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Amy Spreeman is founder and co-blogger at Berean Research and also a contributing blogger at Pirate Christian Radio’s Berean Examiner blog. She has been a broadcaster and freelance writer for 25 years. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Mary as "Co-redemptrix" with Jesus

christian_catholic_mother_mary_and_jesus_pdf_cross_stitch_pattern_0d5c316bDo Catholics teach that Jesus’ mother Mary has a part in mankind’s salvation? It’s important that we examine original sources in their context when making such a claim, and as you will see from the following, the answer is yes. Of course the Bible, God’s breathed out words to us, say just the opposite: That Christ’s atoning sacrifice alone saves us. (See Isaiah 53:4-6; 2 Cor. 5:21; and 1 Pet. 2:24.)

The following is taken from Pope John II himself, originally published in L’Osservatore Romano, the weekly newspaper of the “Holy See” of the Vatican, and you can view the online version at Catholic Television channel EWTN.

He explains in his own words how historically, this belief about Mary’s offering in the sacrifice of Calvary, describing two altars: one in Mary’s heart, the other in Christ’s body. “Christ sacrificed his flesh, Mary her soul”. Mary sacrificed herself spiritually in deep communion with Christ, and implored the world’s salvation: “What the mother asks, the Son approves and the Father grants” (cf. De septem verbis Domini in cruce, 3: PL 189, 1694).

There you have it. And yes, the Catholic Church teaches this heresy to this very day. Here is more of the Pope’s observations. (Note: Images are not a part of the original online report.) Be sure and read the related articles at the end for a full refutation of this fallacy:

Pope John Paul II

Down the centuries the Church’s tradition has appreciated ever more profoundly Mary’s very close sharing in her Son’s redemptive mission
At the General Audience of Wednesday, 25 October, the Holy Father returned to his catechesis on the Blessed Virgin Mary and her participation in her Son’s saving work. “Mary is our Mother: this consoling truth, offered to us ever more clearly and profoundly by the love and faith of the Church, has sustained and sustains the spiritual life of us all, and encourages us, even in suffering, to have faith and hope”. Here is a translation of the Pope’s address, which was given in Italian and was the third in the series on the Blessed Virgin.ourlady1. Saying that “the Virgin Mary … is acknowledged and honoured as being truly the Mother of God and of the Redeemer” (Lumen gentium, n. 53), the Council draws attention to the link between Mary’s motherhood and Redemption.

After becoming aware of the maternal role of Mary, who was venerated in the teaching and worship of the first centuries as the virginal Mother of Jesus Christ and therefore as the Mother of God, in the Middle Ages the Church’s piety and theological reflection brought to light her co-operation in the Saviour’s work.

This delay is explained by the fact that the efforts of the Church Fathers and of the early Ecumenical Councils, focused as they were on Christ’s identity, necessarily left other aspects of dogma aside. Only gradually could the revealed truth be unfolded in all its richness. Down the centuries, Mariology would always take its direction from Christology. The divine motherhood of Mary was itself proclaimed at the Council of Ephesus primarily to affirm the oneness of Christ’s person. Similarly, there was a deeper understanding of Mary’s presence in salvation history.

2. At the end of the second century, St Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp, already pointed out Mary’s contribution to the work of salvation. He understood the value of Mary’s consent at the time of the Annunciation, recognizing in the Virgin of Nazareth’s obedience to and faith in the angel’s message the perfect antithesis of Eve’s disobedience and disbelief, with a beneficial effect on humanity’s destiny. In fact, just as Eve caused death, so Mary, with her “yes”, became “a cause of salvation” for herself and for all mankind (cf. Adv. Haer., III, 22, 4; SC 211, 441). But this affirmation was not developed in a consistent and systematic way by the other Fathers of the Church.

Mary became spiritual Mother of whole human race

Instead, this doctrine was systematically worked out for the first time at the end of the 10th century in the Life of Mary by a Byzantine monk, John the Geometer. Here Mary is united to Christ in the whole work of Redemption, sharing, according to God’s plan, in the Cross and suffering for our salvation. She remained united to the Son “in every deed, attitude and wish” (cf. Life of Mary, Bol. 196, f. 122 v.). Mary’s association with Jesus’ saving work came about through her Mother’s love, a love inspired by grace, which conferred a higher power on it: love freed of passion proves to be the most compassionate (cf. ibid., Bol. 196, f. 123 v.).

Screen shot 2013-02-16 at 2.18.58 PM

So-called “apparition of Mary”

3. In the West St Bernard, who died in 1153, turns to Mary and comments on the presentation of Jesus in the temple: “Offer your Son, sacrosanct Virgin, and present the fruit of your womb to the Lord. For our reconciliation with all, offer the heavenly victim pleasing to God” (Serm. 3 in Purif., 2: PL 183, 370).

A disciple and friend of St Bernard, Arnold of Chartres, shed light particularly on Mary’s offering in the sacrifice of Calvary. He distinguished in the Cross “two altars: one in Mary’s heart, the other in Christ’s body. Christ sacrificed his flesh, Mary her soul”. Mary sacrificed herself spiritually in deep communion with Christ, and implored the world’s salvation: “What the mother asks, the Son approves and the Father grants” (cf. De septem verbis Domini in cruce, 3: PL 189, 1694).

From this age on other authors explain the doctrine of Mary’s special cooperation in the redemptive sacrifice.

4. At the same time, in Christian worship and piety contemplative reflection on Mary’s “compassion” developed, poignantly depicted in images of the Pietà. Mary’s sharing in the drama of the Cross makes this event more deeply human and helps the faithful to enter into the mystery: the Mother’s compassion more clearly reveals the Passion of the Son.

By sharing in Christ’s redemptive work, Mary’s spiritual and universal motherhood is also recognized. In the East, John the Geometer told Mary: “You are our mother”. Giving Mary thanks “for the sorrow and suffering she bore for us”, he sheds light on her maternal affection and motherly regard for all those who receive salvation (cf. Farewell Discourse on the Dormition of Our Most Glorious Lady, Mother of God, in A. Wenger, L’Assomption de la Très Sainte Vierge dans la tradition byzantine, p. 407).

In the West too, the doctrine of the spiritual motherhood developed with St Anselm, who asserted: “You are the mother … of reconciliation and the reconciled, the mother of salvation and the saved” (cf. Oratio 52, 8: PL 158, 957 A).

Mary does not cease to be venerated as the Mother of God, but the fact that she is our Mother gives her divine motherhood a new aspect that opens within us the way to a more intimate communion with her.

5. Mary’s motherhood in our regard does not only consist of an affective bond: because of her merits and her intercession she contributes effectively to our spiritual birth and to the development of the life of grace within us. This is why Mary is called “Mother of grace” and “Mother of life”.

Mother of the Life from whom all take life

The title “Mother of life”, already employed by St Gregory of Nyssa, was explained as follows by Bl. Guerric of Igny, who died in 1157: “She is the Mother of the Life from whom all men take life: in giving birth to this life herself, she has somehow given rebirth to all those who have lived it. Only one was begotten, but we have all been reborn” (In Assumpt. I, 2: PL 185, 188).

A 13th-century text, the Mariale, used a vivid image in attributing this rebirth to the “painful travail” of Cavalry, by which “she became the spiritual mother of the whole human race”. Indeed, “in her chaste womb she conceived by compassion the children of the Church” (Q. 29, par. 3).

6. The Second Vatican Council, after stating that Mary “in a wholly singular way co-operated in the work of the Saviour”, concludes: “for this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace” (Lumen gentium, n. 61), thus confirming the Church’s perception that Mary is at the side of her Son as the spiritual Mother of all humanity.

Mary is our Mother: this consoling truth, offered to us ever more clearly and profoundly by the love and faith of the Church, has sustained and sustains the spiritual life of us all, and encourages us, even in suffering, to have faith and hope.

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18 Responses to “Mary as "Co-redemptrix" with Jesus”

  1. Hendrix #

    yes, salvation is through Jesus, but without Mary, there will be no Jesus.

    know the teachings before you comment on me.

    July 30, 2015 at 12:24 AM
  2. I checked out your link and found this.

    Why invent the notion that Mary never sinned? Why because in sovereignty could not cause a human mother to give birth to a divine child? These things arise from man's reasonings, nothing more. The Bible does not imply that Mary was without sin, or that she needed to be.

    And yes, Sharon, I will elaborate. There is an implicit, if not explicit discrimination against Protestants in most Catholic areas. I fact locally I once heard a priest joke with his large congregation that a couple who was again visiting the, was a surprise to see because he worried they had lost them to the Baptists. The entire congregation laughed heartily and I laughed right along with them. Roman Catholicism has become largely a religion of man and even though local Catholics are doubtless going to pressure Stand Up For The Truth to stay away from examining catholic belief and practice because of their connection to Q90, I for one am not afraid to say what all the evangelical churches in NE Wisconsin need to say. The evangelical churches in this area will never move on until they openly decry the heresy and arrogance of the Roman Catholic Church. And although I do believe that some saved remnant exists in the RCC, I also know that on nearly every major point of doctrine, Romanism is an adulteration and usurpation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    March 4, 2013 at 2:45 PM
  3. SK #

    Catholics do not pray to Mary. She is highly respected and revered because she is truly the first human to say yes to Christ! She didn't just say yes to following him, but she said yes to raising him and then following him. When the angel came to her she explicitly agreed to let God's will be done. Plus, with Jesus' first miracle we see the one and only command she makes in the Bible. She told the people to do exactly as he says. If you are curious about the Catholic Church's official stance on Mary, go to the source and check this website out.

    February 22, 2013 at 1:26 PM
  4. The fearful mechanism of the Inquisition was the willingness of 'good Catholics' to spy on their neighbors. There is a soft inquisition at work in many places today and it relies on manipulating the good intentions of faithful catholics. But of course it is not simply Catholic groups which practice this.

    February 21, 2013 at 4:19 AM
  5. http://www.secularnewsdaily.com/2010/03/pope-bene…. This is the biggest problem facing the RCC. Doctrine is important, but kindly old gentlemen with wrong doctrine are one thing. Co-conspirators in child molesting are of a whole different level of stink.

    February 17, 2013 at 5:03 AM
  6. Messed up doctrine being what it is, the sex abuse scandal undoes the Catholic Church in the modern world. Several hundred if not thousands of senior leaders are now effectively felons because of their conspiratorial roles in covering up crimes against children. It will take the laity a while to figure out how this killed the RCC, but it will be very hard for many bishops to avoid a long series of lawsuits and class actions as more and more people realize that citizens of a foreign nation (The Vatican) raped their children under the guise of offering education in religion, and the princes of the church did nothing substantive about it.

    February 17, 2013 at 4:54 AM
  7. Replying again to the Article, I want to say that we have to get beneath the idea of generalizations of the doctrine of any church or movement. For although we can quote leaders and authoritative texts, our aim is not to box the air but to save souls. So we have to admit to the heterodoxy that exists in any group and especially in an organization as large as the Catholic Church. Each individual deserves a real answer, and I am afraid that in this point many evangelicals simply slap on a label and shut the door. And we understand that the many martyrdoms at the hands of the Catholic Church during the reformation are not to be ignored. But, this is a different time and reaching Catholics or Protestants will never start with accusations, and the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God. He who is wise wins souls.

    I will let Mike or Amy reply for themselves to Pat. I just want to say, Pat, that I have seen the indifference shown toward Mary by many Protestants. I do not think it is right. I do believe that being called blessed is not intended to create Mary metaphysically as the mother of us all, as John Paul II was suggesting. Now you can denigrate me and my peers here as uneducated protestors, but the facts are we care about what the Bible really says, and are sincere in our love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We at least on that measure, should seem to merit respect and a chance at dialogue?

    I am open to discuss thoroughly any point of doctrine with you.

    May the Lord's grace be abundant to us as we do.

    Peace and joy in Him.

    February 16, 2013 at 3:17 PM
  8. Pat #

    to the writer of this website, do you not participate in creation by having children? Almost in a sense being a co creator because children come through us participating in the act of procreation?Does that make you a God? Of course not!!!!
    Stop this ridiculous nonsense of insulting the mother of JESUS!!!!!! The Church has never considered her a God or to be worshiped or consider her a creator in the context you imply. USE YOUR BRAINS and THINK A LITTLE DEEPER!! You slander the mother of Christ when you insinuate that Catholics do. Oh by the way St. Ploycarp knew and studied under St. John who wrote the gospel and Revelation, but I suppose your local Pastor knows more than him.
    If the Blessed Virgin Mary who states that all Nations shall call me BLESSED (I forgot, that is one part of Sola scriptura you ignore). In all my dealings with my Protestant brothers and sisters Esther and Deborah etc.. are way more important to them than Mary who bore our savior. Mary to many is just a surrogate nothing else propped up at Christmas and put away till next year with the Christmas tree.
    If she is good enough for Jesus she is good enough for me! You insult the Mother of JESUS. He HONOURS his MOTHER why don't YOU??? If you reply you, do then I know you are blatently not telling the truth!
    Heresy??? You are in HERESY taking scripture in isolation and bending it to your liking!!! There are numerous scriptures to point just the opposite of what you imply.As a matter of fact you should check out a book called A Biblical defense of Catholicism by David Armstrong and you will see that everything you say is not biblical can be defend Biblically.
    I implore you READ the EARLY CHURCH FATHERS who knew the apostles etc.. and you will realize that your protestantism is just that a PROTEST against the EARLY CHURCH that you claim to get back too.
    I apologize that I am so angry, but I am sick of the slander that I hear from websites that claim to stand up for the truth and do nothing but DISTORT the TRUTH!!!!

    February 16, 2013 at 1:18 PM
  9. John Paul II is sort of the culmination of this line of thought and gravitated toward Mary early on. I do not believe Ireneaus intended to say that Mary was co-redemptrix. But certainly many Catholic theologians have put forward this idea since the Middle Ages and some beginning in the sixth century. The question is do Catholics actually teach and believe this as John Paul II put it forth? Is it in the catechism? Do Catholics worship Mary? Certainly praying the rosary is praying to Mary, which is found nowhere in the Protestant canon. Now according to Paul in Galatians the heavenly Jerusalem is our spiritual mother. I still stand by my statement that most Catholics do not believe Mary has power to save them.

    I do want to say than you for stepping out on this. I know that John Paul II was said to have been somehow tied up with the Secrets of Fatima, and I wonder if in fact he wasn't mentioned in them. These types of supernatural connections are not trivial, and I am sure you understand why I would say that.

    God bless.

    February 16, 2013 at 11:56 AM
  10. Dan #

    Funny there is no mention of Mary's sacrifice in Isaiah 53 which gives a complete explanation of what the Lord's servant His Christ would do on the cross. It could also be argued Mary mother of Jesus did not understand the redemption that would be made possible by her Son's death and how His death was necessary. She saw fit to try to resolve relationships between the religious establishment and her son. This lead to a statement from Christ where he asked a rhetorical question who is my mother brother and sisters

    For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

    I know how easy it is to lay aside scripture for the sake of tradition but it must stop no matter who the tradition was started by, less we make ourselves greater than God and so follow in Satan's footsteps. For if we do this thing we will certainly share in the sufferings established for the disobedient.

    February 16, 2013 at 11:34 AM