The Virgin Mary as perceived by the Roman Catholic Church
Mariology is the theology of
Roman Catholicism that affords devotion to Mary. "Does this mean the Catholics worship Mary? Well, yes and no. Publicly, the Roman Catholic Church does not afford Mary the same status as Jesus.
However, their reverence for her goes beyond their admiration for even the saints. The Catholic Encyclopedia details a view of Mary that it admits is not Biblical. Their view of her life and her role originate in Catholic tradition -- that
is, the writings of the popes and theologians, rather than in the Bible."
Summary of the issues
- The following is extracted from a larger work at Ankerberg Theological Research Institute.^^
Significant areas of Catholic doctrine and practice are related to the person and work of Mary. Her unique relationship to God is usually discussed in a trinity of functions: 1) Co-Redemptrix, 2) Mediatrix, and 3) Queen of Heaven. As Co-Redemptrix, she
cooperates with Christ in the work of saving sinners. As Mediatrix of all graces, she now dispenses God’s blessings and grace to the spiritually needy. As Queen of Heaven, she rules providentially with Christ the King of Heaven.^^
Although views in the Church vary, Mary has usually been elevated above all the prophets, apostles, saints, popes and even the Catholic Church. In the words of Pope Paul VI, "...the place she occupies in the Church: [is] ‘the highest place
and the closest to us after Jesus.’"^
Consider just a few titles of the almost innumerable books glorifying Mary: Mary the Mother of Redemption; Mary: Queen of Apostles; Mary: Queen of Peace; The Glories of Mary; Mary: Cause of Our Joy and Mary of Nazareth.
Mariology is as firmly entrenched in Catholicism as ever, especially with the honored blessing given by Vatican II.^
^ Vatican II "admonishes all the sons of the Church that the cult, especially the liturgical cult, of the Blessed Virgin, be generously fostered. It charges that practices and exercises of devotion toward her be treasured
as recommended by the teaching authority of the Church in the course of centuries, and that those decrees issued in earlier times regarding the veneration of images of Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and the saints, be religiously observed."^^
This charge has found a welcomed reception especially among Catholic charismatics. For example, "It is far from unusual to hear those who claim the baptism in the Spirit profess that one result of their new experience is a deeper devotion to Mary.
The devotional use of the Rosary has been stimulated rather than curtailed."^
But the Catholic view of Mary is not scriptural; it is entirely traditional. Some of the unbiblical teachings from Catholic tradition relating to Mary include the following:
Mary’s immaculate conception. This doctrine teaches that she was born without original sin and was kept sinless throughout her life.
Mary’s perpetual virginity. This dogma asserts that she had no children after Jesus.
Mary’s bodily assumption or physical ascension into heaven. This teaches that because of her sinlessness, Mary never experienced physical death. Instead she was raised bodily into the presence of Christ the King where she now functions as "Queen
of Heaven," dispensing graces to all the faithful.
Mary’s role as co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of all graces. This doctrine holds that the obedience and sufferings of Mary were essential to secure the full redemption bought by Christ.
Mary’s right to veneration and/or worship. This teaching argues that because of her unparalleled role in the economy of salvation, Mary is worthy of special adoration.
- ? Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon,
What Is the Unique Role of Mary in Roman Catholicism and Is It Biblical? - Part 1
- ? David F. Wells, Revolution in Rome (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1972), p. 132.
- ? Pope Paul VI, Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary [Marialis Cultus] (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 1974), p. 20.
- ? Robert C. Broderick, ed.,
The Catholic Encyclopedia, revised and updated (NY: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1987), pp. 374-375.
- ? Walter M. Abbott, general editor,
The Documents of Vatican II (NY: Guild Press, 1966), pp. 94-95.
- ? H. M. Carson,
Dawn or Twilight? A Study of Contemporary Roman Catholicism (Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 1976), p. 134.