Mary As Seen by Orthodox, Protestants, and Catholics

Round Table Reflects on "Mary and the Churches"

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ROME, MAY 15, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Virgin Mary has become more of a link between the Christian Churches than a point of departure, a fact that became the subject of a round table discussion in the Pontifical Marianum Faculty in Rome.



Though Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants believe in Mary, there are differences in devotion. These differences were highlighted at a round table May 14, on "Mary and the Churches," organized by the chair "Woman and Christianity," of the Pontifical "Marianum" Faculty in Rome.

Vladimir Zelinski, member of the Russian Orthodox Church and professor at the University of Florence, referred to Mary as "the only being who is between the created and the uncreated." For the Russian Orthodox, "every prayer to God is also a prayer to Mary," he said.

For Orthodoxy, "Mary is omnipresent in prayer, the liturgy, iconography and above all in the Eucharist: she is always next to her Son," he added.

Giancarlo Bruni, professor of ecumenical Theology of the Pontifical Marianum Faculty, explained that the manifestations of Catholics' relation to Mary varies according to geography and sensibilities.

Although he acknowledged that in the past there were excesses, today "we witness a Mariology of normality: Mary is accepted within the Judeo-Christian experience, which includes the call from on High."

For the Catholic representative, "Mary is the being in whom the Father, through the Son, sole Mediator, continues to console and give grace."

Protestant Pastor Fulvio Ferrario said that in Protestantism, "Mary is important to the degree that she helps to understand better the central character of Jesus Christ, sole Mediator."

Ferrario, a professor at the Waldensian Faculty of Theology (Protestant) said "the fathers of the Reformation, from Luther to Zwingli, wrote many pages on the Virgin Mary, always in a Christological context, namely, so long as the treatise on Mary had some meaning related to Jesus Christ."

"In the Reformation, we accepted the virginity of Mary in the birth of Christ and we consider those called Jesus' brothers as his cousins," he clarified.

"We pray with Mary, as Mary, but not to Mary," Ferrario explained, stressing that for followers of the Reformation there are no mediators between God and humanity, only Jesus Christ.

Cettina Militello, who heads the Chair "Woman and Christianity," stressed the need to "give more space to Mary in the framework of the Chair dedicated to study in-depth the relation between woman and Christianity."