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William H. Sanford wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Why does Catholic doctrine call Mary Co-Redeemer or Co-Savior?

When God says in Acts:

4 10 be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Acts 4:10-12

  • A rather plain and easily unopinionated verse, is it not?


  { Why does Catholic doctrine call Mary Co-Redeemer or Co-Savior when Acts 4 says otherwise? }

Mike replied:

Hi, William —

Good question.

Jesus is the effective means of salvation. (Meaning Jesus packs the punch.)

Mary is the instrumental means of salvation.

She was 100% human and had the same free will that you and I do. This means without Mary's approval to become the God-Bearer, Jesus could never have been born by natural means, as the Eternal Father had wished.

  • Could Jesus have become a man without Mary's help? <Yes.>
  • Would it have been according to the Father's Will? <No.>

We are not saying that Mary is the mother of:

  • the Trinity
  • God the Father, or
  • the Holy Spirit.

Our Blessed Mother did not come before God as a parent comes before (his or her) son in age.

We are, however, saying that Mary is the God bearer of the Second Person of the Trinity, i.e.,
Jesus Christ: True God and True Man. Mothers don't give birth to natures. No. Mothers give birth to people, and Jesus was the Divine Person. To say Jesus was a Human person would be in error according to Catholic teaching.

One of the early Church Fathers, St. Theophilus of Alexandria 385-412 A.D. is quoted as saying:

The prayers of His mother are a pleasure to the Son, because He desires to grant all that is granted on her account, and thus repay her for the favor she gave Him
in giving His Body.

Mary's cooperating with God is similar to our cooperating with God, in bringing all souls into His Church and encouraging them to live a holier life.

When any member of a Christian denomination helps or assists another person in understanding the Gospel, they are cooperating in the redemptive work of Christ; in sharing the Gospel with a stranger, they are an instrumental means of salvation.

Based on what my Protestant colleagues have argued:

  • If Mary is undermining the sole mediation of Jesus Christ, aren't Protestant Christians undermining the sole mediation of Jesus Christ when they help, assist, or bring the Word of God to others who are not familiar with the Gospel?

Thus, we teach Jesus Christ was a Divine Person with two natures, divine and human, that don't conflict with each other. Trying to understand this is a mystery, but nevertheless, a Truth of the Catholic Faith.

Since Apostolic times, the Church has always taught that Mary cooperates in the redemption of mankind.

One last note: In the Church, we make a distinction between :

  1. doctrine that is considered common teaching of the Church and
  2. doctrine that is common teaching of the Church, but has also been solemnly defined. (dogmas)

The first is called doctrine, the latter is called dogma. All dogmas of the Church are doctrines, but not all doctrines of the Church are dogmas.

Two of Our Blessed Mother's titles:

  • Co-Redemptrix, and
  • Mediatrix of Graces

while common teachings of the Church (doctrines), have not yet been defined formally by the Church as dogmas.

Nevertheless, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 892 tell us:

The teaching office (Cross references CCC 85-87, 2032-2040)
892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a "definitive manner," they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful "are to adhere to it with religious assent" (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 25) which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.

Here is a good summary for advanced theology students.

Hope this helps,

Mike Humphrey

Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
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