Titles Associated with Mary
There are many titles associated with the Virgin Mary that have sometimes been used within the Catholic context as a way of understanding Mary. These terms are not considered formal dogma, but are suggestive of the unique nature of Mary's role in the world.
None of these terms are used universally, and they can be confusing when taken out of context. While some Catholics have pushed for these terms to be used more, or even to be proclaimed as dogma, there are still others who warn that terms like Mediatrix and Coredemptrix are likely to cause unnecessary confusion and should only be used with great caution, if at all.
One of the most ancient of these terms is
It has been said that Mary is the Mediatrix because it was through her very body that the savior entered the world — in this way, she played an active, mediating role in the drama of redemption.
Applying the title Mediatrix to the Virgin Mary has been a source of controversy because, according to Scripture, there is only “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Many people feel that it is scandalous to confer a title on the Virgin Mary that seems to be reserved for Christ alone.
Those in the Roman Catholic Church who support the use of this title for the Virgin Mary feel that it is useful because it demonstrates the Virgin Mary's role, as she intercedes on behalf of humanity before the face of God. Some have even said that at the wedding at Cana when she pleaded with her son to turn water into wine, she was serving as a Mediatrix. This belief is expressed by Dwight Longenecker in the book he coauthored with David Gustafson, called
As Christians pray before God for others and seek to bring knowledge of God into the world, they participate in a ministry that is something like Mary's. In this line of reasoning, Mary serves as the ultimate example of a ministry to which all Christians are called.
The title Advocate is closely linked with the title Mediatrix. From a Biblical perspective, Jesus is the Advocate. His role as Advocate, however, does not diminish the idea that all Christians can have a ministry of advocacy.
This term implies that Mary, like a lawyer, stands up for people and makes a defense for them before God. This defense takes the form of fervent prayers. For some, this title is problematic because it hints of the notion that the Virgin Mary is compassionate while Jesus is merely a judge. Certainly, a balanced Biblical view of Jesus would see him as both compassionate advocate and judge, while Mary is never associated with judgment.
Many Christians believe that Mary's openness and obedience to God continues, and that her participation in the salvation of the world is ongoing. Some interpret her apparitions as an expression of her continual desire to convince lost sheep of the importance of Jesus' message and to make her son known in this world.
From Title to Dogma
Some Catholics would like the titles of
There are many, however, who don't want these titles to become dogma. In particular, Pope Benedict is opposed to Coredemptrix because he feels that it has the potential to create unnecessary confusion. These disagreements highlight the sometimes delicate process of articulating Christian teaching, as theologians attempt to bring clarity without confusion and fullness without excess in the Catholic Church.