SOUTH LONDON, England – The fourth International Symposium on the Church’s doctrine concerning Mary as Coredemptrix and Mother of the Living, hosted by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculata was held from August 19-25, 2003 at The Emmaus Centre, West Wickham, Kent, England
The 4th International Symposium on Marian Co-Redemption entitled: "Mary Co-Redemptrix: Mother of the Living" was held August 19-25, 2003 at The Emmaus Centre, West Wickham, Kent, England, featuring 18 impressive Conferences dealing with various aspects of the Church's rich doctrine on Our Lady as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces, and Advocate.
The theme of the Conferences took their inspiration from Pope John Paul II's noting in his address of September 8, 1982:
"Mary conceived without stain of sin, has participated in an admirable way in the sufferings of Her Divine Son to be Co-redemptrix of humanity".
This 4th Symposium featuring speakers from Italy, Switzerland, England, Argentina, and the United States was again sponsored by a new branch of the Franciscan Family, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate founded by Fr. Stefano Mary Manelli, a spiritual son of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, and Fr. Gabriel Mary Pellettieri. On January 1, 1998 the Franciscans of the Immaculate received official recognition from Pope John Paul II as a religious Institute of Pontifical right. Inspired by the charism of St. Maximilian Kolbe's life and teaching, and bearing a profound Marian character stemming from the mystery of the Immaculate Conception, both the Friars and Sisters of the Immaculate take a special "Marian vow of unlimited consecration to the Immaculate" for a fruitful renewal of religious life and missionary apostolate. Already this new offshoot of Franciscanism has attracted many new vocations to the priesthood and religious life and has spread from its mother house in Frigento, Italy (where the International Theological Seminary of the Immaculate Mediatrix is based) to the Philippines, Brazil, Nigeria, Australia, and the United States (inquiries concerning this new and thriving Pontifical Institute in the Church may be made to Our Lady of Guadaloupe Friary, 199 Colonel Brown Rd., Griswold, CT 06351).
The Symposium in Kent presented yet another exposition of the rich Franciscan theology of Mary's Co-redemptive role in the Christian economy of salvation as found in the writings of St. Francis, St. Bonaventure, Blessed John Duns Scotus, and St. Maximilian Kolbe as well as a host of saints across the centuries. Among the scholarly papers read at the Symposium were:
- Lateran University's Msgr. Bruno Gherardini's "Marian Co-redemption and the Spiritual Maternity of Mary";
- Swiss Fr. Arcangelo Parrotta's "The Spiritual Maternity of Mary in Gabriel M. Roschini";
- English Opus Dei's Fr. Andrew Byrne's "We Always Go to Jesus and We 'return' to Him Through Mary";
- Fr. Paul Sigl's "The Spiritual Maternity of Mary in the Life of the Saints";
- Swiss theologian Manfred Hauke's "Mary's Mediation in the Writings of Cardinal Mercier";
- and Argentine Seminary professor Fr. Carlos Biestros' "The Woman Clothed With The Sun";
- The Italian scholarship was represented by Rosario Sammarco, F.I.'s "The Spiritual Maternity of Mary in the 'Mariale' of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Doctor of the Church";
- Settimio Manelli, F.I.'s "The Sword of Simeon" (Lk. 2:34-35);
- and Mother Francesca Perillo, F.I.'s "Sub Tuum Praesidium";
- F.I.'s Founder and Minister General Fr. Stefano Mary Manelli delivered two papers: "The Mystery of Mary Co-redemptrix in the Writings of Mother Maria Costanza Zauli" and "The Exegesis of 'Stabat Mater'".
The thrust of the Symposium papers emphasized that the Mystery of Salvation is the Mystery of Jesus and Mary, who are inseparable in the Redemption of mankind (with the Mother of God always subordinate to the Savior Himself). The doctrine of Mary's role as Co-redemptress is a doctrine found in the deposit of faith. Space does not permit a deserved analysis of the scholarly papers noted above, but a brief notice of the contribution of the 5 American participants may be in order.
In his paper "Original Sin in Eastern Orthodox Theology and Objections to the Immaculate Conception", James Likoudis, president emeritus of Catholics United for the Faith (CUF), observed that those Eastern Orthodox most opposed to Catholic doctrine betrayed a flawed understanding of Original Sin. While admitting with Catholics that Original Sin involved the bodily consequences of ignorance, suffering, death and corruption, they deny that the descendants of Adam inherit the guilt of Original Sin accompanying the reception of a fallen human nature deprived of divine grace.
In his paper "Mary's Co-redemption According to Francisco Suarez, S.J.", Dr. Robert Fastiggi, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, Michigan, demonstrated how the great Jesuit "Doctor Eximius" believed that Mary can be understood as Co-redemptrix by reason of her Immaculate Conception which involves a singular role in the work of Redemption and dominion over the forces of evil.
Msgr. Arthur Burton Calkins, corresponding member of the Pontifical International Academy of the Immaculate and an official of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", spoke on "The Virgin Mary – Minister of Grace" and traced Our Lady's designation as "minister of grace" in Papal documents and in the new Collection of Masses in honor of the Blessed Virgin for the Roman Rite. He observed that in the U.S. translation of the "Collectio", the term "minister of grace" sanctioned in Church tradition and which supports Our Lady's being Mediatrix of all graces has been weakened. The term "minister" so often abused in our time (e.g.,"ministers of greetings" and ministers of hospitality") is withheld from the Blessed Virgin despite the "Collectio's" acknowledging Her as "minister at the altar of the Cross" and "minister of our redemption", "minister of God's saving plan", and "minister of grace for ourselves and the whole world". Every time the word "ministra" is applied to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Latin texts, it disappeared in the American translation.
For his part, Dr. Mark Miravalle, professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, traced the title of "Co-redemptrix" applied to the Mother of God in Catholic Tradition, noting it is 600 years old, the title "Redemptrix" being 1,000 years old, and 1800 years old as rooted in the doctrine of Mary as the "New Eve". The great Jesuit theologian at the Council of Trent Alphonse Salmeron, S.J., defended in his writings the titles of Our Lady as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate. The Steubenville theologian emphasized that the doctrine of Marian Coredemption had been taught by many Popes, Saints, and by such mystics as St. Leopoldo of Castelnuovo, Sr. Lucia of Fatima, and the soon-to-be beatified Mother Teresa who forcefully asserted "Mary is our Co-redemptress". He quoted the emphatic comment by the highly regarded Eduard Cardinal Gagnon, "How can any faithful Catholic question the appropriateness of that title?"
Much of the success of the Symposium was due to Fr. Peter Mary Fehlner, F.I., professor of theology at the Friars' Institute of Theological Studies, the "Immaculatam", in Frigento, Italy, who served as Symposium Chairman, and presided at the various sessions. With judicious theological comments drawn from the rich teaching of St. Bonaventure and Blessed John Duns Scotus, he summed up the doctrinal orientation of the Friars of the Immaculate: "Our Lady is our Philosophy". The development of Marian theology in our time, he added, is indispensable for the Church's overcoming the Crisis of Faith in our time and the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart prophesied at Fatima.
The Symposium of scholarly papers was climaxed by "A Day with Mary" where a large group of laity gathered in the large Chapel (featuring a large and majestic Crucifix of Christ the King) to praise and honor the Immaculata in song and fervent prayer. It was a sight to behold a large gathering of devotees of Our Lady (some of them in native African and West Caribbean dress) singing beautiful Latin Gregorian chants at Mass and Latin hymns rarely heard in American parishes. In all my years as a Catholic, I had never heard the Gregorian "Te Deum" sung by a congregation! The Masses celebrated throughout the Week's Symposium and during a day's pilgrimage to the Carmelite shrine at Aylesford by the Friars were impressive examples of how the renewed Liturgy can be celebrated with reverence, solemnity, and beauty. In the evenings organ and piano concerts by such talented musicians as Sr. Cecelia Manelli, F.I. enthralled Symposium participants.
The Emmaus Centre in West Wickham, Kent, was a perfect setting for the Symposium and the celebration of "A Day With Mary". Each year of the International Symposium on Marian Co-Redemption has seen the superb organizational talents exhibited by Claudio Lo Sterzo and his team of lay assistants who have played an indispensable part in assisting the Friars and Sisters of the Immaculate to reinvigorate Marian devotion in the Church. The many celebrations of "A Day with Mary" in parishes in England give hope to that nation's once again becoming "The Dowry of Mary".
The proceedings of the 3 previous Symposia with their rich theological studies have been published and are available from Academy of the Immaculate, 600 Pleasant St., New Bedford, MA 02740 or contacting the Website: www.marymediatrix.com
It is expected that the papers at this 4th International Symposium will be published soon.