The Mystery of Mary Coredemptrix
in the Papal Magisterium
by Arthur Burton Calkins
In the course of almost two hundred years the papal Magisterium has provided ever clearer indications about Our Lady's intimate collaboration in the work of our redemption. In an earlier essay I outlined some major contributions of our present Holy Father in this regard. In his general audience address of 25 October 1995 he contributed a masterful preamble on the development of this important point of doctrine. In broad strokes it sketches the historical unfolding of this doctrine in a remarkably succinct way:
As the Holy Father, then, has already traced the high points of this theme in its theological development, I will attempt to indicate the major developments of this subject in the papal magisterium itself. Following the slow course of this theological development, the specific focus of the papal magisterium on Mary's collaboration in the work of the redemption is a relatively recent one. Only after pondering over this mystery at length, like Mary herself,does the Church begin to teach about it in a more solemn way.
A. Modern Period: 1740 to Present
It would, no doubt, be highly instructive and interesting to search out the first adumbrations of the doctrine of Marian mediation in the teaching of the popes in the earlier periods of the Church's life, but we must leave this to other researchers.  According to widely accepted convention, the modern period of the codification of the papal magisterium begins with the pontificate of Benedict XIV (1740-1758) while a further notable concentration and consolidation of Marian doctrine begins with the pontificate of Blessed Pius IX (1846-1878). It is precisely this modern period of the papal Magisterium that we intend to study here.
B. Intimate Connection between Coredemption and Mediation
Finally, we must clarify one further point before we begin to analyze the papal texts themselves. From at least the beginning of the twentieth century authors have consistently treated Marian coredemption and mediation together under the general title of "mediation".  The founder of the Marianum, the Roman theological faculty specializing in the study of Mariology, Father Gabriele M. Roschini, O.S.M., for instance, stated that some Mariologists restrict the title of "Mediatrix" to the second phase of mediation (to the cooperation of Mary in the distribution of grace), reserving the title "Coredemptrix" to the first phase, but even this first phase, he argues, is a true and proper mediation since it is a participation in the mediatorial work of Christ.  This follows logically from the fact that both of these phases may be seen as subdivisions of the broad category of "Marian mediation" or what the late Father Giuseppe Besutti had consistently described in his Bibliografia Mariana since 1968 as "Mary in salvation history [historia salutis]".  These two phases of the redemption are often differentiated as "objective" and "subjective", as well as by other distinctions.  Indeed, many of the pontifical documents which we will examine clearly teach that Our Lady's cooperation in the distribution of grace flows directly from her coredemptive role.  For this reason we will find that not a few of the papal texts which we will cite in support of Marian coredemption may also be justly cited in support of Mary's role in the distribution of the graces of the redemption.
II. A Matter of Terminology
The term Coredemptrix usually requires some initial explanation in the English language because often the prefix "co" immediately conjures up visions of complete equality. For instance a co-signer of a check or a co-owner of a house is considered a co-equal with the other signer or owner. Thus the first fear of many is that describing Our Lady as Coredemptrix puts her on the same level as her Divine Son and implies that she is "Redeemer" in the same way that he is, thus reducing Jesus "to being half of a team of redeemers".  In the Latin language from which the term Coredemptrix comes, however, the meaning is always that Mary's cooperation or collaboration in the redemption is secondary, subordinate, dependent on that of Christ -- and yet for all that -- something that God "freely wished to accept ... as constituting an unneeded, but yet wonderfully pleasing part of that one great price"  paid by His Son for world's redemption. As Mark Miravalle points out:
While one might argue about the use of the term Coredemptrix  because of the possible confusion which might result from it and propose Pius XII's term of predilection, alma socia Christi (beloved associate of Christ),  it is equally arguable that there is no other word which places the participation of the Mother of God in our redemption in such sharp and bold relief.  Furthermore, as we shall see, it has been hallowed by use, especially by magisterial use both in the past and in the present.
A. First Uses in the Magisterium
The word "Coredemptrix" makes its preliminary appearance on the magisterial level by means of official pronouncements of Roman Congregations during the reign of Pope Saint Pius X (1903-1914) and then enters into the papal vocabulary.
1. The term first occurs in the Acta Apostolicæ Sedis in a response to a request made by Father Giuseppe M. Lucchesi, Prior General of the Servites (1907-1913), requesting the elevation of the rank of the feast of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady to a double of the second class for the entire Church. The Sacred Congregation of Rites, in acceding to the request, expressed the desire that thus "the cultus of the Sorrowful Mother may increase and the piety of the faithful and their gratitude toward the merciful Coredemptrix of the human race may intensify". 
2. Five years later the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office in a decree signed by Cardinal Mariano Rampolla expressed its satisfaction with the practice of adding to the name of Jesus that of Mary in the greeting "Praised be Jesus and Mary" to which one responds "Now and forever":
3. Barely six months after this declaration, on 22 January 1914, the same Congregation granted a partial indulgence of 100 days for the recitation of a prayer of reparation to Our Lady beginning with the Italian words Vergine benedetta. Here is the portion of that prayer which bears on our argument:
On the basis of these last two instances Monsignor Brunero Gherardini comments that
4. The first papal usage of the term occurs in an allocution by Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) to pilgrims from Vicenza on 30 November 1933:
5. On 23 March 1934, the Lenten commemoration of Our Lady of Sorrows, Pius XI received two groups of Spanish pilgrims, one of which was composed of members of Marian Congregations of Catalonia. L'Osservatore Romano did not publish the text of the Pope's address, but rather reported his principal remarks to these groups. Noting with pleasure the Marian banners carried by these pilgrims, he commented that they had come to Rome to celebrate with the Vicar of Christ
He continued, addressing himself especially to the young people, saying that they must:
6. Finally Pope Pius XI referred to Our Lady as Coredemptrix on 28 April 1935 in a Radio Message for the closing of the Holy Year at Lourdes:
Because of this usage of the term Coredemptrix in magisterial documents and addresses by the Supreme Pontiff Canon René Laurentin wrote thus in 1951 about its employment:
Since that rather nuanced statement the well known French scholar has long since altered his position, saying that
Nonetheless, we believe that his earlier defense of the legitimacy of the term may stand on its own. We shall subsequently note that the term has been retained by the papal magisterium.
B. The Second Vatican Council
A further argument brought up against the use of this term is that it was specifically avoided by the Second Vatican Council. While this statement is true, it requires a number of clarifications. First, it must be remembered that the Council was convoked just at a time when Marian doctrine and piety had reached an apex  which had been building on a popular level since the apparition of Our Lady to Saint Catherine Labouré in 1830  and on the magisterial level since the time of the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 1854.  This Marian orientation had accelerated notably during the nineteen-year reign of the Servant of God Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) with the Consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on 31 October 1942,  the dogmatic definition of the Assumption of Our Lady on 1 November 1950,  the establishment of the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1944  and of the Queenship of Mary in the Marian Year of 1954. 
Secondly, and as a consequence of this comprehensive "Marian movement", much study, discussion and debate had been devoted to Mary's role in salvation history, specifically to the topics of coredemption and mediation.  While there had been vigorous disputation regarding Mary's active collaboration in the work of our redemption during the reign of Pope Pius XII, by the the time of the International Mariological Congress in Lourdes in 1958 there was a fairly unanimous consensus regarding Our Lady's true cooperation in acquiring the universal grace of redemption.  Not surprisingly, then, a good number of bishops entered the Council with the desire to see a comprehensive treatment of these questions. Father Michael O'Carroll, C.S.Sp. informs us that of the 54 bishops at the Council who wanted a conciliar pronouncement on Mary as Coredemptrix, 36 sought a definition and 11 a dogma of faith on this matter.  On the related question of Mary's mediation, he tells us that 362 bishops desired a conciliar statement on Mary's mediation while 266 of them asked for a dogmatic definition.  Father Besutti, on the other hand, holds that over 500 bishops were asking for such a definition.  A fundamental reason why no such definition emanated from the Council was the expressed will of Blessed Pope John XXIII that the Council was to be primarily pastoral in its orientation, specifically excluding any new dogmatic definitions. 
Thirdly, at the very same time another current was entering into the mainstream of Catholic life, that of "ecumenical sensitivity". While Father Besutti confirms that the word "Coredemptrix" did appear in the original schema of the Marian document prepared in advance for the Council,  the Prænotanda to the first conciliar draft document or schema on Our Lady contained these words:
This original prohibition was rigorously respected and hence the term "Coredemptrix" was not used in any of the official documents promulgated by the Council and, undeniably, "ecumenical sensitivity" was a prime factor in its avoidance  along with a distaste for the general language of mediation on the part of more progressive theologians.  We remain free to debate about the wisdom and effectiveness of such a strategy. 
C. Lumen Gentium Chapter 8
Given these disparate currents present on the floor of the Council, one might have expected a doctrinal minimalism to prevail on the entire question of Marian coredemption/mediation. While the climate at the Second Vatican Council was not auspicious for its full assimilation, solid groundwork was laid, especially with regard to the topic of Marian coredemption or Mary's collaboration in the work of the redemption. Here is how Pope John Paul II summarized the matter in his general audience of 13 December 1995:
This is an astute observation made by one who has continued to meditate on and develop these very themes. To my knowledge, it is the first official public acknowledgement on the part of a Pope of the currents at the Council which shaped the writing of chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium. It also makes graceful and unprejudiced reference to the Fathers who "wished further to enrich Marian doctrine with other statements on Mary's role in the work of salvation."
While the term "Coredemptrix" does not occur anywhere in the Council documents, it must be recognized that the concept was nonetheless conveyed. In fact, the Council taught much more clearly and coherently about Mary's coredemptive role than about her role in the distribution of grace, even if the word "Mediatrix" was used once in #62. Thus Lumen Gentium #56 speaks forthrightly of Mary's collaboration in the work of redemption:
In the same paragraph there is further specification about the active nature of Mary's service:
Quite clearly, then, the Council Fathers speak of an active collaboration of Mary in the work of the redemption and they illustrate this with the Eve/Mary parallel, found already in the writings of the sub-Apostolic Fathers, Saint Justin Martyr (+165), Irenaeus (+ after 193) and Tertullian (+ 220). 
Further, the Council Fathers move on from the establishment of the general principal of Mary's collaboration in the work of the redemption to underscore the personal nature of the "union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation" [Matris cum Filio in opere salutari coniunctio] throughout Jesus' hidden life (#57) and public life (#58). Finally, in #58 they stress how she
Not only, then, does the Council teach that was Mary generally associated with Jesus in the work of redemption throughout his life, but that she associated herself with his sacrifice and consented to it. Furthermore, the Council Fathers state in #61 that Mary
Not only did Mary consent to the sacrifice, but she also united herself to it. In these final two statements we find a synthesis of the previous papal teaching on the coredemption as well as a stable point of reference for the teaching of the postconciliar Popes.
Monsignor Brunero Gherardini points out that, with or without the use of the term Coredemptrix, the Protestant observers recognized just as readily the Catholic position on Mary's participation in the redemption. They see any human participation in the work of man's salvation, however secondary and subordinate, as contrary to Luther's principle of solus Christus and thus "a robbery from God and from Christ".  Hence in elaborating the magisterial teaching on Mary's collaboration in the redemption, we are dealing with more than just the possible justification of the term Coredemptrix, but a fundamental datum of Catholic theology, a matter which will not be facilely dealt with in ecumenical dialogue by simply substituting one word or phrase with another which seems more neutral.
D. Usage of the Term by John Paul II
Given this recent history, it is of no little significance that without fanfare, but quite publicly, John Paul II has rehabilitated the word Coredemptrix and has used it or a cognate form at least six times in published statements, not to mention his far more numerous references to the concept which this term represents. Let us quickly review his usage of Coredemptrix. 
1. In his greetings to the sick after the general audience of 8 September 1982 the Pope said:
2. On the Feast of his patron saint, Charles Borromeo, in 1984 the Pope offered these thoughts in his Angelus address in Arona:
3. On 31 January 1985, in an address at the Marian shrine in Guayaquil, Ecuador, he spoke thus:
In the above text we have a fine illustration of the various ways in which Mary's collaboration in the redemption is described by the Pope, culminating in his reference to her "role as Coredemptrix". It should be noted that he presents Mary's coredemptive role here with reference to Paul's statement, "I have been crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20) and also with reference to the mystery of her Heart.
4. On 31 March 1985, Palm Sunday and World Youth Day, the Pope spoke in this vein about Mary's immersion in the mystery of Christ's Passion:
5. On 24 March 1990 the Holy Father addressed volunteer participants in the pilgrimage of the Federated Alliance of Transportation of the Sick to Lourdes (OFTAL) as well as the sick to whom they minister with these words:
6. Likewise in commemorating the sixth centenary of the canonization of St. Bridget of Sweden on 6 October 1991 he said:
In a completely natural way and without calling undue attention to his use of the word Coredemptrix, the Pontiff has simply resumed the use of terminology which has been employed in the liturgy and by theologians since the late Middle Ages and which was also utilized by the magisterium earlier in this century, and specifically by Pope Pius XI, as we have already seen.
Pope John Paul II has also used the word "coredeemer" or "coredemption" at least three times in speaking of the on-going collaboration of Christians in the work of Redemption. Traditionally, theologians have distinguished between Mary's unique collaboration in the redemption as it was taking place in actu primo from the application of the graces of the redemption to individual persons which takes place in actu secundo. Redemption in actu primo or "objective redemption" or the ascending phase of redemption may be defined as the acquisition of universal salvation by means of the sacrifice willed by God to reconcile the world to himself. Redemption in actu secundo or "subjective redemption" or the descending phase of redemption or the mediation of grace may be defined as the application of the fruits of the redemption to particular individuals by means of the mediation willed by God.  It has been consistently held that Our Lady participates in both of these phases of the work of redemption while all other Christians can participate in the application of the graces of redemption to specific persons and situations. Hence we can all be coredeemers in actu secundo. Here is how the Holy Father illustrated these distinctions in his general audience address of 9 April 1997 without employing the classical technical terminology we used above:
Now let us briefly review the Holy Father's use of the word "coredeemer" and "coredemption" as it applies to all Christians.
1. In addressing the sick at the Hospital of the Brothers of St. John of God (Fatebenefratelli) on Rome's Tiber Island on 5 April 1981, he asked:
2. On 13 January 1982 the Pope addressed himself thus to the sick after giving his general audience address:
It should be pointed out that this is a constantly recurring theme in the pastoral discourses of Pope John Paul II, a theme which he treated with remarkable depth and insight in his Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris of 11 February 1984 in which he expounds at length on Marian coredemption in actu primo and in Christian coredemption in actu secundo without using the words "Coredemptrix", "coredemption" or "coredeemer".
3. On 8 May 1988 the Holy Father addressed these significant words about candidates for the priesthood to the Bishops of Uruguay who had assembled at the Apostolic Nunciature in Montevideo:
Despite all of the facts which I have carefully outlined above, there has been what seems a carefully orchestrated chorus stating that none of these instances are of any theological value.
First of all there was the "Declaration of the Theological Commission of the Pontifical International Marian Academy" made in Czestochowa, Poland in August of 1996 made by an "ad hoc" commission composed of 18 Catholics, 3 Orthodox, an Anglican and a Lutheran and released by L'Osservatore Romano on 4 June 1997. Dealing with the titles Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate, it states:
From what I have already stated and documented, it is apparent that this declaration is not above criticism for the way it attempts to deal with facts and that it has no magisterial value. It dismisses the use of the term by Pope John Paul II as not occurring in significant magisterial documents.
Together with the declaration in L'Osservatore Romano two commentaries appeared in the same edition: one unsigned with the title "A new Marian dogma?"  and the other under the signature of Salvatore M. Perrella, O.S.M. entitled "Mary's co-operation in the work of Redemption: Present state of the question".  The unsigned commentary offers a further specification with regard to the usage of this term by the present Pontiff:
In the light of these statements we must ask: What is the doctrinal value of Pope John Paul II's usages of the term "Coredemptrix" and "coredemption"? I would certainly not argue that his use of the word Coredemptrix occurs in papal documents of the highest teaching authority or that he has proclaimed the doctrine or used the word in the most solemn manner. I do believe, however, that the instances of his use of the term Coredemptrix to characterize Our Lady's collaboration in the work of our redemption -- especially in the light of previous magisterial usage -- do not deserve to be cavalierly dismissed as "marginal [and] therefore devoid of doctrinal weight".  While it is true that five usages of the term may be regarded as passing references, I do not believe that they deserve to be ignored. The instance of 31 January 1985 at Guayaquil, however, constitutes a very significant commentary on the meaning of Marian coredemption and deserves to be pondered very carefully. At the conclusion of this essay it will be possible to make a more comprehensive analysis of the doctrinal weight of the collective papal teaching on the entire question.
A final terminological question: How does one explain the Pope's refraining from the use of the words "Coredemptrix", "coredemption" and "coredeemer" since 1991? Here I am pleased to have recourse to a response given by Father Alessandro Apollonio:
Pope John Paul II has, in fact, done much more than simply to rehabilitate the use of a word and show that it has a legitimate use. He has made another gracious gesture in the direction of those "many Fathers [of the Second Vatican Council who] wished further to enrich Marian doctrine with other statements on Mary's role in the work of salvation,"  even as he did in re-proposing the discussion of Marian mediation in his Encyclical Redemptoris Mater  after it had largely passed out of theological circulation.  He has shown once again that the magisterium is above mere "theological correctness" and is conscious of continuity with the Tradition. Further, he continues to draw out the manifold aspects of Mary's coredemptive role, as we shall see.
III. Mary's Collaboration in the Work of the Redemption
Now it remains to indicate the consistent perspective of the papal magisterium on Mary's coredemptive role, a matter far greater than the mere use of the term Coredemptrix. While it would prolong our study unduly to cite every papal text available on this vast topic, I nonetheless intend to illustrate each of the major points with representative passages from the various pontificates. In doing so, I shall strive to follow the basic orientation which we have already noted in chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium, which also follows the historical order indicated by Pope John Paul II in his general audience address of 25 October 1995  i.e., first establishing Mary's collaboration in the work of redemption as the "New Eve" and "Associate of the Redeemer" and then treating her active participation in the offering of the sacrifice of our redemption. It will be immediately apparent, however, that any given text cited will often fit into more than one category.
A. The "New Eve" -- Associate of the "New Adam"
We have already noted above the Holy Father's reference to St. Irenaeus's teaching about Mary as the "New Eve" in his catechesis of 25 October 1995. Indeed, St. Justin Martyr (+ 165), St. Irenaeus (+ after 193) and Tertullian (+ after 220), all of whom belong to the sub-Apostolic period, signalled the parallelism and contrast between Mary and Eve. This fascinating parallelism, never absent from the Church's liturgy  and magisterium , was highlighted in Lumen Gentium #56 and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church #411. This theme sheds notable light on Mary's role in our redemption and has been amply illustrated by the papal magisterium in modern times. Here is an instance which comes from the teaching of Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922). In his homily of 13 May 1920 for the canonization of St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque he declared:
Pope Pius XII took up the theme on a number of occasions. Here is an excerpt from his allocution to pilgrims from Genoa of 22 April 1940:
In his Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis of 29 June 1943 he describes Mary as "like a new Eve"  and in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus of 1 November 1950, by which he solemnly defined the dogma of Mary's assumption into heaven, he draws our attention to the antiquity of this theme:
As Eve was subject to Adam, the Pontiff underscores, so is the new Eve to the new Adam. Nevertheless, he continues, she is "most intimately associated with Him in that struggle against the infernal foe which ... would finally result in that most complete victory over sin and death". Thus he keeps in balance the Catholic truth which both recognizes Jesus as the only Redeemer and Mary as subordinate and yet "most intimately associated with Him" in the work of redemption.
In his Encyclical Letter Ad Cæli Reginam of 11 October 1954 Pius XII continued to enlarge upon this analogy between Eve and Mary, calling upon the testimony of Saint Irenaeus:
In his Professio Fidei or "Credo of the People of God" of 30 June 1968, Pope Paul VI united the closely related themes of "Associate of the Redeemer" and "New Eve" in formulating the Church's belief in the Virgin Mary:
This article is truly a masterpiece in synthesizing the principal Marian dogmas i.e., that Mary is Mother of God, ever-Virgin, conceived immaculate, assumed into heaven, while at the same time underscoring her spiritual maternity, and her coredemptive and mediatory roles.
Finally, let us note a graceful allusion which Paul VI made to the "New Eve" theme in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus of 2 February 1974, stating that: "Mary, the New Woman, stands at the side of Christ, the New Man, within whose mystery the mystery of man alone finds true light."
Virtually inseparable from the concept of Mary as "New Eve" is that of her intimate association with the life, suffering and death of Christ. Hence describing her as associate or companion of the Redeemer [socia Redemptoris]  has become another way of recognizing her unique active role in the Redemption. The first explicit use of this terminology with regard to Mary occurs in the writings of Ambrose Autpert (+784), but he uses the verbal form sociata to express the idea. "As present knowledge goes, it is Ekbert of Schönau (+1184) who first uses the noun socia of Mary." 
Blessed Pius IX (1846-1878) in his Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December 1854 enunciated a principle of capital importance for Mariology, which had long been held by the Franciscan school of theology, namely that "God, by one and the same decree, had established the origin of Mary and the Incarnation of Divine Wisdom." On the basis of this principle, frequently confirmed by the magisterium,  Mary's intimate association with Jesus as the "New Eve" in the work of the redemption is axiomatic and, thus, Pius IX declares in the same Apostolic Constitution:
Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) in his rosary encyclical of 1 September 1883, Supremi Apostolatus, argues on the same basis that Mary is the "associate with Jesus in the work of man's salvation" [servandi hominum generis consors]:
This brief text which speaks so clearly of Mary as the Associate of Christ in the work of our salvation, also lays the foundation for her mediation. He develops exactly the same line of argumentation in his rosary encyclical of 5 September 1895, Adiutricem Populi, literally calling Mary the "minister for effecting the mystery of human redemption" [sacramenti humanæ redemptionis patrandi administra] and thus emphasizing her role as Coredemptrix in the past and Mediatrix in the present:
Finally, in his Apostolic Constitution Ubi primum of 2 October 1898 he states that Mary was "the cooperatrix in man's Redemption and always the chief and sovereign refuge of Catholics in the trials they underwent." 
Pope Saint Pius X (1903-1914), in his Encyclical Letter Ad Diem Illum of 2 February 1904, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception, refers to Mary as "Jesus' constant companion" [assidua comes] in asking this question:
In the same encyclical the saint goes on to refer to Mary as "a partaker in the sufferings of Christ and the associate in His Passion" [particeps passionum Christi sociaque].
Following the line of thought developed by Blessed Pius IX and Leo XIII, Pius XI presents Mary's Immaculate Conception as a necessary preparation for her role as "associate in the redemption of mankind" [generis humani consors] in his Letter of 28 January 1933 Auspicatus profecto to Cardinal Binet:
During his pontificate the Servant of God Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) would show particular favor to describing Mary as the beloved associate of Christ [alma socia Christi].  In his Radio Message to Fatima of 13 May 1946 he used the verbal form to describe Mary's intimate collaboration in the redemption:
In the above text we once again notice the accustomed linkage of coredemption with mediation in papal teaching.
In his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus of 1 November 1950, by which he declared Mary's assumption into a heaven a dogma of the faith, Pius referred to her as "the noble associate of the divine Redeemer" [generosa Divini Redemptoris socia].  He would underscore this association also in his Encyclical on the Queenship of Mary, Ad Cæli Reginam of 11 October 1954, explaining that "in this work of Redemption the Blessed Virgin Mary was closely associated with Christ," that she is "His associate in the work of redemption"  and then quoting from Francisco Suarez to the effect that
Finally, in his great Encyclical Letter on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Haurietis Aquas of 15 May 1956, he described Mary as "His [our Redeemer's] associate in recalling the children of Eve to the life of divine grace".
Blessed John XXIII (1958-1963) made two allusions to Our Lady as associated with the work of redemption. In a Radio Message to the faithful of Ecuador, he referred to Mary as "She who, in her earthly life, was so intimately associated in the work of Christ"  and on 9 December 1962 at the canonization of Peter Julian Eymard, Anthony Pucci and Francesco da Camporosso he stated:
The Servant of God Pope Paul VI (1963-1978), in the course of his pontificate, followed closely the lines developed in the eighth chapter of Lumen Gentium. In his major address at the conclusion of the third session of the Second Vatican Council, the one in which he declared Mary Mother of the Church and entrusted the Church to her once again,  he said:
He spoke similarly of Mary in his Apostolic Exhortation Signum Magnum of 13 May 1967, calling her "the Mother of Christ and His most intimate associate" and "the cooperator of the Son in the work of restoration of supernatural life in souls"  Likewise in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus of 2 February 1974 he spoke of Mary as "the associate of the Redeemer"  and "Mother and associate of the Savior".
In his message to the Bishops and people of Chile of 24 November 1974, Paul VI characterized Mary as "associated mysteriously and for ever with the work of Christ".  But perhaps his most original use of the term was in his Letter of 13 May 1975, E' con sentimenti, to Cardinal Leo Jozef Suenens on the occasion of the 14th International Marian Congress. In that letter he stated:
What is of particular interest here is that Paul VI speaks in effect of Mary as the "associate of the Holy Spirit in the work of human salvation". While he is careful to justify his statement theologically, he nonetheless introduces here a new nuance in conceptualizing Mary's unique collaboration in the work of salvation.
Pope John Paul has continued in the line of his predecessors to highlight Mary's role as the "New Eve" and "Associate of the Redeemer". In a notable general audience address given on 4 May 1983 the Holy Father spoke thus with an emphasis on the concept of "Associate":
Let us now consider some more recent instances in which he underscores Mary in particular as the "New Eve". Here is an exposition from his catechesis of 15 October 1997:
He further speaks of Mary as the "new woman desired by God to atone for Eve's fall". He says that
Again he tells us that
As Eve was given to Adam as his helpmate (cf. Gen. 2:18-20), so the Pope tells us
In teaching about Mary's glorious Assumption into heaven, the Pope further specifies that, while we may speak of Jesus and Mary as "a couple, a new pair", we must also recognize that there is an important difference as well.
Classical mariology has long known and taught that there is an analogy, a certain "likeness in difference" between Christ and Mary, a certain symmetry and complementarity, though not identity, between them.  This principle of analogy is very germane to the topic under discussion and, indeed, the entire discourse on Mary's role in the work of our redemption cannot be understood without it. Thus in the above catechesis the Holy Father is careful to underscore and illustrate this principle. He does so as well as in the following catechesis in which he treats of the Kingship of Christ and the Queenship of Mary:
Let us note well the "likeness in difference": Christ is King because (1) he is Son of God and (2) because he is Redeemer; Mary is Queen because (1) she is Mother of God and (2) because she cooperated in the work of the redemption.
IV. Mary's active participation in the sacrifice of Calvary
Now we move on to consider the apex of Our Lady's coredemptive activity, her participation in the Passion and Death of her Son. Pope John Paul II, in the very significant catechesis which he gave on 25 October 1995, provides us a glimpse of the growth of the Church's insight into Mary's active participation in the redemption. He comments that Irenaeus' intuition that Mary "with her 'yes', became 'a cause of salvation' for herself and for all mankind"
Mary's abiding union with Jesus "in every deed, attitude and wish" is a datum that the Church would come to grasp ever more clearly with the passage of time as she continued to ruminate on the person and role of Mary under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. John the Geometer seems to have been the first to have left us written reflections on the inseparable bond between Jesus and Mary in the work of our salvation. He explicitly states that "The Virgin, after giving birth to her Son, was never separated from him in his activity, his dispositions, his will."  This obviously implies Mary's willing assent to (1) the sacrifice of her Son, which also, of necessity, implies (2) the sacrifice of herself in union with him. While in the following subsections, I will make a logical distinction between these two offerings, in reality they were simultaneous and the papal texts which I cite will often treat them so.
A. Her Offering of the Victim
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit the Church came to understand with ever greater conviction that Mary's "fiat" at the moment of the Annunciation blossomed into her "fiat" under the Cross and that her consent to the offering of the sacrifice of her Son constituted on her part a real offering of the sacrifice. Here is a text of capital importance from Leo XIII's Encyclical Letter Jucunda Semper of 8 September 1894 which associates these two "fiats":
What I wish to point out here is that Leo links the two "fiats" by means of Mary's presentation of Jesus in the temple (Lk. 2:22-24), which is seen as an anticipation of his presentation on the Cross. He speaks explicitly of Mary as the one who "generously nurtured the Victim" and who "offered [Him] to Divine Justice".
Pope Saint Pius X follows in the same line, but with even more conciseness, in his Encyclical Letter Ad Diem Illum of 2 February 1904:
While there is no direct reference here to the sacrifice of Abraham (Gen. 22), the language employed suggests a striking parallel. Mary is described here as preparing the divine Victim for sacrifice even as Abraham prepared Isaac. The difference, of course, is that Abraham was spared having to carry through with the sacrifice while Mary was not.
Pope Benedict XV made a very emphatic affirmation about Mary's offering in his Letter Inter Sodalicia of 22 March 1918. He stated that
It should be noted here that Benedict indicates that Mary's presence beneath the Cross of Christ was "not without divine design" [non sine divino consilio], the very same language is reproduced verbatim in Lumen Gentium #58, although with no reference to this text. Seemingly deriving from the principle that "God, by one and the same decree, had established the origin of Mary and the Incarnation of Divine Wisdom,"  Benedict XV holds that God had also predestined Mary's union with her Son in his sacrifice to the extent of making the sacrifice with him quantum ad se pertinebat.
The next papal statement which we consider came ten years after that of Benedict XV and was destined for the universal Church. It occurs at the conclusion of Pope Pius XI's encyclical on reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Miserentissimus Redemptor of 8 May 1928:
Here Pius XI speaks clearly of Mary's offering of Jesus to the Father as a victim. Furthermore, by virtue of her intimate union with Christ and her altogether unique grace, he says that she may rightly be called "Reparatrix". This title had already been attributed to Mary by Blessed Pius IX who called her "Reparatrix of the first parents" in his Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus,  by Leo XIII who cited Saint Tharasius of Constantinople  as his authority for calling her "Reparatrix of the Whole World" in his Encyclical Letter Adiutricem Populi and by Saint Pius X who quoted Eadmer of Canterbury as calling her "the Reparatrix of the lost world" in his Encyclical Letter Ad Diem Illum.  The title is obviously significant in that it speaks, as Pius XI testifies, of Mary's intimate union with Christ and of the reparation which she makes to the Father in union with the Redeemer (Reparator).
Mary's offering of Christ to the Father is given classic expression in Pius XII's Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis of 29 June 1943:
Once again we have a clear affirmation that Mary offered Jesus to the Father. Pius XII adds that Our Lady made this offering "together with the holocaust of her motherly rights and motherly love". Benedict XV in Inter Sodalicia had put it that Mary had "renounced (or abdicated) her motherly rights". The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council effectively echoed him when they stated in Lumen Gentium #58 that Mary "loving consented to the immolation of this victim which was born of her".
Blessed Pope John XXIII developed the theme of Mary's "offering of the Divine Victim" in his Radio Message to Bishops of Italy in Catania on occasion of the 16th National Eucharistic Congress and the Consecration of Italy to the Immaculate Heart of Mary of 13 September 1959:
Here Pope John made an application linking Mary's offering of Jesus to the participation of the faithful in the Mass. This co-offering, of course, does not at all take away from the fact that Jesus himself is the primary priest of the sacrifice. Rather it is an acknowledgement that Mary was the primary co-offerer of the sacrifice along with Jesus himself,  just as all members of the faithful present at Mass are called to be co-offerers of the sacrifice along with the priest who acts in persona Christi. 
In #20 of his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus of 2 February 1974 Pope Paul VI proposed Mary to the faithful as "the Virgin presenting offerings" [Virgo offerens]:
Here I shall limit myself to comments on the Pope's sources. First, he cites the text of Saint Bernard which Pope John Paul II also used in his catechesis on Mary's collaboration in the work of redemption of 25 October 1995.  Secondly, he quotes from the text of Lumen Gentium #58, adding for emphasis that Mary, too, "was offering [the victim] to the eternal Father" and giving as his reference the text of Pius XII in Mystici Corporis. 
Pope John Paul II is the heir of the magisterial teaching of all his predecessors and shows this in an Angelus address of 5 June 1983, the Feast of Corpus Christi:
Let us note that the Pope links Mary's offering of Christ with her offering of herself, as so many of his predecessors have done. Again, this follows from the theology of the Mass: the faithful are called to offer themselves to the Father in union with their offering of Christ.
On 7 December 1983 in his general audience address the Holy Father linked Mary's offering of Christ to her Immaculate Conception:
Hence we can say that, even though on an entirely subordinate level, Mary's offering, like Christ's, is a perfect offering, totally pure. In this she is a model for all the faithful.
On Saint Joseph's Day in 1995 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows in Castelpetroso the Pope made these comments:
Note here the Pope's theological precision: he speaks of Mary offering the Son to the Father, but further qualifies the Son as he "who sacrificed himself for our salvation". Mary's offering of Christ always implies his own offering of himself.
In his Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitæ of 25 March 1995 he links Mary's offering of Jesus to her fiat and to her spiritual maternity:
This passage also subtly evokes the text of Revelation 12:17 which refers to "the rest of the offspring" of "the Woman clothed with the sun" (Rev. 12:1): while Mary gave birth to Jesus in a painless way, her intense sufferings in union with Jesus on Calvary were the birth pangs by which she "begets as her children all those who become [his] disciples".
B. Her Offering of Herself
We have already seen numerous papal texts which speak of Mary offering herself and her sorrows on Calvary to the Eternal Father for our salvation. This is so because distinguishing between Mary's offering of her Son and herself to the Father is a legitimate logical distinction -- and it is certainly made by the magisterium because it involves the offering of two distinct persons, one divine and one human -- but, in fact, it is difficult to separate the one offering from the other. Nonetheless, I believe that there is also particular value in underscoring Mary's offering of herself which became part of the one price of our salvation.
This, in fact, is precisely the point of a text which comes to us from Pope Pius VII (1800-1823):
Leo XIII effectively makes the same point in his Rosary Encyclical Iucunda Semper of 8 September 1894 when he speaks of the mystery of the presentation of the child Jesus in the Temple:
Saint Pius X speaks eloquently in Ad Diem Illum of the "communion of sorrows and of will" shared by Jesus and Mary on Calvary:
We have already considered the famous text of Benedict XV's Inter Sodalicia from the perspective of Mary's offering of Christ, but it behooves us now to examine that text from the perspective of Mary's self-offering and of her "paying the price of mankind's redemption" along with Christ.
Benedict speaks as if our redemption were a joint effort. This, of course, takes nothing away from the fact that Jesus' merits were all-sufficient or that Mary, as a human creature, could never equal her divine Son. Rather he recognizes that Mary's presence on Calvary was "not without divine design" , that it was willed by God as a consequence of his decree predestining Jesus and Mary for the work of salvation. As if by way of commentary, two years later, in his homily at the canonization of St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, he said that "the sufferings of Jesus cannot be separated from the sorrows of Mary" : they can be logically distinguished, but God sees them as one.
Copyright ©; Msgr Arthur Calkins 2002
Version 30th November 2002