This article is being written to counter the false claim that the Virgin Mary's role as co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocatrix is the fifth and final Marian dogma.
- Some Quotes illustrating the extent of this erroneous claim
Some quotes (with my emphasis added in bold) from Vox Populi, Dr. Mark Miravalle, and other theologians illustrating this claim that 'the Dogma' is the fifth Marian dogma, is the final Marian dogma, and is, in effect, already an infallible teaching of the Church which merely lacks a final approval from the Pope that it is certain to receive.
1. “It is not a question of if the Dogma will be proclaimed, but when the Dogma will be proclaimed.”
(Open letter of Dr. Mark Miravalle, 1998, voxpopuli.org)
2. “Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici For Information and Promotion of the 5th Marian Dogma”
(The title and headline of the voxpopuli.org website, found at the top of nearly every page of the site)
3. “Up to the present time in the history of the church, four Marian doctrines have been defined as central Catholic truths by the Church: the Motherhood of God, the Immaculate Conception, the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, and her Glorious Assumption into heaven. 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.” (From the article page entitled 'Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate,' and subtitled, 'THE FIFTH MARIAN DOGMA';
4. “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.”
5. “Classically understood, solemnly proclaimed dogmas are the fruits of either ecumenical councils confirmed by the Holy Father or through ex cathedra papal proclamations (i.e., Immaculate Conception, 1854, Assumption, 1950). Although I also personally hold to the infallibility of the ordinary Magisterium, it would not be considered the producer of solemnly defined dogmas, but rather the extra-ordinary Magisterium of ecumenical councils or papal ex cathedra statements.”
(E-mail to the author from Dr. Mark Miravalle on 10-20-2006)
6. “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….”
7. “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.” (Interview of Dr. Mark Miravalle by Zenit.org;
8. “It has been noted that there are already four dogmas about Mary. They are that she is (1) the Mother of God (Theotokos); (2) ever-virgin; that she was (3) immaculately conceived and (4) assumed body and soul into heaven.”
(The Proposed Marian Dogma: The "What" and the "Why" by Msgr. Arthur B. Calkins;
9. “According to these revelations received by Ida Peerdeman, the Virgin herself effectively asserted that 'the last and greatest Marian dogma' is already a part of the Church's doctrinal patrimony.
(The Theological Relevance of Our Lady of All Nations and the Amsterdam Apparitions, by Msgr. Arthur B. Calkins; from the Vox Populi website:
10. “Still further, no Council has the right to cancel previous papal teaching, especially when that teaching, on the ordinary Magisterium level, is repeated. For such repeated teaching is infallible. 2. The following papal texts cited above speak in varied ways of her as Mediatrix of all graces…. Again, since a doctrine repeatedly taught on the Ordinary Magisterium level is infallibly taught - so many repetitions of this doctrine mark it as infallible.”
(Our Lady In Doctrine and Devotion, by Fr. William G. Most;
- Not the Fifth Marian Dogma
The claim that these three titles for Mary constitute the fifth Marian dogma is based on the assertion that only four Marian dogmas are currently found within the teaching of the Magisterium. These four Marian dogmas are usually listed as in quote 8 above: 1) Immaculate Conception, 2) Assumption, 3) Mother of God (Theotokos), 4) Perpetual Virginity (ever-virgin). Now certainly each of these teachings has been taught by the Church infallibly.
However, the claim that there are only four dogmas (with the proposed dogma counting as fifth) is based on a very narrow definition of what constitutes a Dogma. Dr. Mark Miravalle asserts in quote 5 above that a teaching is not a dogma, even if it has been infallibly taught by the Universal Magisterium, unless it has been solemnly defined under Papal Infallibility or by an Ecumenical Council. But there are a number of problems with this restrictive definition of the term 'dogma.'
First, the Marian dogma which teaches that Mary is ever-virgin, in other words, that her virginity is perpetual, was never defined under Papal Infallibility, nor by an Ecumenical Council. There is no solemn definition which specifically and infallibly teaches that Mary is ever-virgin. Now this teaching is certainly a teaching of the infallible ordinary and universal Magisterium, and so the doctrine itself is indisputable. But under the narrow definition of the term dogma used by supporters of the Vox Populi position, there would only be three current Marian dogmas, and their proposed dogma would be fourth, not fifth.
There are a three Papal or Conciliar sources often cited as perhaps providing us with a solemn definition of Mary's perpetual virginity.
The Lateran Council of 649 A.D.
There were five Ecumenical Councils which were held at the Lateran, in the following years: 1123, 1139, 1179, 1215, and 1512-1517. However, the Council of 649 was not a general or Ecumenical Council, and so it lacked the ability to issue an infallible solemn definition. Therefore, its true teaching that Mary is ever-virgin does not meet the narrower criteria for a dogma.
Cum Quorundam, 1555 A.D.
Pope Paul IV wrote, in the Constitution Cum Quorundam (1555): “[The opinion is condemned that Jesus Christ] was not conceived according to the flesh by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, ever Virgin... or that the same most blessed Virgin Mary is not the true mother of God and did not retain her virginity intact before the birth, in the birth, and after the birth in perpetuity.”
The problem with this citation is that it is not sufficient to meet the criteria for Papal Infallibility which were infallibly defined by the First Vatican Council. The Council did not define Papal Infallibility such that every teaching of the Pope on faith and morals would be infallible, nor did it define it so that every condemnation of a false or heretical theological position would constitute an infallible definition of the opposing position.
Other Popes have condemned various theological ideas, without such condemnations rising to the level of an infallible solemn definition. For example, the Bull issued by Pius VI in 1794 called Auctorem Fidei lists a number of theological ideas that were condemned, with varying levels of force, as heretical, or as erroneous, or as false, rash, and injurious. Condemnations of various heretical or false theological ideas were also issued by Pope Pius IX in 1864, under the title 'Syllabus of Errors.' Many Popes throughout the history of the Church have condemned various theological errors in various ways. If every such condemnation were held to be a solemn definition, then the Popes would in effect be unable to condemn any false theological position by means of non-infallible expressions of the authentic magisterium of the Church. No one can hold that all such condemnations constitute infallible solemn definitions, and are therefore each and all dogmatic infallible pronouncements, without in effect nullifying the infallible definition of the First Vatican Council on Papal Infallibility. Consequently, the Popes are free to exercise either the infallible or the non-infallible Magisterium of the Church when teaching truth or condemning error.
Fifth Ecumenical Council: Constantinople II, 553 A.D.
This Council taught that the Virgin Mary is the Mother of God and issued an anathema against all who would deny that she is the Mother of God. The decree used the term 'ever-virgin Mary' to refer the Virgin Mary. However, there was no solemn definition of this term, nor any anathema directly concerned with Mary's perpetual virginity, nor any decree which could be considered as possibly offering an infallible solemn definition of Mary's perpetual virginity. The mere mention of a term within a solemn decree does not establish that term as infallible when that term is not specifically defined and infallibly taught.
The same consideration applies to other Ecumenical Councils which have referred to, but not defined, the perpetual virginity of Mary. Certainly, the Virgin Mary is ever-virgin, and this doctrine is infallibly taught under the Universal Magisterium, but it has not been solemnly defined by any Council or Pope.
The Marian Library in Dayton, Ohio, has a good article on this point, namely that Mary's Perpetual Virginity is an infallible teaching and a dogma (under a less restrictive definition of the term 'dogma'), but was never solemnly defined by a Pope or Ecumenical Council.
The old Catholic Encyclopedia at newadvent.org has another good article on the proper definition of the term 'dogma,' (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05089a.htm) which argues for a less restrictive definition than the one necessary to the Vox Populi position.
Now if we were to use the restrictive definition of the term 'dogma' advocated by Dr. Mark Miravalle, there would be only three Marian dogmas: the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, and Mary as the Mother of God. For the infallible teaching of Mary's Perpetual Virginity has not been solemnly defined, but is infallibly taught under the Ordinary Universal Magisterium. Therefore, the so-called 'proposed dogma' would then be, if it were defined next, fourth and not fifth.
More importantly, if we include as Marian dogmas those fundamental doctrines about the Virgin Mary which have been taught infallibly by a Pope, or an Ecumenical Council, or even the Ordinary Universal Magisterium, then certainly there are already more than five Marian dogmas.
In my theological opinion, this broader use of the term 'dogma' is more fitting because a fundamental doctrine found in Divine Revelation and infallibly taught by the Universal Magisterium, is just as certainly true as a fundamental doctrine found in Divine Revelation and infallibly taught by the solemn definition of a Pope or Ecumenical Council. An infallible fundamental teaching is no less infallible and no less fundamental whether taught under one or another of the three modes by which the Magisterium teaches infallibly.
Fundamental Marian doctrines which have been taught by the Universal Magisterium include Mary's perpetual sinlessness, her role as Mother of the Church, her role as Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and her Queenship in Heaven. Therefore, in my theological opinion, the current number of Marian dogmas, using a definition of the term dogma which includes all fundamental doctrines about the Virgin Mary that have been taught by the Magisterium infallibly is as follows:
1. Mary's Immaculate Conception
2. Mary's Perpetual Virginity
3. Mary's Perpetual Sinlessness
4. Mary as Mother of God
5. Mary as Spouse of the Holy Spirit
6. Mary's participation in the sufferings of Christ
7. Mary as Mother of the Church
8. Mary's Assumption to Heaven
9. Mary's Queenship in Heaven
Therefore, there are today at least nine Marian dogmas, using a definition of the term dogma which includes all fundamental doctrines found in Divine Revelation and infallibly taught by the Magisterium. Since a more restrictive use of the term dogma would result in a count of only three Marian dogmas, the claim that the dogma proposed by Vox Populi is (or will be if defined soon) the fifth Marian dogma is a false and unsupportable claim.
- Not the Final Marian Dogma
Other important teachings about Mary, which at least fall under the Ordinary Magisterium, but might one day be taught infallibly, include Mary's perfect discipleship, the extent and manner of her participation in the sufferings of Christ, and her Dormition.
Now certainly the Dormition is a teaching of at least the Ordinary Magisterium, for the teaching that Mary died and rose from the dead prior to her Assumption is found in the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus, which also defines Mary's Assumption infallibly. In that Constitution, the Pope refers to the death of the Virgin Mary at least seven times, and to her resurrection at least twice. Also, the Dormition has been celebrated in the Catholic Church, particularly in the East, for many centuries, though it is less well-known in the West.
The death and resurrection of the Virgin Mary prior to her Assumption is a fundamental teaching. It relates to sin, which brought death into the world, and also to her perfect imitation of Christ, who died though he was sinless. Was Mary exempt from death because she was sinless, or was she subject to death because God willed her to imitate Christ fully? This question and its answer is fundamental to our understanding of sin, death, discipleship, and Mary. Therefore, the answer could one day be defined as a Dogma by the Church.
The Dormition is more well-developed theologically than Mary's role as co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocatrix.
But if the latter were defined first, the Dormition would remain to be defined infallibly later, making Mary's role as co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocatrix not the final Marian dogma.
Now the Dormition could possibly be defined first. This would defy the expectations of Vox Populi supporters, who believe that Mary's three-in-one role will be defined soon, and that there are no other teachings of the Church about Mary which remain to be taught. But even if the Dormition were defined first, so that one might claim that these three titles and their meaning were still the 'last Marian dogma,' there are other ideas, in speculative theology or in the ordinary teaching of the Church, which ask fundamental questions about Mary, whose answers are perhaps found, at least implicitly, in the Deposit of Faith, and which would then be subject to possible definition by the infallible teaching authority of the Church.
There are fundamental questions about Mary's sinlessness, her virginity, and her life, which are still far from being defined as dogmas, since these ideas are currently in the realm of speculative theology. Examples include: Was the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary also a miraculous virginal conception? Was her birth like the birth of Christ, virginal and miraculous? Will she return with Christ, when He himself returns, as this passage from Scripture can be interpreted:
Behold, over the mountains, the feet of the Evangelizer and the Announcer of peace! Judah, celebrate your festivals and keep your vows! For Belial will never again pass through you; he has completely passed away. (Nahum 1:15)
Since some of these ideas in the ordinary teaching of the Church are more well-developed and closer to being taught as dogmas, and other ideas in speculative theology are less well-developed and are further from being taught as dogmas, these three titles for Mary will very likely not be the final Marian dogma.
Vox Populi and its supports have so thoroughly taught the faithful this term, 'the fifth and final dogma,' that many of the faithful know it by that term, as if that term were the name for this idea. And yet there is no support in Tradition, Scripture, or Magisterium for the idea that this is the fifth or the final dogma. Perhaps it cannot be proven theologically that this idea will not be defined dogmatically as the last of the many Marian dogmas. But neither does Tradition or Scripture teach, even implicitly, that it is the final Marian dogma. And no Vox Populi theologian or supporter even tries to claim that this term 'fifth and final' is at all based on Tradition or Scripture. Yet the term 'fifth and final' is taught by Vox Populi to the faithful, without basis in the Sacred Deposit of Faith, and as if it were not merely true, but an integral part of 'the Dogma.'
Dogma can only be based on Tradition and Scripture, that is, on the Divine Revelation found in the Sacred Deposit of Faith. But Vox Populi has woven into the 'proposed dogma' significant ideas, whose source is nothing other than that of claimed private revelation. The extent of this infusion of ideas, from claimed private revelation into a so-called dogma, is so extensive that the definition of this 'proposed dogma' would have the effect of seeming to define ideas which are not found in the Sacred Deposit of Faith at all, not even implicitly.
- Not Yet A Dogma
Vox Populi claims that their movement to convince the Pope to 'proclaim the dogma' began in the 1920's with the work of Cardinal Mercier. There was some impetus in that time, by some persons, to understand and teach Mary's true roles under these titles. But at that time, no one was calling it 'the dogma,' nor even 'the proposed dogma.'
The sole reason that this idea began to be referred to as 'the dogma' is that the claimed private revelation to Ida Peerdeman contains messages which repeatedly and insistently refer to it as 'the dogma' and 'the last and greatest dogma,' and the like. And these messages pressed for the infallible definition of 'the dogma' during the reign of each successive Pope. There are messages corresponding to each Pope's pontificate, each message saying that the then-current Pope would 'proclaim the dogma.' And each of these messages turned out to be false, since each Pope died without proclaiming 'the dogma.'
Vox Populi was formed in 1993, and from the very beginning, the organization integrated ideas found solely in the claimed private revelation to Ida Peerdeman, including the use of the term 'dogma' to refer to an idea which, at best, is a combination of some ideas that have been taught by the Ordinary Magisterium, plus some ideas which are merely speculative, plus several significant ideas found solely in claimed private revelation and unsupportable in Tradition, Scripture, or Magisterium. On what basis has this idea been called 'the Dogma' prior to even a clear and comprehensive teaching on this topic by the Ordinary Magisterium? The sole basis is that Dr. Mark Miravalle, who founded Vox Populi, believes in the messages of Ida Peerdeman.
It is virtually unheard of in the history of Catholic theology, for a lay organization to have defined a theological position in great detail, AND to have incorporated significant elements from both claimed private revelation and speculative theology, AND to have labeled this position as a dogma in advance of any dogmatic decree by the Magisterium, AND to have taught it worldwide to millions of the faithful under the name: 'the fifth and final Marian Dogma.' They call their detailed theological position 'the Dogma,' but they also claim that this position has been taught by the Church under the Ordinary Magisterium, and that therefore the faithful are required to give their religious submission of will and intellect to this theological position.
The term 'fifth and final dogma' has four words, and only the second word is not a serious theological error. The idea that this 'dogma' is fifth errs grievously by implicitly suggesting to the faithful that they ought not to believe any other dogmas about Mary than those five. The term final errs by taking an idea from claimed private revelation and incorporating it into the terminology of an idea that is claimed to be dogmatic. And the last term, dogma, is the most offensive of all, since it labels an idea that is mostly speculative in nature as if it were already a Dogma of the Church, usurping the authority of the Magisterium to define dogma, and giving obedience to the messages of the claimed private revelations of Ida Peerdeman.
The terms 'fifth,' 'final,' and 'dogma' are unsupportable. Yet this is the label given to this mostly speculative theological position. And millions have learned this idea under these three unsupportable terms.
Vox Populi presents their theological position as if it were one position, even though it is a complex and detailed theological position with many elements. So if anyone uses the term Mediatrix, they count this as supporting their entire theological position. Or of anyone uses the term Redemptrix, again, they count this as supporting their entire position. But worse is their use of the term 'the Dogma' to apply to their entire theological position in all its specifics. They believe that if the Pope were to proclaim these titles, that such a proclamation would affirm their entire theological position in all its details. So the term 'dogma' to them is not whatever the Pope might define in the future, but their entire theological position, in every detail, presented as if it were one unified concept.
Calling a complex and detailed theological position, which certainly includes many speculative elements as well as elements solely from claimed private revelation, 'the Dogma' and continually speaking about it as if it was already, or as if it certainly is, and without a doubt one day will be, a Dogma is a very grave theological error. The sole reason that Vox Populi and its supporters have insisted on calling this a dogma, and that they are so certain it will be declared dogmatically, is that the claimed private revelation to Ida Peerdeman says so. The Magisterium never permits any theologian to claim that an idea is a dogma, or will certainly be a dogma, in advance of an infallible teaching by the Magisterium. But they are following Ida Peerdeman, instead of the Magisterium.
- Not Yet A Teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium
Despite the constant use of the term 'dogma' to refer to this theological position, Dr. Mark Miravalle and other supporting theologians also state that this idea is the ordinary teaching of the Magisterium. They never distinguish between elements which are speculative, elements which come solely from claimed private revelation, and those few points of doctrine which actually have been taught by the Magisterium. Instead, they cite points taught by a Pope, or even the mere use of a title similar to the ones they suggest, and on that basis they claim that their entire theological position (including numerous elements never taught by the Magisterium) is already the teaching of the Church.
But there is more.
Dr. Mark Miravalle has written that, since this theological position is the teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium, the faithful are required to believe it with the religious submission of will and intellect. He even cites Lumen Gentium, n. 25 in this regard. (See quote 7 above. Miravalle also makes the same point here:
There is no distinction in this claim (which equates the Vox Populi position with that of the Ordinary Magisterium) between elements of this idea that actually have been taught by the Ordinary Magisterium, and those that are unique to the Vox Populi position. In effect, they have woven together elements from Church teaching with speculative elements and ideas from claimed private revelation as if this were one comprehensive and unified concept, and then they have stated that the faithful are required to believe this entire position, as if it were all one teaching of the Church.
And then it gets worse.
Dr. Mark Miravalle has told me (see quote 5 above) that he believes that the Ordinary Magisterium is infallible. Fr. William Most (see quote 10 above) has specifically stated that the teaching of Mary as Mediatrix of all graces is already an infallible doctrine, because it has been taught repeatedly by the Ordinary Magisterium. Fr. Most went so far as to say that no Ecumenical Council can overrule or contradict this doctrine, because the Ordinary Magisterium has taught it repeatedly.
They view this idea as not at all speculative, as if it were already fixed in one theological position definitively to be held, because they believe that it has already been taught infallibly under the Ordinary Magisterium (not the ordinary and universal Magisterium). Therefore, they do not enter into dialogue as to how this mostly speculative idea might be improved, or as to whether or not any elements in the idea might be erroneous. To them: their theological position is the teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium, and the teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium is infallible, and it not a question of if the Dogma will be proclaimed, but when the Dogma will be proclaimed, according to them.
As a result, this idea, which certainly does have core elements of truth, has stagnated. Any theologian who expresses a different position, (even one which still views Mary as co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocatrix) is met with a mere repetition of the same 'dogmatic' doctrine, in the same wording, presented as if it were irreformable. Vox Populi has the attitude of a group teaching dogma, not the attitude of a group seeking possible new insights into the Sacred Deposit of Faith.
As to Mary's role as co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocatrix, in my opinion this true teaching has not yet been taught, as one unified concept and with a specific definition, under even the Ordinary Magisterium. There are some elements of this idea which have been taught under the Ordinary Magisterium. But most of what is presented by various theologians and members of the faithful, and by Vox Populi specifically, is a diverse set of ideas and assertions which include many speculative elements as well as ideas found solely in claimed private revelation.
Finally, these claims (that this mostly speculative idea is the fifth, is the final, and is or will certainly be a dogma) are an integral part of the Vox Populi theological position. One can hardly find any article or book or website on this topic which does not assert that it is the final Marian dogma. Often such assertions are given in apocalyptic terms. And yet there is no support for this idea, that it is the fifth and final Marian dogma, in Tradition, Scripture, or Magisterium at all, neither explicitly not implicitly. And none of their theologians or supporters even attempt to say that this point is based on the Deposit of Faith. The only source on this point is the claimed private revelation of Ida Peerdeman. Dr. Mark Miravalle and his organization have woven this and other ideas taken solely from claimed private revelation into an extensive and specific theological position which they frequently refer to as 'the fifth and final Marian Dogma.'
The potential harm that can be done to the faithful by these serious errors is immense.
by Ronald L. Conte Jr.
October 26, 2006