Monday, April 25, 2005

Pope Benedict and the Blessed Virgin Mary

*This is not a criticism, just an observation*

Pope Benedict's Marian emphasis has been tepid to date. So far it doesn't seem like he will continue the robust Mariology of his predecessor. (Remind me of this when he declares Mary, Co-Redemptrix).

Here are the Marian refences so far. First, from the JP2 Funeral homily:

Divine Mercy: the Holy Father found the purest reflection of God’s mercy in the Mother of God. He, who at an early age had lost his own mother, loved his divine mother all the more. He heard the words of the crucified Lord as addressed personally to him: "Behold your Mother." And so he did as the beloved disciple did: he took her into his own home" (eis ta idia: Jn 19:27) – Totus tuus. And from the mother he learned to conform himself to Christ.

None of us can ever forget how in that last Easter Sunday of his life, the Holy Father, marked by suffering, came once more to the window of the Apostolic Palace and one last time gave his blessing urbi et orbi. We can be sure that our beloved Pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that he sees us and blesses us. Yes, bless us, Holy Father. We entrust your dear soul to the Mother of God, your Mother, who guided you each day and who will guide you now to the eternal glory of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


Since this is a tribute to JPII, the Marian references are very strong, being that JP2 dedicated his pontificate to her. The reference to Mary as "divine mother" is less dogmatic and more a grammatical contrast: JP2 lost his earthly mother, but found his non-earthly mother, or heavenly mother, or divine mother. But this is the type of language shift that precedes the dogmatic language. So, not bad.

I note that there were zero Marian references in the pre-conclave homily. That is astounding, given that this was the most important act they will perform as Cardinals on behalf of the Church. This, from the perspective that Catholic theology does not put a lot of distance at all between Mary and the Church.

Next reference is in his Apostolic Blessing, Ubi et Orbi:

Let us move forward in the joy of the Risen Lord, confident of his unfailing help. The Lord will help us and Mary, his Most Holy Mother, will be on our side. Thank you.


Mary gets a mention . . . at a fairly important moment, so she is not all together forgotten. The next mention is at the post-election homily to the Cardinals:

Like Peter, I too renew to Him my unconditional promise of faithfulness. He alone I intend to serve as I dedicate myself totally to the service of His Church.

"In support of this promise, I invoke the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy, in whose hands I place the present and the future of my person and of the Church.


It is with sadness that I note no mention of the Blessed Mother in the Inaugural Homily.

So, so far, the crux of Benedict's Mariology is her assistance: "maternal intercession", "Mary will be on our side." It is different from JP2, for whom Mary was a "divine mother" and the one who assumed the helm of his pontificate. Nothing wrong here with Benedict, it just a different direction.

7 Comments:

Blogger Ambrose said...

As Catholics, are relationship with the Virgin is somewhat cultural. JPII was Polish; B16 is German. Night and day in terms of Marialogy.
Can you imagine if we DID get a Mexican Pope someday? It would probably be the first Pope John James.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Nate said...

I have to second the above comments. I think it's cultural. Pope Benedict is used to being surrounded by all those German Protestants, and being ecumenically sensitive to their concerns about mariology. This could be a good thing. Pope John Paul II was not used to that as a Polish bishop, and so he was more mariological.

I think that Pope Benedict's mariology will be quite different, and I think it will be much more christologically oriented even than Pope John Paul II's mariology, which was itself very christological.

With that said, the Coredemptrix definition is possible, because Mary's role as Coredemptrix is one of her most christological roles.

3:53 AM  
Blogger Ambrose said...

I just re-read my comment. I need to learn to type. It's a wonder anyone understands me.

3:08 PM  
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