Synod Father Calls for Definition of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood

Synod on the Family Father, Bishop Jaime Fuentes of Minas, Uruguay, called on Pope Francis and the other Synod Bishops to consider a solemn papal definition of the Spiritual Motherhood of Mary as a powerful contemporary means of bringing grace to the family, the Church, and the present global situation.

Calling on Saint John Paul II, the Second Vatican Council, and Blessed Henry Cardinal Newman, Bishop Fuentes put forth a dynamic theological and pastoral argument for Pope Francis to solemnly recognize the intercession of Mary as the Spiritual Mother of all humanity for the pressing need of the People of God and the human family.

Pope Francis is well known for his personal love for Mary, as well as his common practice of bringing to Mary, as humanity spiritual Mother, the various needs of the Church and of the world.

Please find below the full text of the October 15 intervention of Bishop Fuentes, who is also a member of the Pontifical Marian Academy, during the 2015 Synod on the Family.

Synod Intervention of Bishops on The Vocation and Mission of The Family

Number 145 of the Instrumentum laboris contains this valuable affirmation: “Mary, in her tenderness, mercy and maternal sensitivity can nourish human hunger and life; that is why families and Christian people call upon her”.

These words reflect a lived experience, which is evident in a special way among the people of Latin America, since recourse to the Blessed Virgin, expressed in various forms of popular Marian piety, is an essential part of our way of living out our faith. In facing the challenges of the “New Evangelization”, when we must proclaim Jesus Christ and the “Gospel of the Family” to a hostile world, Mary Most Holy, who constantly “precedes” the Church (cf. John Paul II enc. Redemptoris Mater, n. 49), opens the way for us, she comforts us and reaches hearts with her maternal nature.

Pope Francis wrote, “every time we look upon Mary, we once again believe on the revolutionary aspect of tenderness and caring”. She “is the Mother of the evangelizing Church; (…) and without her we will never fully comprehend the spirit of the new evangelization” (enc. Evangelii gaudium, ns. 288 and 284).

During the memorable Marian Year from 1987-1988, St. John Paul II foresaw a task which, given the current context, acquires a singular importance: the Church should prepare (…) boldly facing the future, the ways of cooperating with Mary (cf. enc. Redemptoris Mater, n. 49). To put it a different way: in the mind of the Holy Pontiff, the Church would have to discover how to”make it easy” for the Virgin to exercise her Maternity, which in her Immaculate Heart reaches all women and men on earth.

In this way, the Catechism of the Catholic Church picks up a splendid possibility: “the dogmas– as it reads in number 89–are lights along the path of faith; they illuminate it, and make it secure”. Venturing into the “new evangelization” and thinking in the “ways” in which the Blessed Mother’s maternal love can effectively reach her daughters and sons, without exclusion where ever they may be, we should ask ourselves: “Wouldn’t the surest way be–iter para tutum!- the solemn and definitive proclamation of the dogma of her spiritual Maternity, a joyous reality, believed, experienced and loved by the Christian people? And wouldn’t this act also be the great momentum of holiness and apostolic purpose needed by the Church?

The answer to this double question should be given by the entire Church body. This was clearly taught by Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman: “the body of the faithful”, he wrote, “is one of the witnesses of the traditional nature of revealed doctrine, and (…) said consensus throughout Christianity, is the voice of the Infallible Church”. He taught that, in preparing for a dogmatic definition, “the laity had their testimony to offer; but if there is ever an case where the laity should be consulted, it is in regards to doctrines concerning directly on the devotional. (…) The faithful have a special function in regards to those doctrinal truths related to culture (…) and the Blessed Virgin is the preeminent object of devotion” (J.H. Newman, The Faithful and Tradition , —Los Fieles y la Tradición-, Buenos Aires, pp. 63 and 110s).

To sum up, for these theological reasons, from which we can obtain very rich consequences of a pastoral nature, and considering the teaching of Pope Francis, that the “sensus fidei” of the holy people of God, in its unity is never mistaken (Homily, January 1, 2014), I want to propose to the Holy Father to bring about a consultation directed to the entire Church, Pastors and faithful, regarding the prudence of defining as a truth of the faith, the doctrine of the Spiritual Maternity of Mary Most Holy. Thank you very much.

+ Mons. Jaime Fuentes Bishop of Minas Uruguay

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Mark Miravalle, S.T.D., is a professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, president of the international Marian movement Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici, and author of numerous books about Mary.

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