I am writing this article to counter certain serious theological errors promoted by the group called “Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici,” which is Latin for 'The voice of the people for Mary the Mediatrix.'
In my theological opinion, the Blessed Virgin Mary does have a true role as co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocatrix given to her by God. But this role has been widely misunderstood and misrepresented, even by various theologians and by its most ardent supporters. My own speculative theology on this topic is found in my article: co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocatrix
. Although I agree that the titles are fitting and true, if properly understood, this article raises some serious objections to the way that these three proposed titles for Mary have been treated by Vox Populi and its supporters.
The Vox Populi website does not merely promote these three titles of the Virgin Mary and ask the Magisterium for a definition. They promote a very specific theological position as to what each of these titles means. In my opinion, there are numerous points within their specific theological position which are serious theological errors. But they also err more generally in the way that the treat this proposal for the definition of these titles. (This article reviews the general errors; future articles will address more specific theological errors within the 'proposed dogma.')
- The precise form and meaning of these titles is an open question
The Blessed Virgin Mary has, at various times in the history of the Church, by Popes and Saints, by the Second Vatican Council, and by various Cardinals and Bishops, been referred to by one or another of these three titles, in various forms. But no Council or Pope (to my knowledge) has used these three titles together, within an ordinary teaching, as a single expression.
The wording of these three titles varies. Some Saints or Blesseds have called Mary 'Redemptrix,' rather than 'co-Redemptrix;' Pope Leo XIII called Mary the 'co-Redemptress.' The Virgin Mary has more often been referred to as simply 'Mediatrix,' and also 'Mediatrix of grace.' Vatican II refers to Mary as 'Mediatrix,' but also as 'Auxiliatrix' and 'Adjutrix.' The specific title 'Mediatrix of all grace' is used much less often, with more sources in the history of the Church omitting 'all grace' than including it. Pope Pius VII called Mary the 'Dispensatrix of all graces.' Finally, Mary has often been referred to as being, in some way, our Advocate, including the use of this word in a feminine grammatical form. However, the specific version of this title used by Vox Populi, namely 'Advocate for the People of God,' is apparently their own formulation.
But the mere use of these three titles for Mary by the Church, almost always separately and in varying forms, does not establish any particular specific theological position, as to the proper form and definition of these titles, as a doctrine under even the Ordinary Magisterium. These titles have been used in a variety of different ways to express a range of different ideas about the Virgin Mary's role in our salvation. Therefore, the precise form and meaning of these titles for Mary is an open question.
One of the serious theological problems with the Vox Populi position is that they do not consider these titles, and their precise theological meaning, to be an open question. They present their own theological position as if it were the teaching of the Church, especially the teaching of the Ordinary Papal Magisterium, and a teaching which requires the religious submission of will and intellect from all the faithful.
- The teaching of Vox Populi is not teaching of the Church
Vox Populi presents these three titles for Mary in one particular form (“Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate of the people of God”), and with their own very specific theological position as to what each term supposedly means. They are free to do so, because the precise form and meaning of these titles is an open theological question. But not to them.
Vox Populi makes a serious theological error by presenting their own specific theological position as if it were in no way speculative, and as if it were already the teaching of the Church and required belief. Some quotes from their website will illustrate this point, but this error is general and influences nearly all of their writings and the writings of their supporters.
The universal mediation of the Mother of Jesus as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate for the people of God is already contained in the official and authoritative teachings of the Church's Magisterium. Now, at the summit of the Marian era, what remains is the final proclamation by the Church of this final Marian doctrine as Christian dogma revealed by God.
The rest of the text on the same page also presents these titles, and the Vox Populi definition of their meaning, as if these were a teaching of the Church; there is no indication that any portion of this idea is speculative. There is no indication that there might be open theological questions on this matter. They present this idea as settled doctrine:
It is now time for the church, at the summit of this Marian era, to proclaim and define the fifth and final Marian doctrine, that is, Mary's universal mediation as coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all grace, and advocate for the people of God…. When the Church invokes Mary under the title, “Coredemptrix”, she means that Mary uniquely participated in the redemption of the human family by Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour…. Because of this intimate sharing in the redemption accomplished by the Lord, the Mother of the Redeemer is uniquely and rightly referred to by Pope John Paul II and the Church as the “Coredemptrix.”… Secondly, Mary is invoked in the Church under the title Mediatrix of all grace…. For this reason, Vatican II refers to Mary as a “mother to us in the order of grace” (Lumen Gentium, n. 62) and several twentieth century popes have officially taught the doctrine of Mary as Mediatrix of all graces, quoting the words of St Bernard: “It is the will of God that we obtain all favours through Mary…. If you would like to share, as a member of the faithful, in placing this final dogmatic crown on the head of our Immaculate Mother and Queen during the climax of the Age of Mary, please fill out the petition….”
Notice that the above quotes present the Vox Populi understanding of these titles, as if this were identical to the teaching of the Church. There is no suggestion at all that any point of theology in this matter is an open question, or that any point is unique to Vox Populi. They claim that they are merely presenting the reader with the teaching of the Church.
They also view any use of any of these titles by various Popes, Saints, or Blesseds as confirming, in effect, all the particular details of their own unique theological position. If a Pope or Council calls Mary 'Mediatrix,' or any other term which is in any way related to the Vox Populi position, then they cite this as a confirmation of their own teaching. They are presenting their own unique specific theological position, as if it were nothing other than the constant teaching of the Church and the Popes.
The Petition itself makes this point very clear:
“With filial love, we the faithful wish to humbly petition you, the Vicar of Christ, to solemnly define as Christian dogma the Church's constant teaching on Mary's co redemptive role with Christ the Redeemer of humanity.”
Their petition has the gall to inform the Pope that this idea about Mary is already the Church's constant teaching. The petition treats the Pope as if his role were merely to solemnly define what has already been taught by the Church's constant teaching. In other words, they fully expect the Pope to make an infallible proclamation of the Vox Populi position, without any change. This expectation of an infallible rubber stamp from the Pope also shows in the wording that they use elsewhere on the site. They continually refer to this idea as 'the dogma,' and 'the fifth Marian dogma,' and 'this final dogmatic crown,' as if its exact meaning were already certain and already the teaching of the Church.
Now the crux of the problem here is that Vox Populi fails to distinguish between their own speculative theology on this particular topic, and the ineffable teaching of the Church. Vox Populi makes a serious theological error by presenting their own particular speculative theology, as if it were identical to Church teaching. They never acknowledge that, while the Church may well have a teaching on this topic, they may have misunderstood that teaching on various points. Instead, they present themselves as if they were merely informing the reader of the teaching of the Church, especially of the Popes.
- To disagree with Vox Populi is to disagree with the Church?
Therefore, whenever anyone disagrees with Vox Populi's position, offering instead a different understanding of these same roles and titles for Mary, they are said to be disagreeing with the Church. For example:
Q: What about the objection that Co-redemptrix is not a legitimate term because it is not in the language of Scripture and the Church Fathers?
A Pope has used one of these titles, therefore, any criticism of the Vox Populi position is a criticism of the Pope. This general attitude permeates the teachings of Vox Populi. The rest of this interview between Zenit and Mark Miravalle has Dr. Miravalle repeatedly answering questions in a matter of fact manner, as if he were merely explaining what the Church teaches. In that interview he states:
Miravalle: To object to the legitimacy of the title of Co-redemptrix is implicitly to criticize John Paul II, who, once again, has repeatedly used the title of Co-redemptrix.
The repeated and consistent teachings of our Holy Father on Mary as Co-redemptrix in papal addresses and homilies is a manifestation of the mind and ordinary magisterium of the Pope that does call for our religious submission of will and intellect, according to Lumen Gentium, 25.
In other words, the teaching of Vox Populi is the ordinary teaching of the Pope, and the faithful are required to believe the ordinary teaching of the Pope, therefore, the faithful are required to believe, and may not dissent from, the Vox Populi position.
Msgr. Arthur B. Calkins, a theologian who works closely with Vox Populi, has also repeatedly referred to this section of Lumen Gentium, 25 (which requires assent to ordinary teachings of the Pope) with the clear suggestion that these teachings of Vox Populi are essentially the same as the teaching of the Ordinary Papal Magisterium, from which Catholics (in his view) are not free to dissent.
Although there are some mariologists who want to label all of these usages as “marginal [and] therefore devoid of doctrinal weight”, I beg to differ with them and find their judgment strangely out of harmony with the declaration of Lumen Gentium 25 on the Pope's ordinary magisterium.
The term 'religious submission of will and intellect' refers to the degree and type of assent required of all Catholics for any ordinary teaching of the Church. Notice that Dr. Miravalle and Msgr. Calkins equates the Vox Populi position with the ordinary teaching of the Pope, in such a way that any dissent from the Vox Populi version of this idea is said to be sinful dissent from Church teaching, as required by Vatican II and the Catechism. This attitude permeates the work of Vox Populi. Vox Populi claims to be merely presenting a teaching of the Popes and Saints and Cardinals and Bishops, and anyone who disagrees with the former is really disagreeing with the latter.
This point was brought home to me when I received two e-mails in reaction to my previous article on this subject, one from Mark Miravalle and one signed 'Staff of Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici.' Both e-mails plainly stated that by criticizing the Vox Populi position, I was indicting the Ordinary Papal Magisterium, and a great number of Cardinals and Bishops (who were also theologians), and in effect accusing numerous Popes of theological error.
To criticize Vox Populi is to criticize the Church. To disagree with Vox Populi is to disagree with the Church.
Now understand, my article emphatically agrees that Mary is co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocatrix, and it argues in favor of these titles for Mary. But because my theological position is somewhat different from the Vox Populi position, and because I criticized certain ideas which they promote, I was kindly asked not to use terms like “theological error” in reference to the work of Vox Populi. In other words, they believe that their theological position cannot be in error. (For more on this point, see the section below, 'Is the Ordinary Magisterium infallible?')
In fact, I am unable to find any suggestion anywhere in the writings of Vox Populi, which would present any theological point made by Vox Populi, small or great, as anything other than the clear and cogent teaching of the Church and the Popes, and a required belief under the Ordinary Magisterium. It is a serious theological error to teach the faithful that an idea in speculative theology is a required belief in the Church, to which the faithful must give their religious submission of will and intellect, and from which the faithful may not dissent.
But in my opinion, Vox Populi's specific theological position is not a teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium and is not, in any sense of the word, a dogma. Although the Church has used these titles, the Magisterium has not defined the precise theological meaning of each title, nor decided on one form for these titles, nor has it generally used all three titles together, as one term.
And there are numerous theological points claimed by Vox Populi which have no support at all in Church teaching.
- Many Vox Populi teachings come from private revelation
Vox Populi uses certain points of agreement between their ideas and Church teachings to deceitfully represent their entire theological treatise on this topic as if it were Church teaching. They use the fact that these titles for Mary have been used, in various forms, by Popes, Vatican II, and Saints to support their claim that they are merely teaching what the Church teaches.
But in fact many Vox Populi teachings are based on the private revelations to Ida Peerdeman of Amsterdam, who claims that Mary called herself 'The Lady of All Nations who once was Mary.'
The Vox Populi claim that these titles represent the fifth and final Marian dogma, and that proclamation of this dogma will usher in a new era of peace, and that its proclamation is required for Mary to be able to release all the graces needed for the world, all these ideas come from the claimed private revelations to Ida Peerdeman. Such ideas are nowhere to be found in the writings of any Pope, Council, Saint, or Blessed. Yet Vox Populi presents its teaching as if it were the teaching of the Church. Dr. Miravalle also believes in Ida Peerdeman:
In light of the present world climate of war and rumors of war, I believe the proclamation of the dogma of Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate would be the means to release the full exercise of Our Lady's motherly intercessory role in bringing peace to a troubled world, in fulfillment of her Fatima promise that "in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph ... and a period of peace will be granted to the world." God respects human freedom, and the papal proclamation would "free her" to exercise fully her saving roles for contemporary humanity.
Notice that this quote from Miravalle begins with an apocalyptic reference ('wars and rumors of wars,' Mt. 24). He then claims that the proclamation of 'the dogma' will somehow free Mary from some unspecified restraint, so that she can bring a new era of peace to the world. This Vox Populi claim that Mary cannot give all the graces that the world needs without this proclamation of a dogma is not found anywhere in Church teaching; it is not based on Tradition or Scripture. Miravalle cleverly covers this point by an allusion to Scripture and a reference to Fatima. But this idea actually comes from the claimed private revelations to Ida Peerdeman (See point #7 in this article). Notice that Miravalle is presenting ideas taken from private revelation, but he never mentions the source in this interview.
Furthermore, the very use of the term 'dogma' for this idea in speculative theology is based on the very same use of that term in the messages of Ida Peerdeman. Her writings repeatedly call this idea 'the dogma' and they call for the Pope to 'proclaim the dogma.' Her messages of claimed private revelation repeatedly stated that the particular Pope who was in office at the time would proclaim the dogma. And with each Pope's passing, a new message was given saying that now this new Pope would 'proclaim the dogma.' Again and again, each Pope was said by these messages, supposedly from Heaven, to be the one who would proclaim it. And each and every such claim by those messages of Ida Peerdeman turned out to be false.
Yet now, Vox Populi has taken the same place that was formerly occupied by Ida Peerdeman, in as much as they have taken up the same call, to each Pope who is in office, and then to his successor, to press for a proclamation of 'the dogma.' The same ideas promoted by Peerdeman are found in the writings of Vox Populi, yet these are presented as if they were Church teaching and required belief.
It is a serious theological error to take ideas from private revelation (especially a widely discredited claimed private revelation such as that to Ida Peerdeman) and present them as if they were the teaching of the Church and required belief. Nowhere in the writings of Vox Populi is there any statement (as far as I am aware) that some of Vox Populi's teachings are not the teaching of the Church, but are speculative theology based on private revelation. All ideas associated with these titles for Mary are presented as if they were the ordinary teaching of the Church and required belief and at least a 'proposed dogma.'
- Developing Doctrine or Proposed Dogma?
Since titles and terminology are not teachings, they certainly cannot be, in and of themselves, dogmas. And the particular theological position offered by Vox Populi is not the only possible faithful and reasonable understanding of these titles. The meaning of these titles, and their proper form, should be considered an open question among the faithful, at best an emerging doctrine which is subject to on-going development, not a dogma.
Now the faithful participate in the Magisterium of the Church, not by teaching authoritatively, but by seeking new insights into Tradition and Scripture. And such new insights may eventually be taught by the ordinary Magisterium, and perhaps later, these might be defined infallibly by the Magisterium. But the path to an infallible definition does not begin with infallibility. Such an idea begins as theological speculation, and almost always such speculation is in need of significant further development. The idea is pruned of incorrect or imperfect premises or conclusions; it is amended with further, deeper insights; it is purified of errors. And this path of change within a speculative idea does not reach its conclusion until the idea has been taught infallibly and authoritatively by the Magisterium. Therefore, the faithful can never present the Magisterium with even a 'proposed dogma;' they can only participate in the development of an idea which may one day become a dogma.
Nor can the faithful claim that an idea has already matured among the faithful, that it is already pruned and amended and purified, so that it only remains to be infallibly approved by the Pope. The faithful can present a speculative idea and can participate in its development, but the pruning and amending and purification of the speculative idea should not be considered complete until the Magisterium itself authoritatively teaches the idea.
Such is not the case with the Vox Populi petition and their other documents and assertions. They repeatedly refer to their own version of this speculative idea as, alternately the ordinary teaching of the Pope, and as 'the dogma.' Even the logo for their website, which is at the top of most of the pages, has a subtitle under the name of the group: “For Information and Promotion of the 5th Marian Dogma.” They have already decided that this is a dogma, that there are only four other Marian dogmas, and that this dogma will be the next and last Marian dogma to be defined. In fact, the phrase 'proposed dogma' only occurs on their site a few times; much more often this idea is merely called 'the dogma.' Their website and the articles on it repeatedly speak about this idea as if it were already a dogma. And yet they also represent this same 'dogma' as a teaching under the Ordinary Magisterium.
It is not merely the use of the term 'the dogma,' which indicates that they think of this idea as already complete in its development. The general attitude of the group, its leaders, and its followers is not that of presenting an idea which is open to further development, or which is somewhat speculative in nature. They present their theological position as if any disagreement with any of its points is necessarily false, without any need for an examination of an opposing theological argument. Their own position is treated as dogmatic, in that they admit no possibility of error on any point that they make, and they treat all disagreement as certainly and necessarily false.
The concept of development of doctrine has been replaced with the concept of proposed dogma.
A lay organization has decided the exact form that a doctrine should take. Any disagreement with their position is said to be a disagreement with the teaching of the Church. For they now claim that their own exact form of this doctrine is already the teaching of the Church. And any use of any similar term or title by anyone in the Church is presented as supposed proof that the one using that title or term agrees with their precise theological position. And finally they offer it, in one fixed form, to the Roman Pontiff for approval as a dogma.
Never before in the history of the Church has a lay organization been so presumptuous as to define a dogma in advance of the Magisterium, spread that claimed dogma around the world, gather millions (supposedly) of petitions supporting their precise theological position, and then pressure the Pope to infallibly define what they already call a dogma. It is as if they expect the Pope to infallibly approve of their own theological position without any input from the rest of the Church.
Now the development of doctrine should involve the whole Church. All the faithful should be able to participate, in some way, in the development of an emerging doctrine. Theologians and the faithful might express different points of view. The doctrine would change as it develops; it should grow and mature. The Magisterium becomes involved in this process, even in advance of teaching it under the Ordinary Magisterium, by pruning away erroneous versions of the idea, and by giving guidance, even while perhaps not deciding the doctrine at that early stage. Eventually the doctrine may mature, by means of differences of opinion and the combined theological insights of the faithful, and theologians, and priests, and the Magisterium.
But the Vox Populi theological position on these titles is an in-house doctrine, developed and set in stone by Vox Populi. The only theologians or clergy which they cite are those who agree with them and their petition. They are dismayed that this proposed dogma has not already been approved by the Church. Theological commissions have rejected their very specific theological position, because the doctrine has not developed sufficiently in the Church. But the response of Vox Populi has been to continue to present the same position over and over again, with the exact same wording, ever more emphatically, as if it were already a dogma. There is no real dialogue with those who have differing ideas about these titles and their meaning. Anyone who disagrees with Vox Populi is said to be disagreeing with the Church.
Treating an idea in speculative theology as if it were already a dogma is a serious theological error. Treating a developing doctrine, as if it were already irreformable, inerrant, and immune to further development, is a serious theological error. Repeatedly referring to an idea in speculative theology as 'the dogma,' 'this final dogmatic crown,' 'the fifth Marian dogma,' and even as 'the proposed dogma' is a serious theological error.
And it is a serious theological error replace the process of the development of doctrine within the whole body of the faithful with the particular theological position of one lay organization.
- Vox Populi versus the rest of the Church
Vox Populi has an online petition supporting their particular version of this idea, and asking the Pope to define it infallibly. They claim that nearly 7 million persons have signed the petition. But throughout their site, they treat this idea as if it belonged to Vox Populi and was being presented to the Pope. It is as if this idea were their own property. They see the idea as coming from them and going to the Pope for his infallible approval. And all those who signed the petition are assumed to agree with the specific Vox Populi theological position, in its entirety, and the specific wording of the petition, and all that it implies.
They pay lip service to the suggestion that the Pope might change the proposed dogma as they present it to him, that he might define it differently. But notice that no one else is involved in this suggestion: they present the idea to the Pope, and they expect him to approve it as is, or perhaps to change it in some minor way, but the rest of the Church is excised from the entire process of the development of this idea.
The Vox Populi position is that these titles for Mary and their precise definition is already set in stone. All that is left is for the Pope to define it infallibly. Maybe they will admit that the Pope could define it differently than Vox Populi defines it. But even so, it is Vox Populi and the Pope. No one else is involved at all. Vox Populi can cite many theologians and priests who support one and the same position with them. But they treat this emerging doctrine as if they possess it. And they admit no interference from any other point of view. They do not see this as a doctrine in the process of development, but as settled doctrine, presented by their organization to the Pope directly. There are those who agree with and support Vox Populi, and then there is the Pope. No one else is involved, in their view.
They do not see their role as one of many voices. They are THE Voice of the People for Mary the Mediatrix. There are no other voices, except those who are dissenting from what they claim is Church teaching. There is no development of this emerging doctrine; they are informing the faithful as to what the Church teaches and presenting the same to the Pope for his certain approval. Instead of many voices in the Church discussing this idea openly, there is one voice, and all others are interlopers.
Apparently, anyone who disagrees with the Vox Populi position must need to educate themselves further about the teaching of the Church.
- Usurping the Magisterium
Vox Populi has not only defined a dogma apart from the Magisterium, and then pressured the Pope to define it infallibly, they have also taught their particular, specific, and in my opinion very speculative version of this idea to the faithful of the Church worldwide. And they do not present it to the faithful as speculative theology, nor even as a developing or emerging possible doctrine. It is presented as a dogma. It is specifically and repeatedly called 'the dogma' and 'the fifth Marian dogma' and 'the fifth and final Marian dogma' and 'this final Marian dogma.'
In effect, Vox Populi has usurped the Magisterium by defining a dogma, and teaching this dogma worldwide. They claim to be merely presenting this proposed dogma humbly to the Pope. But in the meantime, they have spread 'the dogma' worldwide and they have succeeded in convincing millions of Catholics to agree with their exact form of this idea. Millions of Catholics already believe what Vox Populi has taught them under the title of 'the fifth Marian dogma,' but in advance of any Magisterial decision to define it as a dogma.
Vox Populi has brought about a situation where millions of Catholics have signed a petition saying they believe in a particular version of this idea, before the Church has decided the question. And this 'proposed dogma,' in the very specific form that it is given by Vox Populi, is full of theological errors (see my other articles). What will happen if a Pope or a Council eventually defines these titles for Mary, but in a manner which is directly opposed to what Vox Populi has taught to millions of Catholics as 'the dogma'? Many Catholics, having long accepted the Vox Populi version of this idea, will be hard pressed to change their minds and hearts to conform to a new infallible definition.
Therefore, this situation, wherein a lay organization spreads a teaching around the world, with the alternating and contradictory claims that it is either a dogma, or the ordinary teaching of the Magisterium and required belief, is harmful to the spiritual life of the Church.
- Is the Ordinary Magisterium infallible?
Pope John Paul II spoke to some of the U.S. Bishops during their Ad Limina visit of 1998:
“This magisterium is not above the divine word but serves it with a specific charisma veritatis certum, which includes the charism of infallibility, present not only in the solemn definitions of the Roman Pontiff and of Ecumenical Councils, but also in the universal ordinary magisterium, which can truly be considered as the usual expression of the Church's infallibility…. With respect to the non-infallible expressions of the authentic magisterium of the Church, these should be received with religious submission of mind and will.”
The Pope taught that the Magisterium is only infallible in three ways:
(Address Of The Holy Father John Paul II To The Bishops From The United States Of America On Their 'ad Limina' Visit, 15 October 1988)
1) solemn definitions of the Roman Pontiff
2) solemn definitions of Ecumenical Councils
3) the ordinary universal Magisterium
All other teachings of the Magisterium are ordinary and non-infallible.
Now these ordinary non-infallible teachings “should be received with religious submission of mind and will,” not because they are infallible or inerrant, but because they are a reliable guide to salvation. Therefore, the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church is not infallible, and is subject to possible error, though not to such an extent as to lead the faithful away from the path of salvation.
Now the Ordinary Universal Magisterium is infallible, while the Ordinary Magisterium itself is non-infallible. Concerning the Ordinary Universal Magisterium, the Church teaches the following:
“Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim Christ's doctrine infallibly whenever, even though dispersed through the world, but still maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, and authentically teaching matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement on one position as definitively to be held.”
Thus, the Ordinary Universal Magisterium is exercised when a teaching, which usually begins under the ordinary non-infallible Magisterium, has been taught universally by the Pope (or by successive Popes) and by the Bishops “dispersed through the world.” When a teaching has been taught by the Pope, or by the Bishops, or by the body of Bishops led by the Pope, but not so widely and with such unanimity as to be a truly universal teaching of the Church, then that teaching falls under the Ordinary Magisterium, which is non-infallible.
(Lumen Gentium, n. 25)
Now non-infallible teachings of the Ordinary Magisterium are guided by the Holy Spirit, but these teachings are nevertheless permitted by the Holy Spirit to contain errors on particular points of doctrine, including on matters of faith, morals, and salvation, though never to such an extent that any error, or set of errors, would lead the faithful away from the path of salvation.
In the case of the Ordinary Papal Magisterium, when the Pope teaches by himself, without an Ecumenical Council and without the universality of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium, his teaching is only infallible when the criteria for an infallible Papal teaching have been met. These criteria were infallibly taught by the First Vatican Council, and reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council. Whenever a teaching of the Pope himself does not meet all of the criteria for Papal Infallibility, then his teaching is non-infallible, falling under the Ordinary Papal Magisterium, not under any mode of infallibility.
The First Vatican Council infallibly defined the following:
Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian religion, for the glory of God our Savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the salvation of the Christian people, with the approval of the sacred council, we teach and define that it is a divinely revealed dogma that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, i.e., when exercising his office as pastor and teacher of all Christians he defines, by his supreme apostolic authority, a doctrine of faith or morals which must be held by the universal Church, enjoys, through the divine assistance, that infallibility promised to him in blessed Peter and with which the divine Redeemer wanted His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine of faith and morals; and therefore that the definitions of the same Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves and not from the consent of the Church.
Anyone who believes or teaches that the Pope himself always teaches infallibly, or that he can ever teach infallibly by himself and without meeting the criteria within this definition of the First Vatican Council, has contradicted the infallible teaching of the Council and has fallen into abject heresy.
(Pastor Aeternus, chap. 4)
If anyone should presume to contradict this definition of ours, may God prevent this happening, anathema sit. (Pastor Aeternus, chap. 4)
- Summary of General Errors
In my opinion, Vox Populi makes the following serious theological errors:
1. The use of terms such as 'the dogma,' 'the fifth Marian dogma,' 'the fifth and final Marian dogma,' 'this final Marian dogma,' 'this final dogmatic crown,' and even 'the proposed dogma,' which usage has the effect of usurping the role of the Magisterium in defining true dogmas and of misleading the faithful into thinking that the Vox Populi position is somehow dogmatic.
2. The repeated and emphatic claim that the theological position of Vox Populi is not to any extent speculative, but is instead the ordinary teaching of the Church and the Popes.
3. The repeated clear suggestion that the faithful are required to give the religious submission of will and intellect to the theological position of Vox Populi on this topic because that position is nothing other than the ordinary teaching of the Church.
4. The presumptive role taken by Vox Populi within the Church to form a proposed dogma, to gather support by means of a petition, and to present the proposed dogma directly to the Pope for his approval, exclusive of those theologians and the remainder of the body of the faithful who might disagree with the Vox Populi position.
5. The refusal of Vox Populi to admit that any different theological position, other than its own, could be a faithful and reasonable explanation of the form and meaning of these titles of the Virgin Mary, or to admit that any of its own theological positions might be in error or in need of improvement.
6. The complete lack of dialogue with theologians and members of the faithful who do not agree with the specific theological position taken by that organization. Those who disagree are met with the same explanations of the same ideas in the same wording, presented as if these ideas were irreformable and inerrant teachings.
7. The presumptive role taken by Vox Populi to teach this idea to the faithful worldwide, under the name of a dogma, as if it were one position definitively to be held by all the faithful, instead of taking a more reasonable role by participating with other persons outside of their group in developing an emerging doctrine which is subject to error and correction, change and improvement.
8. The assumption that everyone who has signed the petition of Vox Populi necessarily agrees with the specific form and meaning that Vox Populi has given to these titles for Mary, as opposed to the reasonable and likely conclusion that many of the signatories merely agree with these titles in a more general way.
9. The claim that no further development of doctrine is needed, but that the idea is ready to be defined infallibly, thereby suggesting that this idea is completely true and entirely without error.
10. The claim that the precise form and meaning of these titles is not an open theological question, that anyone who disagrees with the teaching of Vox Populi is disagreeing with the teaching of the Church, and that any criticism of the Vox Populi position is a criticism of the Church and of all the Bishops and Cardinals who have signed the petition.
11. Vox Populi has taken certain ideas, whose sole source is the claimed private revelations of Ida Peerdeman, and they have folded them into their theological position, without acknowledging this disreputable source. Such ideas include the claim that these titles for Mary: are a dogma, are the fifth dogma, are the final dogma, will usher in an age of peace, are associated with the last days, and must be proclaimed as a dogma in order to “free” the Virgin Mary to dispense graces that she could otherwise not dispense.
12. The claim that, not only has this idea already been taught by the ordinary Papal Magisterium, but also, merely by virtue of having been taught by the ordinary Papal Magisterium, it is already an infallible teaching.
by Ronald L. Conte Jr.
October 23, 2006