Answer to Anti-Catholic James G. McCarthy on Co-Redemptrix


This is a response to the article "Hail, Mary, Co-Redeemer?" from James McCarthy's anti-Catholic web site and excerpted from his anti-Catholic Fundamentalist book The Gospel According to Rome (Harvest House, 1995). I will quote first an extended excerpt from his chapter "The Queen of Heaven and Earth" to show you what McCarthy really believes about the Blessed Mother of God --

"It is here [supposedly referring to Exodus 20:3] that Roman Catholic devotion to Mary first crosses the line into idolatry. When misguided Catholics kneel before a statue of Mary, kiss her feet, and offer to her heartfelt praise and petition, they give to a creature the devotion which belongs to God alone. It is irrelevant that the Church defines this honor as secondary to that which is to be given to God. God will have no other gods before Him regardless of how inferior. And though the Roman Catholic Mary is not an infinite and eternal being such as the God of the Bible, she is every bit as much a goddess as were the false gods and goddesses of the ancient world... This is the Mary of Roman Catholicism, a woman whom the Church has exalted above every other created being and has assigned attributes, titles, powers, and prerogatives that in Scripture belong to God alone. To her the Church has erected statues, shrines, churches, cathedrals, and basilicas. To her the Church calls all the faithful to lift their prayers, petitions, and praise. This is nothing more than pagan goddess worship dressed up in Roman Catholic gowns... In its doctrine, the Church enthrones Mary in heaven at the right hand of Christ. Can the Roman Catholic Church hope to escape the judgment of God?" (James G. McCarthy, The Gospel According to Rome, page 223, 225-226)

To show how far modern anti-Catholic Fundamentalism/Evangelicalism has come since the original Protestants of the 16th century, Martin Luther preached on the Feast of the Visitation (July 2, 1532) after his break with Rome  --

"She, the Lady above heaven and earth, must have a heart so humble that she might have no shame in washing the swaddling clothes or preparing a bath for St. John the Baptist, like a servant girl. What humility! It would surely have been more just to have arranged for her a golden coach, pulled by 4,000 horses, and to cry and proclaim as the carriage proceeded: 'Here passes the woman who is raised FAR ABOVE all women, indeed above the WHOLE human race.'"

French Reformed pastor Charles Drelincourt (who well represents the Protestant Reformed/Calvinist tradition of the 17th century) wrote  --

"We do not simply believe that God has favoured the holy and blessed Virgin more than all the Patriarchs and the Prophets, but also that He has exalted her above all Seraphim. The angels can only qualify as servants of the Son of God, the creatures and workmanship of his hands; but the holy Virgin is not only the servant and the creature but also the Mother of this great and living God." (see these quotations in Calvinist theologian Max Thurian's study Mary, Mother of All Christians)

I now quote McCarthy from his online article as <<   >>

<< Hail, Mary, Co-Redeemer? by James G. McCarthy... Pope John Paul II may be about to make an infallible proclamation, recognizing Mary as the co-redeemer of the human race >>

First, it should be noted the words "Hail, Mary" is the greeting the angel Gabriel gave to the Blessed Mother (going further by replacing her name with "Full of Grace" or Kecharitomene) announcing the wonderful good news (gospel) that she is to be the Mother of the Messiah from Luke chapter 1:

"In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, 'HAIL, FULL OF GRACE, THE LORD IS WITH YOU!' But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High...." (Luke 1:26-32 RSV, the Protestant Evangelical NIV translates "Full of Grace" Kecharitomene with "you who are highly favored")

James McCarthy begins by implying (with the word "Co-Redeemer" in the title of the article) the Catholic teaching means the Blessed Mother is equal to her Son (just as another prominent anti-Catholic, James White and his anti-Marian book was titled [apparently not by him, but by his publisher], "Mary, Another Redeemer?"). The technically correct term is "Co-Redemptrix" meaning a woman "with the Redeemer" -- not "another" Redeemer. I ask: why does McCarthy not use the theologically correct Catholic term if he desires to present an accurate critique of Catholic teaching? Who is his intended audience? Faithful, loyal Catholics who really know their Faith or the typical ignorant ex-Catholic or anti-Catholic fundamentalist? I say the latter. Granted there is enough ignorance to go around.

What Does Co-Redemptrix Really Mean?

Here is a short explanation what Co-Redemptrix means. Just as Christians are called explicitly in Scripture "co-workers" with God (1 Cor 3:9-15 also 2 Cor 5:18-6:2 -- "for we are God's fellow workers" NIV, the context of both passages is salvation, reconciliation, redemption, etc), so Mary being the first believing Christian and Mother of God the Son, is preeminantly the "co-worker" with God in salvation, since she cooperated with God in bringing the divine Son of God into the world. As McCarthy himself notices in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "By pronouncing her 'fiat" at the Annunciation and giving her consent to the Incarnation, Mary was already collaborating with the whole work her Son was to accomplish" (Catechism 973).

That is a simple fact of the Gospel message. Mary brought Jesus into the world, and Jesus brought salvation and redemption to the world, both at the Incarnation (Luke 1:26ff; John 1:1,14,29; 1 John 4:9ff; 3:5; etc) and by his death on the cross (Rom 5: 8ff; Col 2:13ff; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 2:2; etc). As the writer to the Hebrews tells us, the BODY of Jesus Christ was the instrument of the Redemption (Hebrews 10:10). In this most important sense of giving flesh to the Savior in the Incarnation, Mary cooperated with God in the redemption of the world and is therefore "Co-Redemptrix" of the human race. No Mary, No Jesus just as Know Mary, Know Jesus. Without Mary there is no Incarnation and therefore no salvation, and knowing and loving the Blessed Mother brings us ever closer to her Son. One of the primary lay spokesman for the "Vox Populi" Co-Redemptrix movement in the Catholic Church further explains:

"When the Church calls Mary the 'Co-Redemptrix,' she means that Mary uniquely participated in the Redemption of humanity with her Son Jesus Christ, although in a completely subordinate and dependent manner to that of her Son. Mary participated in Jesus' reconciliation of the human family with God like no other created person...How did the Mother of Jesus do this? First of all, Mary participated in Redemption by accepting the invitation of the angel to become the Mother of God and by giving flesh to the Savior. Early Church Fathers saw the Incarnation and Redemption as one, unified, saving act....and Mary brought the world its Redeemer at the Incarnation...Since the very instrument for the Redemption, the body of Jesus, was given to Him by Mary, the Mother of Jesus clearly played an intimate part in the redeeming of the human race with her Son, far beyond that of any other creature." (Dr. Mark Miravalle, An Introduction to Mary: The Heart of Marian Doctrine and Devotion, page 68-69)

That is the primary meaning of Co-Redemptrix and if McCarthy were to attempt to "refute" that teaching, he would be denying the Incarnation of Christ, the most essential doctrine of the historic Christian Faith and thus denying his own "gospel" is in any sense Christian. In fact, it can be shown many anti-Catholics do just that when denying the title Theotokos (Mother of God) to Mary, or at least many of them have a very confused Christology.

One Redeemer and Savior

In his online article "Hail, Mary, Co-Redeemer?" which is a trimmed down version of chapter 9 ("The Queen of Heaven and Earth") in The Gospel According to Rome, he uses such sub-titles as: "There is One Redeemer, Not Two" and "Mary Was Not Qualified to Redeem Mankind" and finally ends his article with the statement: "Christ alone, therefore, deserves the title of Redeemer." All I can say to such things is "Of course there is one redeemer, not two" and the Catholic Church does not teach otherwise. We know who the one Savior is:

"The name 'Jesus' signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation [Cf. Jn 3:18; Acts 2:21; 5:41; 3 Jn 7; Rom 10:6-13], so that "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" [Acts 4:12; cf. 9:14; Jas 2:7]." (Catechism 432)

"The Paschal mystery of Christ's cross and Resurrection stands at the center of the Good News that the apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the world. God's saving plan was accomplished 'once for all' [Heb 9:26] by the redemptive death of his Son Jesus Christ." (Catechism 571)

"The Scriptures had foretold this divine plan of salvation through the putting to death of 'the righteous one, my Servant,' as a mystery of universal redemption, that is, as the ransom that would free men from the slavery of sin [Isa 53:11; cf. 53:12; Jn 8:34-36; Acts 3:14]. Citing a confession of faith that he himself had 'received,' St. Paul professes that 'Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures' [1 Cor 15:3; cf. also Acts 3:18; 7:52; 13:29; 26:22;23]. In particular Jesus' redemptive death fulfills Isaiah's prophecy of the suffering servant [Cf. Isa 53:7-8 and Acts 8:32-35]. Indeed Jesus himself explained the meaning of his life and death in light of God's suffering Servant [Cf. Mt 20:28]. After his Resurrection he gave this interpretation of the Scriptures to the disciples at Emmaus, and then to the apostles [Cf. Lk 24:25-27, 44-45]." (Catechism 601)

"Mary's function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin's salutary influence on men...flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it [LG 60]. No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful [1 Peter 2:9; Rev 1:6], and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also 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 [LG 62]." (Catechism 970)

Does McCarthy quote such paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church? No. Why I ask? I thank God for those he does quote, but for all his supposed "scholarship" (over 550 endnotes in the original book) and citation of Catholic sources it appears he really wants his mainly anti-Catholic fundamentalist audience to be kept in the dark about what the Catholic Church really teaches on the "Co-Redemptrix." The Church does not claim to place "another redeemer" or "second redeemer" or a "second mediator" (1 Tim 2:5) to be equal with the Lord Jesus Christ. As even McCarthy recognizes in his online article, Mary as the Catholic Church defines her indeed has a "subordinate role to Christ" in the salvation and redemption of humanity, just as we all have our subordinate roles to play in salvation as co-workers with God, through prayer and loving one's neighbor as part of the communion of saints! We bring people to salvation with God's help, by our cooperation with God's grace, through prayer and preaching and living the Christian gospel in our daily lives. This is hardly "unbiblical." In fact the idea of co-workers in salvation, reconciliation, redemption in the one body of Christ, even subordinate "co-mediators" (1 Tim 2:1-7) is very biblical (1 Cor 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1; 1 Cor 12:12ff; Eph 4:4ff; John 15:1-8; etc). The Bible shows us quite clearly we are to share in Christ's own redemption and sufferings (Rom 8:17-18; Col 1:24; 1 Peter 1:6-9; 4:1; etc).

Is This Teaching "Unbiblical" ?

While admitting the Co-Redemptrix teaching is a "long-time Catholic doctrine" -- he even quotes the famous statement from St. Irenaeus on Mary's cooperation: "being obedient [she] became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race" apparently making this early saint and Father (c. 140-202 AD) a member of the "Roman Catholic Church" -- McCarthy claims:

<< The following excerpt from The Gospel According to Rome explains what the Church of Rome means by Mary's work of redemption and why this teaching is unbiblical. >>

Let's see how well McCarthy does here. Again, he would have to first show how the Incarnation of Christ is "unbiblical" to show "Mary's work of redemption" is unbiblical since Mary as "Co-Redemptrix" is tied inexorably to the Incarnation. What McCarthy attempts to do, rather is to demonstrate the seeming "excesses" of Catholic teaching by citing statements from certain papal encyclicals (mainly Pius XII Mystici Corporis, Benedict XV Inter Sadolicia, John Paul II Salvifici Doloris, and others). These are now readily available on the Internet so one can easily check the context of McCarthy's citations.

McCarthy proceeds to first present the Catholic Church's teaching on Co-Redemptrix by citing his sources very sparingly. These are Vatican Council II, the Catechism, and brief excerpts from papal encyclicals which stress Mary's offering of her maternal rights of her Son on the cross to the Father in perfect obedience to God's will. He brings out especially those statements from the encyclicals where Mary is said to have "offered Him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father, together with the holocaust of her maternal rights and her motherly love, like a New Eve for all children of Adam" (from Pius XII Mystici Corporis, 1943). A similar statement reads like this:

"Mary suffered and, as it were, nearly died with her suffering Son; for the salvation of mankind she renounced her mother's rights and, as far as it depended on her, offered her Son to placate divine justice; so we may well say that she with Christ redeemed mankind." (from Benedict XV Inter Sadolicia, 1918)

I assume these two statements are especially "unbiblical" to McCarthy (he refers to them twice). What must first be stated is that these are not formal definitions of the Co-Redemptrix doctrine, although they do express the Marian sentiments of prominent popes and saints through the ages. In explanation, Dr. Mark Miravalle writes:

"Mary, in an act of obedience to the will of God, offered Jesus, and with Jesus, her own suffering by sharing in the experience of the passion and death of Our Lord in atonement for our sins. It is in this sense that we say Mary offered her maternal rights on Calvary and rightly refer to Mary as the Co-redemptrix with the Redeemer." (Miravalle, page 69-70)

A more detailed explanation is found in the New Catholic Encyclopedia, in its articles on the Blessed Virgin Mary:

"The activity exercised by the Blessed Virgin at the time of the conception and birth of Christ was carried on all during her life and reached its culmination on Calvary. In His supreme hour of sacrifice, the Redeemer drew His mother into His suffering to associate her with His redeeming act. He received her dedication, love, merits, and integrated her agony into His own Passion in order to offer them to the Father for the salvation of mankind. Mary's suffering endowed her maternity over men with a new dimension. Her first childbearing, by which she became the mother of God, was without pain; her second childbearing, by which she became fully the mother of sinners, was painful in the extreme. While Jesus was offering Himself in sacrifice for men's Redemption, His mother offered her Son for the same purpose and, thus cooperating in men's birth to supernatural life, became in a heightened sense the mother of the Church. The Mother's contribution to the work of Redemption far surpasses that of the Church. Not only did she precede the Church during Christ's mortal life, but she was integrated into the very Passion that procured men's reconciliation with God. She who was one with her Son at the Incarnation was one with him at the moment of Redemption. The activity of the Church is exercised on the lower plane of application of the merits and atonement of Calvary." (New Catholic Encyclopedia [1967], volume 9, "Mary, Blessed Virgin II", page 356)

Now granted you won't find all of this spelled out in any detail in the Gospel accounts. This is a result of centuries of pious theological reflection on what it means that Mary is the Virgin Mother of God and Blessed Mother of the Church. To dismiss it all as "unbiblical" as McCarthy does is to dismiss the working of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, in Christians through the centuries (John 14:16-17; 16:13). In what sense did Mary cooperate at the Incarnation and Crucifixion of her Son? Was she a "passive bystander" as many fundamentalists would believe? Or did she have a more active role? These are the kinds of theological questions the great popes and saints who wrote in their devotions and reflections on Mary tried to answer. Since God required the Virgin Mary's assent at the birth of the Savior (Luke 1:38,47) and thus she became the Mother of the Lord (Luke 1:43) and therefore Mother of God and Blessed Mother of the Church (John 19:25-27), so her motherly assent was also necessary at his death on the cross. Here Mary united her sufferings to that of her Son (Luke 2:35, the prophecy of Simeon that a sword shall pierce her heart), and since she is the preeminent member of the Church, she fulfills to the highest degree what St. Paul spoke about in filling up in the flesh "what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church" (Col 1:24). As even McCarthy admits later, "she undoubtedly suffered greatly" and to suggest this has no theological or redemptive significance given who she was (the Mother of God, which sadly McCarthy also attempts to deny) is the "unbiblical" teaching.

This further confirms that she is the most blessed of all women (Luke 1:42) and that all generations will call her blessed (Luke 1:48) since she is a perfect model, as a human creature, of Christian holiness and obedience to the Lord. The further Mariological conclusions drawn are not proved as biblical or "unbiblical" by anyone's private interpretation of Scripture -- especially that of McCarthy who has an axe to grind against the Church.

Let me state again: McCarthy often leaves out those important clarifications and distinctions I have cited already from the Catechism and Vatican II: namely that Mary's role and function as Co-Redemptrix/Mediatrix (1) in no way obscures or diminishes the unique mediation and redemption of Christ; (2) flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests and depends entirely on Christ's unique mediation and redemption; (3) and just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways by Christ's people, so the unique mediation of the Redeemer is a sharing in this one source. As Mark Miravalle explains,

"Again it must be stated that Mary's participation in the redemption of the human family was completely and in every way secondary and dependent to the sacrifice of Jesus the Savior. Hence, the title Co-redemptrix should never be interpreted as Mary having an equal role in the salvation of the world with Jesus. At the same time, her truly meritorious act of giving flesh to the Redeemer and of participating uniquely in Jesus' painful sacrifice rightly won for her the title of Co-redemptrix." (Miravalle, page 70)

These distinctions are lost in McCarthy's attempt to demonstrate, "well despite what the Catechism actually says, Catholics really believe in two redeemers, not one." That is typical anti-Catholic fundamentalist bunk. To get the full picture on the Catholic doctrine on Mary and the Communion of Saints, read the Catechism carefully, especially paragraphs 484 to 511 and 963 to 975. Another good source is the older three volumes titled Mariology edited by Juniper Carol. These go into the kind of depth that is required to understand the full role of the Blessed Mother in salvation history and Catholic theology.

Examination of the "Biblical Response" To Co-Redemptrix

Let's now examine McCarthy's so-called "Biblical Response" to the Catholic doctrine. Several times he states, first under a sub-title "There is one redeemer, not two" --

<< Scripture is clear that the Lord alone is our redeemer... But the fact of the matter is that Mary did not die on Calvary. Christ alone gave His life for our redemption.... That is why God sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to redeem us. He alone was qualified.... Christ alone, therefore, deserves the title of Redeemer. >>

To prove this he enlists such verses as Isaiah 49:26 ("I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer..."). Of course the Catholic Church agrees with this! The Catholic teaching on Co-Redemptrix (properly understood) does not deny this in any way. Why McCarthy has to point out the obvious -- "Mary did not die on Calvary" -- is again an appeal to his anti-Catholic fundamentalist audience who might think Catholics believe she did. In fact, McCarthy attempted to demonstrate indeed some Catholics really believe Mary died on a cross for the sins of the world since he found a depiction of a woman martyr who was crucified, who McCarthy mistakenly believed was Mary! This error was exposed by Bob Sungenis and others in the first edition of McCarthy's anti-Catholic video Catholicism: Crisis of Faith (released in 1991 I believe). He subsequently removed this embarrassing error in future editions. See the article from Catholic Answers on McCarthy's video for more information.

<< The Church's claim that Mary offered Christ "on Golgotha to the Eternal Father" [citing Pius XII] contradicts Scripture. The Bible says that Christ "offered Himself without blemish to God" (Hebrews 9:14). ...Similarly, there is no biblical support for the Roman Catholic claim that Mary "with Christ redeemed mankind" [citing Benedict XV] >>

There is no necessary contradiction here (Hebrews chapters 9-10) as I've explained. Mary's role as Co-Redemptrix (again this is not defined as De Fide dogma) is completely subordinate and entirely dependent on Christ's redemption and sacrifice. It is a cooperative role just as we are called to be "co-workers" with God in salvation (1 Cor 3:9; 2 Cor 5:20; 6:1 cf. Phil 2:12-13). In the sense I have defined the primary meaning of Co-Redemptrix, that Mary cooperated in the Redemption through the Incarnation of Christ, there certainly is plenty of "biblical support" for the claim that Mary "with Christ redeemed mankind" (John 1:1,14; 3:16-17; 1 John 4:9-14). The Adam-Christ (Rom 5:12ff; 1 Cor 15:20ff) and Eve-Mary parallel is found throughout the early Fathers of the Church, from St. Justin Martyr (c. 150 AD) forward showing us the entire history of Christianity believed that "Mary with Christ redeemed" the human race. This important early belief is stated explicitly by St. Irenaeus (cited by McCarthy, however with few exceptions the Church Fathers are altogether ignored in his book) :

"By disobeying, Eve became the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race. In the same way Mary, though she also had a husband, was still a virgin, and by obeying, she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race..." (St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3:22 c. 180 AD)

McCarthy also objects to paragraph 61 in the documents of Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium), but what he fails to quote is the opening sentence of that paragraph: "The predestination of the Blessed Virgin as Mother of God was associated with the incarnation of the divine word...She conceived, brought forth, and nourished Christ...shared her Son's sufferings as he died on the cross. Thus, in a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Savior in restoring supernatural life to souls..." Again, the meaning of Co-Redemptrix/Mediatrix is tied primarily to the fact of the Incarnation of Christ, that Mary cooperated in bringing the Savior into the world. To deny that is to deny the Bible.

McCarthy also goes after the supposed mistranslation of Genesis 3:15 which in some editions of the Latin Vulgate was translated "She shall crush thy head" making an explicit reference to the Blessed Mother as the crusher of the serpent (Satan). McCarthy says: "The verse is prophetically speaking of Christ's victory over Satan, not Mary's. Though recent Roman Catholic translations have corrected the error, Roman Catholic theology remains the same." The theology has remained since we don't get the Co-Redemptrix doctrine from any mistranslation of Hebrew. We get the doctrine from the fact of the Incarnation and the theological implications that follow. One point to notice is there are indeed WOMEN in the Old Testament who crush the head of the enemy: two examples of OT Marian types include Jael (Judges 4-5) and Judith (Book of Judith). As Curtis Mitch notes in Catholic For A Reason II: Scripture and the Mystery of the Mother of God :

"Beyond general points of correspondence, the common denominator linking together the experiences of Jael and Judith is the violent downfall of God's adversaries. Both women were chosen to strike down the commanding officer of enemy forces with a lethal blow to the head. The question that immediately presents itself to us is obvious: What possible connections could such brutal details have with the quiet life of Mary? In what specific way was she really like these biblical heroines? ...[citing Genesis 3:15] With this promise, God announces far in advance of its fulfillment that the devil's triumph in the Garden of Eden would eventually end in defeat, with his head being crushed or bruised under the trampling blows of the Messiah and His mother." (Curtis Mitch, page 56)

The translation of Genesis 3:15 either way (he vs. she) makes no difference. Catholic Answers senior apologist James Akin explains the reason for the various translations:

"The reason for the difference in the renderings is a manuscript difference. Modern translations follow what the original Hebrew of the passage says. The Douay-Rheims, however, is following a manuscript variant found in many early Fathers and some editions of the Vulgate (but not the original; Jerome followed the Hebrew text in his edition of the Vulgate). The variant probably originated as a copyist error when a scribe failed to take note that the subject of the verse had shifted from the woman to the seed of the woman....This does not mean that the idea cannot be validly applied to Mary as well. Through her cooperation in the incarnation of Christ, so that the Son of God (who, from the cross, directly crushed the head of the serpent) became her seed, Mary did crush the head of the serpent. In the same way, the serpent struck at Christ on the cross, and indirectly struck at Mary's heart as well, who had to witness the death of her own Son (cf. John 19:25-27)....This has long been recognized by Catholics. The footnotes provided a couple of hundred years ago by Bishop Challoner in his revision of the Douay state, 'The sense [of these two readings] is the same: for it is by her seed, Jesus Christ, that the woman crushes the serpent's head.'" (James Akin, from the Nazareth Resource Library web site, Q and A)

Finally, McCarthy dismisses the Catholic interpretation of Luke 2:34-35 that the prophecy of Simeon refers to Mary's suffering at the cross. He says: "The Roman Catholic claim that Mary suffered for the redemption of the world is unjustified for three reasons..." His three reasons are Mary (1) did not suffer for sin, (2) did not suffer death for sin, (3) was not qualified to redeem mankind. As I've explained, indeed Mary suffered at the cross (she "undoubtedly suffered greatly" according to McCarthy), and if that suffering was redemptive for salvation (what Catholics call "redemptive suffering"), she did so in a completely subordinant and secondary way to her Son, since the Catechism and Catholic doctrine make absolutely clear that Jesus Christ alone is the suffering Messiah and Savior of the world. While Christ merited our salvation and redemption by his suffering and death on the cross, there is still the question how that salvation is APPLIED to individual souls. Our sufferings as Christians can be joined to Christ's own sufferings which bring us closer to Him and thus sanctify and purify us, making us more like Him (Matt 16:24ff; 1 Cor 3:12-15; 1 Cor 12:26; 2 Cor 1:5-7; 1 Peter 1:6-9; 4:1; Rom 8:17-18; Heb 12:1-14; 1 John 3:2-3; etc).

Most of the above listed texts are in the context of salvation and/or sanctification. McCarthy tries to make a distinction between "suffering of compassion" and "suffering for the sake of righteousness" vs. "suffering for sin" but this does not have to be an either/or category. For example, 1 Peter 4:1 says "since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body IS DONE WITH SIN." Also 2 Corinthians 1:5-7 says "just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort AND SALVATION..." Colossians 1:24 is quite clear that we can "fill up in our flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church." If that is not a participation in the redemptive suffering of Christ, I'm not sure what is.

Human suffering is not redemptive by ourselves alone, but ONLY because we as Christians are united to Christ as part of his saving body, the branches in the vine (John 15:1-8). The Blessed Virgin Mother of God, as the preeminant saint and member of the Church, by her loving obedience and cooperation in the Incarnation, by her sufferings at the cross, and by her present prayer and intercession in heaven, has indeed brought salvation to the body of Christ, and redemption to the whole world. This way she really is the Co-Redemptrix of humanity and Mediatrix of all graces.

see also

Refutation of McCarthy's Gospel According to Rome by P

Exposing the Video "Catholicism: Crisis of Faith" by Catholic Answers

James G. McCarthy's "Good News for Catholics" Site


Back to Apologetics Articles

Back to Home Page

About | Apologetics | Philosophy | Spirituality | Books | Audio | Links