Today at the “9th International Conference on Marian Coredemption” here in Fatima, the first four papers were read, including one by Msgr. Arthur Calkins, renowned Mariologist. His paper is entitled “Mary and the Church in the Papal Magisterium before and After the Second Vatican Council.” One would think that in the many years since the council some theologian would have written on the subject of Mary’s relation to the Church in papal magisterium, but apparently not.
In a particular, a remark of Msgr. Calkins made about what he calls “Vatican II triumphalism” struck me:
“Vatican II triumphalism” is virtually always a partial and one-sided interpretation of council documents which favors a position espoused by one party at the time of the council and studiously avoids mention of any conciliar statements which would counterbalance the “favored” position.
Boy, that nails it for me. This has been particularly true in the case of Mariology, which is the exact context in which the monsignor presents this observation. But this VII-T Syndrome has been adopted in many other respectes as well. Without belaboring the point, I think there is a robust TOB-T (Theology of the Body Triumphalism) at work here in the United States as well.
One instance of this problem in Mariology has been the way in which the relative place of Mary in the Church in respect to the magisterium has been minimized. The ancient title of Our Lady, Doctrix Apostolororum (Teacher of the Apostles) is not a very popular idea among the VII-triumphalists and has been judged by them to be an “outmoded form of theological attribution and piety.” Yet both John Paul II (see note 8 at this link for quote) and Benedict XVI (March 22, 2006) have acknowledged that the Marian dimension of the Church is prior and more fundamental than the petrine (having to do with the office of Peter). The triumphalists will say that on these points the popes are out of step with Vatican II, just as they did when John Paul II used the title Coredemptrix six times during his pontificate.
But the idea of Doctrix Apostolorum, is neither a post-Vatican II innovation, nor is it an idea that has been condemned or discouraged by Vatican II. Msgr. Calkins quotes Pius XII at length on the same subject. I will just give a bit of it here:
More exalted than St. Peter, the Vicar of Christ on earth, the Mother of our Lord Jesus yet has in common with Peter in a manner all her own a dignity, an authority, a power which associates her with the Apostolic College as its Queen.
This Marian office does not supplant the petrine or apostolic, but it is, nevertheless, superior to it. Pope Pius goes on:
While Peter has the key of heaven, Mary has the key to God’s heart; while Peter binds and looses, Mary also binds with the chain of love and looses with the gift of pardon (address to pilgrims from Genoa, April 21, 1940).
Another speaker today, Father Etienne Richer, pointed out that in the eithgth chapter of Lumen Gentium which treats of the Blessed Virgin, the council fathers write that the council
does not, however, have it in mind to give a complete doctrine on Mary, nor does it wish to decide those questions which the work of theologians has not yet fully clarified. Those opinions therefore may be lawfully retained which are propounded in Catholic schools concerning her, who occupies a place in the Church which is the highest after Christ and yet very close to us.
Thus VII triumphalism has gone way too far. It is time to stop presuming that the Church woke up to the modern age in the 1960’s. It is just not true. In particular, in respect to Marian doctrine and devotion, we should be cooperating with the Queen of Apostles to bring about the Triumph of Her Immaculate Heart and not hindering it by misguided triumphalism.