted by all. The disagreement begins when theologians attempt to determine whether or not that offering constituted a sacrificial act sensu proprio. The question is particularly delicate because of the related discussion concerning the so-called priesthood of Mary. A good deal has been written in recent years in an effort to clarify the issues involved and to reconcile conflicting opinions; unfortunately, the noble endeavor has not been wholly successful.

In view of the multiplicity of terms employed by the various authors in this connection, it is difficult to group their views under clearly defined headings. In general, however, two currents of thought are easily discernible. The first, represented by such well-known writers as Seiler, Petazzi, Sauras, and Llamera, claims that Our Lady’s oblation constituted a sacrificial and sacerdotal act in a true and proper sense. (8) They explain that, while Mary did not receive the sacramental character of Orders, nevertheless she was invested with a true priesthood, analogous to the substantial priesthood of Christ and far superior not only to the mystical priesthood shared by all Christians, but also to the ministerial priesthood of those properly ordained. If we believe Prof. Bover, Mary’s elevation to the divine Motherhood was already an “ordination to the priesthood.” (9) According to Sauras, her “ordination” was constituted by the unique grace of her spiritual maternity, analogously to the capital grace of the Savior. (10)

The other current, diametrically opposed to the first, reflects the views of the majority. Among the more articulate representatives of this trend we may mention Garcia Garces, Roschini, and Friethoff. (11) They readily agree with their adversaries that Mary’s oblation on Calvary, so often recalled in recent papal documents, constituted a true co-operation in the Savior’s redemptive sacrifice; but they emphatically deny—and rightly so—that this co-operation shared the formality of a true and proper sacrifice. The fundamental reason for this position would seem to be that, in order to offer a sacrifice sensu proprio, one must be a priest sensu proprio, and Our Lady was not. Her priesthood is of the same kind as that of all the baptized, although of a higher degree because of her singular grace and dignity. Perhaps it is for this very reason that the Holy See has repeatedly frowned on the use of the title “Virgin-Priest” as applied to the Blessed Virgin. (12) Incidentally, this controversial title, so tenaciously vindicated by some, does in no way help our proper understanding of Mary’s share in the sacrifice of her Son. It adds nothing but confusion to an already difficult and thorny question. In our humble opinion it should be banished from our Catholic literature, both theological and devotional. The extremely cautious attitude of the Holy See in this respect should be a warning to all. (13)

As mentioned before, the third point of discrepancy concerns the modality of Mary’s immediate co-operation with Christ in the Redemption itself. A survey of contemporary theologians discloses at least three different approaches in this connection. According to some, Our Lady not only did not place any obstacles to prevent the redemptive mission of her Son, but she also encouraged, entreated, and urged Him to lay down His life for our salvation. This moral causality on her part exerted an immediate influence on the will of Christ and directly determined the positing of His redemptive acts. This seems to be the position of Merkelbach, Seiler, and Strater. (14) Merkelbach, for example, writes that “as the Son was moved to obey the command of His Father (to suffer and die), so He could not help being influenced likewise by His Mother’s consent. . . . Through her consent and desire, Mary morally influenced her Son and disposed Him to accomplish the Redemption of the human race….” (15)

According to a second group of theologians, (16) Our Lady’s immediate co-operation should be explained rather in the sense that her own merits and satisfactions were accepted by the Eternal Father together with (and subordinate to) the merits and satisfactions of Christ for the selfsame purpose: the reconciliation of the human race in actu primo. In other words, the total effect was produced by the joint causality of the Redeemer and the Coredemptrix; both acquired a right to the graces which would save all men; both constituted (though in a different way) the total principle of salvation. Hence, Our Lady’s co-operation was redemptive, not because it directly influenced and determined Christ’s redemptive will or His theandric actions, but rather because the actions of Christ conferred a redemptive value on Mary’s co-operation, thus enabling it to concur in the production of the same effect. (17)

A third theory, not necessarily incompatible with the second, was proposed a few years ago by the Hungarian Jesuit, Tiburtius Gallus. According to the distinguished theologian, the Blessed Virgin, being the true Mother of Christ, had a strict right to protect her Son’s life from unjust aggressors. By surrendering this right, she removed an impediment to her Son’s sacrificial immolation, and thus furnished the material principle for the redemptive act. The obedience of Christ to His Father’s will decreeing His sacrifice has a twofold causality: first, by a priority of nature, it elevates and actuates Mary’s obedience for the same purpose; second, it becomes, together with Mary’s obedience, the efficient cause of the entire redemptive work. Hence, our Redemption depends on Christ’s renunciation as a formal element, and on Mary’s renunciation as a material element. The latter, Gallus explains, is not merely accessory; it is necessary inasmuch as it is required by divine disposition. The two elements constitute one single moral cause of the Redemption. Furthermore, since Christ’s obedience imprints its soteriological character on Mary’s co-operation, her merits in our behalf become coredemptive de condigno, and not merely de congruo. (18)

If we were to express our personal preference in this delicate question, we would say that, while the first and third theories are not devoid of appealing features, nevertheless, the second seems better calculated to safeguard the reality of Mary’s Coredemption, without in the least compromising the intangible rights of the unique Redeemer.

V. Difficulties and Solutions

In the course of the foregoing exposé we have had occasion to recall that, while the doctrine of Our Lady’s Coredemption enjoys the support of most contemporary theologians, nevertheless there are some authors who still find it difficult, if not altogether impossible, to conciliate this teaching with other irrevocable data of divine revelation. Their difficulties and pointed observations deserve a fair and dispassionate hearing at this time. The formulation of adequate answers and solutions should furnish us with an additional opportunity to shed further light on some of the apparently nebulous issues involved.

The first objection is based on Sacred Scripture, particularly on the well-known text of St. Paul: “For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a redemption for all.” (19) That the Apostle is here openly proclaiming the oneness of the Redeemer to the exclusion of any other, acting even in a secondary capacity, is clear from the parallelism which he establishes with the oneness of God. Just as the oneness of God is incompatible with the existence of secondary gods, so is the oneness of the Mediator (Redeemer) incompatible with the existence of secondary mediators or redeemers. So argues Prof. Werner Goossens. (20)

The objection is not new. It has been raised—and answered—countless times, particularly since the sixteenth century. It may be observed, in general, that if the oneness of the Mediator were as absolute as Goossens contends, it would exclude likewise the mediatorial activity of all the saints in the sphere of the subjective Redemption. Quod nimis probat, nihil probat. Even in the light of the parallelism stressed by the author, one could perhaps point out that, just as the oneness of God does not exclude our sharing His divine nature through sanctifying grace, neither does the oneness of the Mediator exclude an analogous participation of Our Lady in His mediatorial role. (21) That St. Paul is here speaking only of the principal and self-sufficient Mediator is evident from the fact that he himself elsewhere bestows this very title on Moses. (22) Besides, if the Pauline passage had the exclusive sense claimed by Goossens, would the Magisterium of the Church, the sole official interpreter of Holy Scripture, allow the vast majority of theologians to continue teaching the doctrine of Mary’s Coredemption? Surely, the Popes would have at least sounded a note of warning. Instead, they have repeatedly shown favor to the doctrine, as we indicated above.

A second difficulty springs from the undeniable theological axiom: Principium meriti non cadit sub merito, that is to say, the principle or cause of merit cannot be the result or effect of merit. The implications of this axiom, which have been fully exploited in recent years, particularly by Prof. Lennerz, may be summarized as follows: In order to co-operate in the Redemption, Mary must first be redeemed and in possession of grace which will render her co-operation acceptable to God. Now that redemption of Mary, that grace conferred on her, is, of course, the effect of Christ’s redemptive work. Therefore, the latter must have been already completed before Mary received its effect. If so, how could she aid Christ in producing something which was already produced”? (23)

The answer generally given to the above objection was that Our Lady had been redeemed in a very unique manner, namely, through a preservative grace which enabled her to co-operate with her Son at the time He was bringing about our Redemption. To which Father Lennerz promptly retorted that this was nothing but a subterfuge which left the original difficulty intact. The reason is simple. If Mary received a preservative grace at the time of her Immaculate Conception, it was in view of the future merits of Christ; it was because the future merits of the Savior were foreseen by God and applied to Mary by anticipation. Obviously, this presupposes that the Redemption was foreseen as having been already accomplished; now, since Mary had not as yet co-operated therein, the Redemption would still be incomplete, still unfinished. In which hypothesis the same Redemption would have to be considered as accomplished and unaccomplished at one and the same time, which is contradictory and absurd. (24)

Father Lennerz’ reasoning, which, incidentally, has now been popularized for the benefit of English-speaking readers by Canon George D. Smith, (25) made a profound impression in some quarters. It constitutes, admittedly, the gravest speculative difficulty militating against Our Lady’s Coredemption. Nevertheless, the advocates of this doctrine do not consider it insurmountable. An adequate solution may be formulated as follows:

The alleged contradiction indicated by Lennerz presupposes that we postulate one and the same Redemption as being complete and incomplete under one and the same respect. Now this supposition is false. In our theory, when the Redemption was applied to Mary it was already complete as regards herself only; it was still unaccomplished as regards the rest of mankind. Once Mary has received the effect of Christ’s Redemption, she is able to co-operate with Him in the Redemption of all others. Is this perhaps equivalent to introducing two Redemptions, as Canon Smith fears? Not at all. There is only one Redemption for Mary and for the rest of men. But in that one Redemption we may distinguish two signa rationis, as the Scholastics would say, two modes of operation taking place at one and the same time, but made possible only by a priority of nature. In this hypothesis, Christ redeems Mary, and her alone, with a preservative Redemption; then, together with her, in signo posteriori rationis, He redeems the rest of mankind with a liberative Redemption. This, we repeat, does not correspond to two numerically distinct Redemptions, but rather to a twofold intention on the part of the Redeemer; and this twofold intention, in turn, corresponds to a twofold acceptance of the Redemption on the part of the Eternal Father: first, with a logical priority, God deigns to accept Christ’s Redemption for Mary alone; then, once Mary is redeemed, God accepts Christ’s Redemption with Mary’s co-operation for the rest of the human race. (26) Since the redemptive value of Christ’s whole life was eternally present in the mind of God, there is no room for a chronological “before” and “after” which would, of course, compromise the absolute oneness of the objective Redemption.

At this juncture the adversaries point out that the above solution, while unassailable in itself, is nevertheless a gratuitous hypothesis without any basis in the sources of revelation. To which Father Dillenschneider rightly answers: “It is not at all necessary that this explanation find a formal support in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, provided that it be not opposed by either, and that it be justified by the belief, sufficiently accredited in the Church, concerning a direct cooperation of Mary in our objective Redemption. Now, such a belief does exist, and it would be vain to deny it. This being so, if the thesis of Mary’s immediate Coredemption is sufficiently warranted, and we feel that it is, then the explanation which shows its harmony with the preredemption of the Immaculate Virgin is likewise warranted.” (27) The same author further recalls that when the Franciscan Duns Scotus (d. 1308) had recourse to his “preredemption” theory in order to reconcile the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception with the dogma of the universality of Redemption, he could not claim any scriptural or traditional data in its favor. And yet, his explanation was accepted and definitively introduced in Catholic theology for the good reason that it alone solved the major difficulty of trying to harmonize the dogma of universal Redemption with the living tradition of the Church relative to Our Lady’s original sanctity. (28)

Still reluctant to endorse the doctrine, the adversaries have recourse to a further objection. Granted, they say, that, theoretically, the thesis involves no contradiction. In point of fact, however, we are faced with the following serious dilemma: either Mary’s co-operation adds something positive to the Redemption wrought by Christ, or it does not. If it does, it would enhance the value of Christ’s merits and satisfactions, which is unthinkable. If it does not, then it is superfluous and useless. In either case it should be discarded.

We reply: Since the merits and satisfactions of the God-man possessed an infinite value and a superabundant efficacy, they could not possibly be enhanced by those of Our Blessed Lady. Nevertheless, her co-operation, without being an intrinsic “addition” to the work of her Son, constituted a new title in the eyes of God for the granting of pardon to the human race. Her merits and satisfactions are accepted by God as an integral part of the universal redemptive economy, as a positive contribution made by a purely human representative of mankind. As such they become a new reason moving God (humanly speaking) to cancel our debt in actu primo.

In this connection Father Dillenschneider borrows an example from Christology to illustrate the point. We know, he writes, that from the first moment of the Incarnation and in virtue of the Hypostatic Union, the God-Man had an initial exigency to the glorification of His body. On the other hand, we know that this bodily glorification was also merited by His sacred Passion and death. Now, are we to suppose that this merit argues to a deficiency in the previous connatural right to glorification? Not at all. After the Passion, the bodily glorification is due to Christ by a twofold title: the Hypostatic Union and the infinite merit acquired through His sufferings. (29) Something similar may be said concerning the reconciliation of the world in actu primo. It is granted by God in view of a double title, without the implication that one of them (constituted by the Marian element) betrays any deficiency in the other.

We have an analogous situation in the sphere of the subjective Redemption. Whenever we co-operate with divine grace to perform some salutary act, our co-operation adds nothing to the intrinsic value of Christ’s grace. On the contrary, the former is entirely dependent upon the latter. And yet, that share of ours is not at all superfluous and useless; indeed, it is necessary to produce the salutary act because God has decreed that the work of our sanctification should be not only divine but human as well. “Qui ergo fecit te sine te, non te justificat sine te.” (30) If this is possible in the realm of subjective Redemption, why not also in the order of objective Redemption? Is not the divine element in one case as incapable of being intrinsically enhanced as in the other?

It may be asked further: Why did God decree to grant our reconciliation in view of this twofold title? The answer would seem to lie in the very nature of the redemptive alliance between God and the human race. That alliance is frequently described in Sacred Scripture as a mystical espousal. Since the Redeemer’s bride is the community of the redeemed, it is fitting that the latter be actively represented on Calvary at the climax of this mystical marriage. Now, if we know from the living tradition of the Church that Our Blessed Lady is both the intimate associate of the Savior in the entire process of salvation and also the prototype of the community to be redeemed, is it not reasonable to suppose that God wished her actively to represent that community at the most solemn moment of the spiritual nuptials? (31) Is not Mary’s official function as the New Eve to offer atonement for our sins together with the New Adam? (32) And if almighty God Himself freely appointed her to that official role, did He not owe it to Himself to accept her meritorious co-operation as a new title for our Redemption in actu primo?

A final attempt was recently made by Father Lennerz to weaken our position. If God—he wrote in substance—freely decreed not to accept Christ’s Redemption without Mary’s co-operation, the latter must be said to belong to the very essence of the redemptive work. In this event, the work of Christ alone, without Mary’s co-operation, is not sufficient to redeem the human race. (33)

The above reasoning, based as it is on an obvious equivocation, is not at all conclusive. Its underlying weakness is the author’s confusion of that which is necessary with that which is essential. Our Lady’s co-operation is hypothetically necessary because it was decreed by God, but it remains nonessential. Hence, God accepts Christ’s merits and satisfactions as an essential element of our Redemption, and at the same time He deigns to accept Our Lady’s merits and satisfactions as a nonessential (though necessary), secondary, and totally subordinate element of the same Redemption. The point here is that God’s acceptance does in no way alter the intrinsic nature of either element.

Having disposed of these speculative stumbling blocks, let us now turn our attention to a difficulty of a more practical character: the one sometimes raised against the title “Coredemptrix” itself. In the opinion of some, this title had better be banished from Catholic theology for the following reasons. First of all, it is a “novelty,” unknown before the past century. (34) Then again, the very nature of the word is apt to mislead the uninitiated, to engender confusion in the minds of those who are less enlightened and even merely prejudiced. After all, the prefix “co” in the word Coredemptrix does seem to place Our Lady on an equal footing with her Son in the redemptive economy. (35) Finally, it has the disadvantage that it can only be explained by being explained away. (36)

Since we have on previous occasions, and indeed quite at length, vindicated the legitimacy of this Marian title, an answer per summa capita would seem to suffice at this time.

First of all, the fact that a word is new does not necessarily militate against its legitimacy, especially if it is used to convey an old idea. There was a time in history when words like transubstantiation, omoousios, theotokos, and others were new, and yet they were subsequently consecrated by ecclesiastical usage. Second, it is not correct to state that the title “Coredemptrix” was first introduced in Catholic theology during the nineteenth century. Actually, it can be traced back to at least the fourteenth century in a liturgical book preserved with other manuscripts at St. Peter’s in Salzburg. (37)

As regards the structure of the term “Coredemptrix” we may point out that the prefix “co” is the exact equivalent of the Latin cum which means “with,” not “equal,” as every grammarian knows. For this reason St. Paul could rightly say that we are God’s “co-workers” in the process of our sanctification, without in the least equating the efficacy of God’s grace with that of our own co-operation. (38) Besides, if the prefix “co” means “equal,” what then does the word “co-equal” mean? Hence we see no justified fear that the title “Coredemptrix” will mislead and confuse the less enlightened and the prejudiced. A sensible way to prevent that confusion would seem to be to instruct such people so as to make them more enlightened and less prejudiced.

Last, the claim that the expression “Coredemptrix” can only be explained by being explained away does not correspond to actual facts. If by that term we meant only that Our Lady brought the Redeemer into the world and that she now intercedes for us in heaven, we surely would be explaining it away. But when we style Mary our Coredemptrix we mean exactly what we say, namely, that “she together with Christ redeemed the human race.” (39) It is true, of course, that this apparently bold statement must be understood and explained in a sense which is compatible with other undeniable truths of our Catholic faith; that is to say, we must emphasize that Our Lady’s share in the redemptive process was entirely secondary, nonessential, and subordinate to the unique causality of the Savior, to whose merits she owed the very possibility of being His partner. But we ask: Is that “explaining it away”?

We have an analogous case in connection with the word “infallibility,” to mention but one example. Etymologically, as it stands, this term means simply inability to err. When we apply it to the Holy Father we must, of necessity, narrow down its meaning to a highly restricted and specific area. Once the required limitations are clearly drawn, it is obvious that the Pope can err on a variety of subjects. Now we ask: When a Catholic theologian thus explains Papal infallibility, is he merely “explaining it away”? Not at all. The Church has a perfect right to select any term she deems suitable to convey a given doctrine, and to attach to that term a specific and restricted meaning. Something similar may be said concerning the title “Coredemptrix” which has been widely used in the Church for several centuries, and has been repeatedly endorsed by the Holy See in recent years. (40) In our humble opinion, this fact alone more than sufficiently warrants its legitimacy.


The expose undertaken in these pages has been an attempt to familiarize our readers with the very essence of the Catholic position relative to Mary’s role in the process of man’s Redemption, and with the theological justification of that position. We have not only surveyed contemporary attitudes and opinions on this question; we have also inquired into the past, searching the written and spoken word of God. Such an investigation is necessary in order to ascertain whether and to what extent the Catholic teaching of today may be considered an authentic development of the original data furnished by the sources of revelation, or rather a deviation from, and a corruption of, that primitive deposit of divine truth. The final decision on this point must be left, not to the professional theologians (much less to the historian), but solely and exclusively to the living Magisterium of the Church. The theologian may, to be sure, evaluate the result of his investigation and formulate positive or negative conclusions accordingly; but these must always be of a tentative nature, always subject to the final judgment of the Ecclesia docens. In the absence of a definitive and infallible pronouncement of the Magisterium concerning Our Lady’s Coredemption, we have endeavored to discover at least the “mind” of that teaching authority as represented by recent Pontiffs. If our interpretation of their repeated utterances on this vital problem is sound and objective, then it would seem safe to conclude that the current doctrine of Mary’s direct co-operation in the objective Redemption bears the unmistakable mark of a genuinely Catholic truth authentically developed from the original deposit of revelation. Incidentally, this conclusion is quite generally accepted among contemporary theologians, although it is not always formulated in so many words.

May we now advance a step further and speak of the doctrine’s definability? Several eminent scholars have declared themselves favorable in this respect. (41) We can think of no solid reason militating against their stand. Indeed, if our appraisal of the copious testimonies gathered here and elsewhere is valid and cogent, then the extant data constitute an overwhelming array of evidence pointing to the revealed character of this doctrine. Theologians may and will, of course, debate the further question as to whether it was revealed formally or only virtually. While such discussions are undoubtedly legitimate and often fruitful, nevertheless, it is well to bear in mind that the solution of this question is not at all necessary in order to proceed to a dogmatic definition. The course adopted by the Supreme Pontiff with regard to the Immaculate Conception and Mary’s Assumption is an evident proof of it. Whether or not the Vicar of Christ will some day consider our doctrine sufficiently well established to be proclaimed an article of Catholic faith remains, of course, pure conjecture; but it is our fervent hope and humble prayer that the decision will be made in a not too distant future.

This article was excerpted from Mariology, vol. 2, Bruce Publishing, 1957.



(1) In Joan., tract. 98, 2.

(2) We follow the subdivision of condign merit proposed by Father M. Llamera, O.P., in Alma Socia Christi, Vol. 1 (Romae, 1951), p. 245. Cf. also M. Cuervo, O.P., La cooperation de Maria en el misterio de nuestra salud…, in Estudios Marianos, Vol. 2, 1943, pp. 137-139.

(3) Cf., among others, C. Friethoff, O.P., De alma Socia Christi Mediatoris (Romae, 1936), pp. 75-77; R- Garrigou-Lagrange, op. cit., pp. 516-519; M.J. Nicolas, O.P., La doctrine de la Coredemption dans le cadre de la doctrine thomiste de la Redemption, in Revue Thomiste, Vol. 46, 1947, pp. 26-27.

(4) Cf. C. Dillenschneider, Pour une Coredemption bien comprise, in Marianum, Vol. n, 1949, pp. 242-245; D. Bertetto, S.D.B., Maria Corredentrice (Alba, 1951) p. 106; G. M. Roschini, O.S.M., On the Nature of the Corredemptive Merit of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Marianum, Vol. 15, 1953, pp. 278-287.

(5) Cf. for example, the recriminations of E. Amort, Controversia de Revelationibus Agredanis… (Augustae Vindelicorum, 1749), pp. XXIX-XXX.

(6) Cf. J. Lebon, Comment je conçois, j’etablis et je defends la doctrine de la Mediation mariale, in Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, Vol. 16, 1939, pp. 674-678; A. Fernandez, O.P., De Mediatione B. Virginis secundum doctrinam D. Thomae, in La Ciencia Tomista, Vol. 38, 1938, pp. 145-170; C. Balic, art. cit.; L. Colomer, O.F.M., Cooperation meritoria de la Virgen a la Redencion, in Estudios Marianos, Vol. 2, 1943, pp. 155-177; M. Cuervo, art. cit.; J. A. de Aldama, S.J., Cooperation de Maria a la Redencion…, in Estudios Marianos, Vol. 2, 1943, pp. 179-193; E. Sauras, O.P., Causalidad de la cooperation de Maria…, in Estudios Marianos, Vol. 2, 1943, pp. 319-358; F. Vacas, O.P., Maria Corredentora pudo merecer de condigno ex condignitate, in Boletin Eclesiastico de Filipinas, Vol. 18, 1940, pp. 719-729; M. Llamera, O.P., El merito maternal corredentivo de Maria, in Estudios Marianos, Vol. 11, 1951, pp. 83-140. On the lively discussion conducted by Father Llamera on this point at the recent International Marian Congress in Rome, cf. Alma Socia Christi, Vol. 1 (Romae, 1951), pp. 243-255.

(7) Cf. above, footnotes 14, 18, 23 in Part I.

(8) H. Seiler, op. cit., pp. 14-32, 131, 138 ff.; G. M. Petazzi, S.J., Teologia Mariana (Venezia, s.a.), pp. 43-45; E. Sauras, Fue sacerdotal la gratia de Maria? in Estudios Marianos, Vol. 7, 1948, pp. 387-424; M. Llamera, Maria Madre Corredentora…, ibid., pp. 166-167.

(9) J. M. Bover, S.J., Maria Mediadora universal… (Madrid, 1946), pp. 351-354.

(10) E. Sauras, O.P., art. cit., p. 424.

(11) N. Garcia Garces, C.M.F., Cooperation de Maria a nuestra Redencion a modo de sacrificio, in Estudios Marianos, Vol. 2, 1943, pp. 195-247;. id., La Santisima Virgen y el Sacerdocio, ibid., Vol. 10, 1950, pp. 61-104 (an excellent refutation of Llamera’s views); G. M. Roschini, L’essenza del sacrificio eucaristico . . . (Roma, 1936); id., Ancora sull’essenza del sacrificio eucaristico . . . (Rovigo, 1937); id., La Madonna secondo la fede e la teologia, Vol. 2 (Roma, 1953), p. 406; C. Friethoff, op. cit., pp. 139-149.

(12) Cf. R. Laurentin, Le probleme du sacerdoce marial devant le Magistere, in Marianum, Vol. 10, 1948, pp. 160-178. On the whole question of Mary’s “priesthood,” cf. the prodigious investigation undertaken by Laurentin in his Maria, Ecclesia, Sacerdotium; essai sur le developpement d’une idee religieuse (Paris, 1952), and his Marie, l’Eglise et la sacerdoce; etude theologique (Paris, 1953).

For a sound and objective evaluation of Laurentin’s views on the subject, cf. N. Garcia Garces, C.M.F., Maria, la Iglesia y el sacerdocio, in Ephemerides Mariologicae, Vol. 5, 1955, pp. 429-443.

(13) In L’Ami du Clerge, 1928, p. 49, the editors state that they have been requested “by orders from above” to make a public declaration to the effect that “the Holy Office has expressly forbidden the attribution of this title (Virgin-Priest) to the Blessed Virgin.”

(14) B.H. Merkelbach, O.P., Tractatus de Beatissima Virgine Maria . . . (Parisiis, 1939), p. 342; H. Seiler and P. Strater, De modalitate Corredemptionis B. Mariae Virginis, in Gregorianum, Vol. 28, 1947, pp. 293-336, esp. pp. 320-323.

(15) Merkelbach, loc. cit.

(16) D. Bertetto, Maria Corredentrice (Alba, 1951), pp. 23-24, 94-95, 142; R. Gagnebet, O.P., Questions mariales, in Angelicum, Vol. 22, 1945, pp. 169-171; M.J. Nicolas, O.P., La doctrine de la Coredemption dans le cadre de la doctrine thomiste de la Redemption, in Revue Thomiste, Vol. 47, 1947, 20-42; C. Dillenschneider, Le mystere de la Coredemption mariale . . . (Paris, 1951), pp. 159-160. On the somewhat fluctuating position of Dillenschneider, cf. the very pertinent observations of A. Rivera, in Ephemerides Mariologicae, Vol. 3, 1953, pp. 500-501.

(17) In his article De cooperatione qualificata in delictis officialibus, in Periodica de re morali, canonica, liturgica, Vol. 38, 1949, pp. 321-342, the eminent canonist F. Hurth, S.J., suggests the following explanation: Christ alone was charged with the official function to bring about our Redemption through the sacrificial offering demanded by God. He alone (not Mary) wrought our salvation. Mary’s will in no way “influenced” or “determined” the will of her Son to fulfill His redemptive mission. Nevertheless, the Savior deigned to assume His Mother’s will into His own, thus fusing it, as it were, with the internal element of His official function as Redeemer. In this sense we have a true coredemptive co-operation on the part of Mary, without in the least encroaching on the unique prerogative of her Son (cf. esp. p. 339). Father Dillenschneider (op. cit., pp. 14-16) fears that in this theory Our Lady’s Coredemption is diluted almost to the point of losing its very essence. He forgets that in some sections of his book (for example, pp. 17, 60, 88) he himself seems to reduce Mary’s co-operation to the fact that she shared (though officially) in the redemptive fiat of her Son. In all fairness to him, however, we must note that elsewhere (pp. 148-152) Dillenschneider admits considerably more than the mere “co-operation by consent.”

(18) T. Gallus, Ad, B. M. Virginis in Redemptione cooperationem, in Divus Thomas (PL), Vol. 51, 1948, pp. 113-135; id., Mater Dolorosa “principium materiale” Redemptionis objectivae, in Marianum, Vol. 12, 1950, pp. 227-249. To the objections of Dillenschneider against this theory (op. cit., pp. 24-25), Father Gallus has replied recently in a lengthy and noteworthy article: Ad “principium materiale” Redemptionis objectivae, in Divus Thomas (PI.), Vol. 57, 1954, pp. 230-261.

(19) 1 Tim. 2:5. Cf. also Acts 4:12.

(20) W. Goossens, De cooperatione immediata Matris Redemptoris ad redemptionem objectivam (Parisiis, 1939), pp. 30-31.

(21) Cf. Bertetto, op. cit., p. 77; Crisostomo de Pamplona, O.F.M.Cap., Solution de las dificultades contra la Corredencion mariana propiamente dicha, in Estudios Marianos, Vol. 3, 1944, pp. 237-240.

(22) Cf. Gal. 3, 19.

(23) Cf. H. Lennerz, De Beata Virgine, ed. 3 (Romae, 1939), p. 233.

(24) Lennerz, Considerationes de doctrina B. Virginis Mediatricis, in Gregorianum, Vol. 19, 1938, pp. 424-425.

(25) G. D. Smith, Mary’s Part in Our Redemption, rev. ed. (New York, 1954), pp. 92-99.

(26) Cf. F. Tummers, Het mede-verdienen van de h. Maagd in het verlossingswerk, in Bijdragen van de philosophische en theologische Faculteiten der Nederlandsche Jesuiten, Vol. i, 1938, pp. 81-103, esp. p. 93; ibid., pp. 99-101, the author endeavors to explain further how Our Lady could merit the Redemption which was actually the principle of her own merit. In his view, Christ’s Redemption was the cause of Mary’s merit only per modum causae finalis, while Mary’s merits caused the Redemption per modum causae efficientis. Hence, he thinks, the famous objection based on the axiom “principium meriti non cadit sub merito” automatically vanishes. For a critique of this solution, cf. Lennerz, art. cit., pp. 442-444. In his turn, the learned professor of Louvain, Msgr. J. Lebon, proposed a still more radical and novel solution, which may be summarized as follows: Our Lady was both a private and a public person. As a private person, the principle of her merit was indeed the gratia Christi; as a public person, however, the immediate principle of her merit was a gratia Dei, a special grace which did not flow from the Cross and which, therefore, enabled her to merit the Redemption itself. For Lebon the very fact that Mary was the Mother of the Redeemer as such, gave her a true right over the life of the Victim. Her free renunciation of these rights (joined with the renunciation by Christ of His rights over His own life) constituted, by divine disposition, a direct participation in the redemptive act itself. Cf. also the solutions advanced by J. M. Dover, in Redempta et Corredemptrix (Marianum, Vol. 2, 1940, pp. 39-58), and by R. Gagnebet, in Difficultes sur la Coredemption: principes de solution? (In Alma Socia Christi, Vol. 2, 1952, pp. 13-20, esp. pp. 16-18).

(27) Dillenschneider, Pour une Coredemption bien comprise, in Marianum, Vol. n, 1949, pp. 109-110. Cf. H. Seiler, op. cit., pp. 123-131, esp. p. 129.

(28) Dillenschneider, Le mystere de la Coredemption mariale…. p. 162.

(29) Dillenschneider, Marie au service de noire Redemption…. pp. 356-357.

(30) St. Augustine, Sermo 169, cap. 11, n. 13; PL, 38, 923. Cf. Ch. de Koninck, La part de la personne humaine dans l’oeuvre de la Redemption, in Laval Theologique et Philosophique, Vol. 10, 1954, pp. 44-53.

(31) Dillenschneider, Le mystere de la Coredemption mariale . . . , p. 135. Cf. R. Laurentin, Notre Dame et la Messe au service de la paix du Christ (Tournai, 1954), pp. 44-45.

(32) Pius XII, cf. above, footnote 30 in Part I.

(33) H. Lennerz, De cooperatione B. Virginis in ipso opere Redemptionis, in Gregorianum, Vol. 28, 1947, pp. 577-578; also Vol. 29, 1948, p. 141.

(34) Thus Pohle-Preuss, Mariology, 5th ed. (St. Louis, Mo., 1926), pp. 122-123, where we are informed that the term was “invented” by Castelplanio (died in 1872) and Faber (died in 1863).

(35) Thus A. Michel, Mary’s Coredemption, in The American Ecclesiastical Review, Vol. 122, March, 1950, p. 184.

(36) L. E. Bellanti, S.J., Mary, Coredemptrix and Mediatrix, in Our Blessed Lady, Cambridge Summer School Lectures for 1933 (London, 1934), p. 214.

(37) Cf. above, footnote 85 in Part I. On the history and usage of the term “Coredemptrix” cf. Laurentin, Le titre de Coredemptrice. Etude historique, in Marianum, Vol. 13, 1951, pp. 396-452.

(38) 1 Cor. 3:6-9. Cf. Carol, The Problem of Our Lady’s Coredemption, in The American Ecclesiastical Review, Vol. 123, July, 1950, pp. 32-51, esp. pp. 34-37.

(39) Pope Benedict XV, Apostolic Letter Inter sodalicia (March 22, 1918), in A.A.S., Vol. 10, 1918, pp. 181-182.

(40) Cf. A.S.S., Vol. 41, 1908, p. 409; Vol. 5, 1913, p. 364; Vol. 6, 1914, p. 108. Cf. Carol, The Holy See and the Title of “Coredemptrix” in The Homiletic and Pastoral Review, Vol. 37, April, 1937, pp. 746-748.

(41) Cf., for example, E. Druwe, S.J., La Mediation universelle de Marie, in Maria. Etudes sur le Sainte Vierge, ed. H. du Manoir, Vol. 1 (Paris, 1949), p. 566; C. Friethoff, op. cit., pp. 4-5, 226-227; J. Bittremieux, De Mediatione universali B. M. Virginis quoad gratias (Brugis, 1926), p. 229; J. Lebon, art. cit., pp. 680-681; F. X. Godts, C.Ss.R., De definibilitate Mediationis universalis Deiparae (Bruxellis, 1904); P. Villada, S.J., Por la definicion dogmatica de la Mediacion universal de la Santisima Virgen (Madrid, 1917), pp. 194-195; and countless other authors who teach the same thing, at least equivalently, by their endeavor to show that the thesis is implicitly contained in the sources of revelation, and taught by the Magisterium. In our work De Corredemptione . . . (pp. 589-607) the reader will find numerous statements of bishops who think along the same lines. Particularly worthy of note is the Votum dogmaticum which Bishop J. Th. Laurent, Vicar Apostolic of Hamburg, submitted to the Vatican Council for a definition (cf. p. 593). More recently, on November 26, 1951, a formal Postulatum was presented to the Holy Father by His Eminence, Emmanuel Cardinal Arteaga, Archbishop of Havana, and the entire Cuban hierarchy, requesting the dogmatic definition of Our Lady’s Coredemption, and of her universal Mediation. The document itself is dated October 6, 1951. Since we are privileged to possess a copy of the original (which has not been made public), we can vouch for the fact that the petition urges the Holy Father to define the doctrine of the Coredemption in exactly the same sense vindicated throughout this paper. This represents the first time in history that a step of this nature has been taken by the hierarchy of any country.

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