A Biblical Examination of Mariolatry From Rome’s Official Sources
One of the points of controversy that is still acknowledged between biblical Protestants and the Church of Rome is over “mariolatry,” or the place of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. I want to examine what the official documents of the Catholic Church say, because Catholic apologists often tell a different story. The quotes below are from Lumen Gentium (“Light of the Nations”), promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1964, out of the work of the Second Vatican Council. So, it is not one man’s opinion, nor is it some obscure ancient document. These portions, from Chapter VIII, “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the Mystery of Christ and the Church,” are from the English translation found on the Vatican’s own website. So, again, there is no allowance for claiming that I am using distorted or obscure sources.
Mary’s Supposed Victory Over the Serpent
She is already prophetically foreshadowed in the promise of victory over the serpent, which was given to our first parents after their fall into sinLumen Gentium(sec. 55).
The text cites Genesis 3:15 for this statement. In the Douay-Rheims translation, that verse reads, “I will put enmities [sic] between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she [sic] shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” “She” is from the Latin version. In the Hebrew, the pronoun is masculine singular, which is why most translations read “he” (or “He”).
In apparent embarrassment over this error, the New Jerusalem Bible reads “it,” and the New American Bible puts “they.” All three are Catholic versions of the Bible. The use of “He” points to Jesus as the seed of the woman, i. e., of Eve, not Mary, who shall crush the head of Satan, and we in Him (Romans 16:20).
Pope Pius IX (in Ineffabilis Deus) said of this verse, “These ecclesiastical writers in quoting the words by which at the beginning of the world God announced his merciful remedies prepared for the regeneration of mankind . . . saying, ‘I will put enmities between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed’ taught . . . that his most Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, was prophetically indicated; and, at the same time, the very enmity of both [Mary and her Son] against the evil one was significantly expressed.” And Pope John-Paul II wrote (in Mulieris Dignitatem) “It is significant that [in Galatians 4:4] St. Paul does not call the Mother of Christ by her own name, ‘Mary,’ but calls her ‘woman’: This coincides with the words of the Protoevangelium in the book of Genesis (cf. Gen. 3:15). She is that ‘woman’ who is present in the central salvific event that marks the ‘fullness of time: This event is realized in her and through her.”
Mary as Mediatrix
The Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix [“helper”], Adjutrix [also meaning “helper”], and Mediatrix [the Latin feminine form of “mediator”]. This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ, the one MediatorLumen Gentium (sec. 62).
So, Mary is called “advocate,” “helper,” and “mediator.” “Advocate” (I John 2:1) and “Mediator” (I Timothy 2:5) are titles of Christ, and “helper” (John 14:16) is a title of the Holy Spirit, but, we are assured, the use of those titles for Mary does not impinge on the dignity of Christ. Well, if they say so, who am I to argue? The document continues, “The unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude, but rather gives rise to, a manifold cooperation, which is but a sharing in this one source.” That is utter gobbledygook. If one gives the title of mediator to someone other than Christ, it is mere doublespeak then to claim that the title does not impinge on the mediatorial role of Christ.
Mary’s Perpetual Virginity
The Church indeed, contemplating her [i. e., Mary’s] hidden sanctity, imitating her charity, and faithfully fulfilling the Father’s will by receiving the word of God in faith, becomes, herself, a mother… Imitating the mother of her Lord, and by the Holy Spirit, she keeps with virginal purity an entire faith, a firm hope, and a sincere charityLumen Gentium (sec. 64).
So, here, the Catholic Church applies to herself the attributes that she has ascribed to her mythical Mother Mary. Thus, all the circumlocutions that they have used to worship (without worshiping) Mary were really for the benefit of creating an aura of perfection for herself! “While in the most holy Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she is without spot or wrinkle, the followers of Christ still strive to increase in holiness by conquering sin” (sec. 65). So, while the Church is perfect, holy, and without sin, the members thereof are not. Is the subterfuge not plain? By proclaiming the church free of sin, but the members not, she can then assume a tyrannical place over her members, a place from which her teachings and demands are above scrutiny or doubt.
The Exaltation of Mary
Placed by the grace of God, as God’s Mother, next to her Son, and exalted above all angels and men, Mary intervened in the mysteries of Christ, and is justly honored by a special cult [sic] in the ChurchLumen Gentium(sec. 66).
So, while claiming that she doesn’t worship Mary (or the other saints), Rome at the same time teaches a cult of Mary, a distinction without a difference. “The various forms of piety toward the Mother of God, which the Church, within the limits of sound and orthodox doctrine, according to the conditions of time and place and the nature and ingenuity of the faithful, has approved, bring it about that, while the Mother is honored, the Son, through Whom all things have their being, and in Whom it has pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell, is rightly known, loved, and glorified, and that all His commands are observed” (ibid.). So, how do we know that all the worship of Mary stays within “sound and orthodox” limits? Well, because the Catholic Church says so. And if that strikes you as circular, well, according to the Vatican Council, you just are not understanding things correctly. Maybe you should ask the “Helper” for help with that.
Why have I written all of this? Because Protestants have been pointing out the idolatry (in this case, mariolatry) of the Catholic Church for hundreds of years. Yet, Rome has denied it from one side of their mouths while promoting it from the other. That is simple deception, equivocation, obfuscation. Use what term you will. What it cannot be called is Christian. It is baptized paganism, destructive of the soul, and under the judgment of God. All of the self-serving doublespeak of Rome merely proves all the more that she is no church of Christ, but a mere cult, the synagogue of Satan, the Whore of Revelation 17, and the enslaver of men’s souls.