The Church does not hesitate to profess the Blessed Virginís
subordinate mediation and recommends it to the heartfelt attention of
"Far from being an obstacle to the exercise of Christ's unique
mediation, Mary instead highlights its fruitfulness and efficacy",
the Holy Father said at the General Audience of Wednesday, 1 October. In
his talk, the Pope focused on Mary's role as "Mediatrix",
which derives from Christ's and in no way overshadows it. Here is a
translation of his catechesis, which was the 65th in the series on the
Blessed Mother and was given in Italian.
1. Among the titles attributed to Mary in the Church's devotion,
chapter eight of Lumen gentium recalls that of "Mediatrix".
Although some Council Fathers did not fully agree with this choice of
title (cf. Acta Synodalia III, 8, 163-164), it was nevertheless
inserted into the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church as confirmation of
the value of the truth it expresses. Care was therefore taken not to
associate it with any particular theology of mediation, but merely to
list it among Mary's other recognized titles.
Moreover the conciliar text had already described the meaning of the
title "Mediatrix" when it said that Mary "by her manifold
intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation"
(Lumen gentium, n. 62).
As I recalled in my Encyclical Redemptoris Mater: "Mary's
mediation is intimately linked with her motherhood. It possesses a
specifically maternal character, which distinguishes it from the
mediation of the other creatures" (n. 38).
From this point of view it is unique in its kind and singularly
Mediation of Christ is not obscured by Mary's
2. With regard to the objections made by some of the Council
Fathers concerning the term "Mediatrix", the Council itself
provided an answer by saying that Mary is "a mother to us in the
order of grace" (Lumen gentium, n. 61). We recall that
Mary's mediation is essentially defined by her divine motherhood.
Recognition of her role as mediatrix is moreover implicit in the
expression "our Mother", which presents the doctrine of Marian
mediation by putting the accent on her motherhood. Lastly, the title
"Mother in the order of grace" explains that the Blessed
Virgin co-operates with Christ in humanity's spiritual rebirth.
3. Mary's maternal mediation does not obscure the unique and perfect
mediation of Christ. Indeed, after calling Mary "Mediatrix",
the Council is careful to explain that this "neither takes away
anything from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficacy of Christ
the one Mediator" (Lumen gentium, n. 62). And on this
subject it quotes the famous text from the First Letter to Timothy:
"For there is one God and there is one mediator between God and
men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all"
In addition, the Council states that "Mary's function as mother
of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ,
but rather shows its power (Lumen gentium, n. 60).
Therefore, far from being an obstacle to the exercise of Christ's
unique mediation, Mary instead highlights its fruitfulness and efficacy.
"The Blessed Virgin's salutary influence on men originates not in
any inner necessity but in the disposition of God. It 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" (Lumen
gentium, n. 60).
4. The value of Mary's mediation derives from Christ and thus the
salutary influence of the Blessed Virgin "does not hinder in any
way the immediate union of the faithful with Christ but on the contrary
fosters it" (ibid.).
The intrinsic orientation to Christ of the "Mediatrix's"
work spurred the Council to recommend that the faithful turn to Mary
"so that, encouraged by this maternal help they may the more
closely adhere to the Mediator and Redeemer" (Lumen gentium,
In proclaiming Christ the one mediator (cf. 1 Tm 2:5-6), the text of
St Paul's Letter to Timothy excludes any other parallel mediation, but
not subordinate mediation. In fact, before emphasizing the one exclusive
mediation of Christ, the author urges "that supplications prayers,
intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all men" (2:1). Are not
prayers a form of mediation? Indeed, according to St Paul, the unique
mediation of Christ is meant to encourage other dependent, ministerial
forms of mediation. By proclaiming the uniqueness of Christ's mediation,
the Apostle intends only to exclude any autonomous or rival mediation,
and not other forms compatible with the infinite value of the Saviour's
5. It is possible to participate in Christ's mediation in various
areas of the work of salvation. After stressing that "no creature
could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer"
(n. 62), Lumen gentium describes how it is possible for creatures
to exercise certain forms of mediation which are dependent on Christ. In
fact, "just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways
both by his ministers and the faithful, 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 co-operation which is but a sharing in this one source" (Lumen
gentium, n. 62).
Mary's maternal role depends on Christ's mediation
This desire to bring about various participations in the one
mediation of Christ reveals the gratuitous love of God who wants to
share what he possesses.
6. In truth, what is Mary's maternal mediation if not the Father's
gift to humanity? This is why the Council concludes: "The Church
does not hesitate to profess this subordinate role of Mary, which it
constantly experiences and recommends to the heartfelt attention of the
Mary carries out her maternal role in constant dependence on the
mediation of Christ and from him receives all that his heart wishes to
On her earthly pilgrimage the Church "continuously"
experiences the effective action of her "Mother in the order of