Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Did the Pope Worship Mary?

In light of the Pope John Paul II's intense devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus, as well as his Last Will and Testament, and in light of the "M" engraved on his coffin, it might seem as if JP II worshipped the mother of Christ.

Consider the fact that this man likely prayed over a hundred thousand Hail Mary's during the course of his life. Furthermore, his motto was "Totus Tuus ego sum", which is Latin for "I am totally yours" in reference to a total devotion to Mary. In his will, the pope stated:
    "I desire to follow Him, and I desire that everything making up part of my earthly life should prepare me for this moment. I do not know when the moment will come, but like everything else, I place it too in the hands of the Mother of my Master: Totus Tuus. In the same maternal hands I leave everything and everyone with whom my life and vocation have linked me. In these Hands I leave, above all, the Church, as well as my Nation and all humanity."

Wow! Can we conclude that the pope worshipped Mary? He actually put the future of the Catholic Church, and all humanity, in the hands of the Blessed Virgin!?! On the surface, this comes across as blasphemy, and a direct sin against the first commandment.

Of course, a comprehensive discussion of Catholic theology is beyond the scope of this post. But let me do my best to summarize Catholic beliefs as follows:
  • Catholics believe our Blessed Mother is in heaven with God, and with his son Jesus. I assume all Christians would agree.
  • It is not inconsistent to tell our spouses that "I am totally yours". Being devoted to and totally trusting of a person is not mutually exclusive with having a total devotion to God. I assume all Christians would agree.
  • Souls in heaven continue to worship our Lord in heaven. I assume all Christians would agree.
  • Mary, as the Mother of Christ, has a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ than any other person who has ever lived. I assume all Christians would agree.
  • It is beneficial to solicit the prayers of others in our times of need. Clearly, Christ is the only intermediary between God and man, but the prayers of other men/women are heard by God. I assume all Christians would agree.
  • Souls in heaven can and do assist us by praying for us in heaven. I assume non-Catholics would disagree.
  • If we are to turn to any soul in heaven to serve as our advocate, Mary is clearly the best choice given her relationship with Jesus. I assume all Christians would agree.

    We can conclude that, if you believe that souls in heaven hear our prayers and in turn pray for us, it is most beneficial to solicit the prayers of the Mother of God the Son. It is also safe to conclude that devotion does not constitute worship. In summary, the only aspect of John Paul II's devotion to Mary inconsistent with most Protestant beliefs is the idea that souls in heaven can/do pray on our behalf.

    To further make the point that JP II was devoted to Mary (as opposed to worshipped Mary), let's take a quick look at another revealing quote from his Last Will and Testament, which serves to clarify his relationship with God, and the Blessed Virgin Mother:
  • "Once again, I wish to entrust myself totally to the Lord's grace. He Himself will decide when and how I must end my earthly life and pastoral ministry. In life and in death, Totus Tuus in Mary Immaculate."

    In other words, even though he was devoted to Mary and consistently asked for her intercessory prayers, he recognized his total dependence on God's grace, and his total reliance on Christ as our redeemer.
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