3 Popes Who Have Loved Our Lady

Father Salvatore Perrella on the Mariology of Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI

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By Antonio Gaspari

ROME, SEPT. 11, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The pontificates of Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and the Church's study of Mary during the Second Vatican Council, have brought about a renewed and reinvigorated Mariology in our times, says the president of the Marianum Pontifical Theological Faculty.

Father Salvatore Perrella addressed the 23rd International Marian Mariological Congress, held last week, presenting the personal contribution that the Bishops of Rome have made to the deepening of the Marian doctrine of Vatican II, promulgated particularly in Chapter 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium.

According to Father Perrella, “The Council chose Mary as collaborator, Mother to the messianic work of the Son and her subordinate but effective salvific function” because “Mary’s living of the faith is singular and intimately related to the uniqueness of the mystery of Christ, she has a particular form of being in Christ, because of this Mary is Mother of the Church.”

The Council wished to stress that Mary is never an alternative to Christ; that devotion to Mary is integrated in the vision of faith that means recognizing the singularity of her role and of her way of being with Jesus Christ.

Counting the Marian documents, interventions, and messages published by the Pontiffs there is considerable growth. There were 25 written by Pius IX, 56 by Leo XIII, 37 by Pius X, 30 by Benedict XV, 309 by Pius XI, 470 by Pius XII, 501 by John XXIII, 315 by Paul VI, and 1,600 by John Paul II.

In the course of the closing address of Vatican II, Paul VI said on Nov. 21, 1964: “It is the first time that a Council presents such a vast synthesis of Catholic doctrine on the place that Mary Most Holy occupies in the mystery of Christ and of the Church.”

“Knowledge of true Catholic doctrine on Mary, will always constitute a key for the exact understanding of the mystery of Christ and of the Church,” he added.

In the Apostolic Exhortation Signum magnum, Paul VI said that piety towards Mary is, for the Church, “an indisputable and unbreakable duty to the Mother of the Son of God.”

“It is an altogether singular devotion, required and founded on her theological prerogatives, attested by biblical texts, by the holy Fathers and by Lumen Gentium by which the Virgin is honored with special devotion, especially liturgical,” said the Pontiff.

In regard to Blessed Pope John Paul II, Father Perrella said he was the doctor Marianus of our time because “in his intense and noteable teaching the Virgin was one of the most recurring and loved topics.”

The then cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, today Pope Benedict XVI, stressed that “in the Mother of the Redeemer and in Mariology itself all the topics of the faith are found.”

In conclusion, the president of the Marianum said that the years of the pontificates of Paul VI, of John Paul II and now of Benedict XVI, and, in a particular way, in guiding the doctrine of chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium, the Church with her teaching and theology have “re-motivated and renewed Mariology in a convincing way.”

For Father Perrella, “Chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium has integrated Mary of Nazareth in the mystery of the Trinitarian God of Christ beginning with the Word of faith taking into due account the living Tradition of the Church, being careful to propose a doctrine that does not make dissension grow but inspires consensus and fraternal dialogue, in charity and truth, between the Church, Churches and the Christian confessions.”

The president of the Marianum confirmed that Mary has been present since the beginning of Christianity because of her person and her role and significance for the faith and for the life of faith, she has “become an indelible part of the ecclesial event, as the 2,000-year history of Christianity demonstrates read and interpreted on the important deposit of culture.”

Father Perrella concluded by stressing “may the Virgin Mary influence culture, modifying, purifying and enriching it.”