Five cardinals have invited every cardinal and bishop in the world to join them in petitioning Pope Benedict XVI to solemnly proclaim the Mother of Jesus as the "Spiritual Mother of humanity” as an ecumenical service of clarification to other religious traditions and to proclaim the full Christian truth about Mary.
An English copy of the letter which the five cardinals sent to all the world's cardinals and bishops in various languages on January 1, 2008, as well as a Latin “votum” or petition and its English translation has been released by His Eminence, Luis Cardinal Aponte Martínez, Fatima Symposium cardinal co-patron, with permission for publication (see below).
This initiative also intends to start an in-depth worldwide dialogue on Mary’s role in salvation for our time and builds upon the endorsement of over 500 Catholic cardinals and bishops for the petition for the definition of this potential fifth Marian dogma over the course of the past 15 years. Renowned contemporary Catholic leaders have also voiced their support, such as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Mother Angelica, foundress of the worldwide Eternal Word Television Network, along with approximately 7 million petitions from Catholics worldwide.
Should this effort prove successful, a proclamation would constitute a historical event for the Church as only the fifth Marian dogma defined in its 2,000-year history.
The five cardinals, Their Eminences Telesphore Cardinal Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, India, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India; Luis Cardinal Aponte Martínez, Archbishop Emeritus of San Juan, Puerto Rico; Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, India; Riccardo Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu, Philippines; and Ernesto Cardinal Corrippio Ahumada, Cardinal Primate Emeritus of Mexico City, have jointly invited their fellow cardinals and bishops throughout the world to add their names to their own petition to the Holy Father, which has already been formally presented to Benedict XVI in private audience by Cardinal Toppo on June 3, 2006.
These five cardinals and their petition, in the form of a Latin votum, included the names and petitions of a number of cardinals and bishops who met at the renowned Marian Shrine in Fatima, Portugal, in May 2005 for a theological symposium on the role of the Virgin Mary as the "Unique Cooperator in the Redemption" (an expression of Pope John Paul II). The symposium ended with a commonly accepted and signed votum to Pope Benedict, which respectfully asks him to prayerfully consider declaring the existing Church doctrine on Mary as the spiritual mother of all peoples as a solemn definition or "dogma," which represents the highest level of recognition of a particular Christian doctrine as a Catholic truth. This definition of Mary as spiritual mother would include her three maternal roles as the human “Co-redemptrix” (which literally means “a woman with the Redeemer” but never on a level of equality with her divine son), “Mediatrix” or distributor of the graces of the redemption, and “Advocate” or principal intercessor to her Jesus Christ.
The votum emphasizes the rich ecumenical benefits that would come from a solemn definition of this role of Mary as humanity’s spiritual mother, as the “ultimate expression of doctrinal clarity at the service of our Christian and non-Christian brothers and sisters who are not in communion with Rome, and as well as for the greater understanding and appreciation of this revealed doctrine concerning the Mother of the Redeemer by the People of God at the outset of this third millennium of Christianity.”
The first major petition drive to the popes for the solemn definition of Mary's universal mediation of grace (a long-standing Catholic doctrine taught by the Roman pontiffs) came from Belgian Cardinal Mercier in 1915, at which time he received the positive support of hundreds of Catholic bishops. In the early 1920s, the petition was also strongly endorsed by Fr. Maximilian Kolbe (who was later canonized by Pope John Paul II), founder of the international Marian movement, Militia Immaculatae (“Army of the Immaculate”), and who offered his life in martyrdom in Auschwitz in 1941.
Cardinal Toppo, President of India’s Conference of Catholic Bishops and cardinal co-patron of the 2005 Fatima symposium stated in his address, “The title ‘co’ clarifies it all. She is in no way the Redemptrix of humanity, and yet by the will of God and her humble human co-operation, she truly is, and deserves to be called/designated/honoured as ‘Co-redemptrix.’”
Cardinal Aponte Martínez, also cardinal co-patron at the Fatima conference, offers the following comment in support of the present timeliness of this potential dogma by Benedict XVI: “I believe the time is now for the papal definition of the relationship of the Mother of Jesus to the each one of us, her earthly children, in her roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate. To solemnly proclaim Mary as the spiritual mother of all peoples is to fully and officially recognize her titles, and consequently to activate, to bring to new life the spiritual, intercessory functions they offer the Church for the New Evangelization, and for humanity in our serious present world situation.”
For more information, please contact the Secretariat at the following address:
Cardinal Co-patrons of 2005 Fatima Symposium
C/o Secretariat: C.M. Madonna delle Indulgenze
Casalucense 03049 S. Elia Fiume Rapido (FR)
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