Confirmation That this Book Accurately Presents the Catholic Church’s Understanding of Mary
As a former conservative “mainline” and a former Evangelical Protestant Christian, I know that many Protestant Christians (including former Catholics who were never “model Catholics”) have such grossly warped perceptions of Catholic Marian teachings that they will be very relieved to hear Catholic Mariology as I describe it, avoiding the “language barrier” terms which cause misunderstandings and emphasizing how the Marian teachings relate to and support the common essential or fundamental beliefs of Christianity. However, some will likely also be concerned that this is not “really” what the Catholic Church believes about Mary, because their anti-Catholic misconceptions are so strongly ingrained and they may know Catholics who use the “language barrier” terms which Protestants misunderstand and thus which seem to confirm some of the Protestant misconceptions. Some good Catholics may also be concerned that my presentation of Catholic Mariology is not entirely accurate simply because I avoid using many terms and approaches to talking about Mary which Catholics commonly use but which are misunderstood by Protestants. Thus, to alleviate such concerns on either side, I present below my original rough Forward entitled “The Purpose of this Book,” which specifically addresses these concerns in order to explain to both Catholic and Protestant Christian readers that they can be confident that in reading this book they are getting “the real deal” about the Catholic Church’s understanding of Mary, though not a complete description of every element of Catholic Mariology (impossible in so short a work!).
Original Forward – “The Purpose of this Book”
The main purpose of this book is to facilitate the Ecumenism so strongly promoted by the 21st Ecumenical Council (Vatican II) and so needed by the Christian Church as a whole if it is to be efficient at fulfilling its mission to the world for love of Jesus. This book seeks to do so by explaining both the often-misunderstood Catholic dogmas (necessary doctrines or teachings) concerning Mary the Mother of Jesus and the current very popular Catholic doctrine and Marian theology (“Mariology”) of “Mary Mediatrix of All Graces” (which some Catholics would like to see dogmatized), but explaining them both in terms which both Protestant/Evangelical Christians and Catholic (and Orthodox) Christians should be able to truly understand. I will explain them in newer terms (emphasizing Mary’s place in the Body of Christ the Church) which avoid the usually misunderstood terminology and approaches, in order to help Protestant and Catholic Christians understand each other better and so be able to dialogue with each other better about this area of difference which frequently unnecessarily causes so much tension between Protestant and Catholic Christians and thus hampers the witness of the Body of Christ to the world.
I believe I can with confidence offer this book to the reader, whether Catholic or Protestant (or Eastern Orthodox), as expressing accurately the true and constant and current Catholic Church understanding of Mary, merely expressed in a somewhat new way and approach which is not so prone to misunderstanding as some more traditional expressions of Catholic Mariology, for the following reasons:
I was trained in Catholic theology (graduating “With Honors”) at an institution which Pope John Paul II himself, known for his great Marian devotion, referred to as “the Catholic University most faithful to the teachings of the Church, in the whole world”;1
I was at this “most faithful” Catholic University trained in the Catholic Church’s Mariology specifically by a professor with a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from Rome who is a world-renowned Mariologist and international speaker who has had Catholic cardinals (who elect the pope) write the Forwards to his own books on Mary (Dr. Mark Miravalle, S.T.D.). Dr. Miravalle is even the founder of Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici (“Voice of the People for Mary Mediatrix”), a Catholic organization which is petitioning the pope (having well over 8 million signatures so far) for a formal dogmatic definition of the popular Catholic doctrine of Mary as Mediatrix of All Graces.
This world-class Catholic Mariologist, supported by Catholic Cardinals, wrote of the first version of this book of mine you are holding (which was a term paper for him), “What an extraordinary level of scholarship you’ve brought to your study of our Mother! Superb!”
Thus it is with confidence that I offer all readers this book as an accurate expression of the Catholic Church’s true and constant and current understanding of Mary the mother of Jesus, expressed in a newer way (emphasizing Mary’s place in the Body of Christ the Church) which is not so prone to misunderstanding as are the more traditional expressions of Catholic Mariology, traditional expressions and approaches which this book explains in ways that both Catholic Christians and Protestant Christians should be able to understand and appreciate, so as to lessen rather than further the common gross misconceptions many Protestant/ Evangelical Christians have about the Catholic Church’s relationship with Mary the mother of Jesus our Savior.
© 2005, 2009 Peter William John Baptiste SFO
1As testified by Father Ilija Zivkovic, the Minister General of the Franciscan Third Order Regular (TOR), at Mass in Christ the King Chapel at Franciscan University of Steubenville, on Monday, July 28, 2003. The worldwide head of the TOR, based in Rome, reported that he saw John Paul II frequently, and he said that whenever the Pope saw him, “Holy Father always asks, ‘how is Steubenville?’ ” When he talked to John Paul II shortly before coming to Steubenville in 2003, “Holy Father said Steubenville was the Catholic University most faithful to the teachings of the Church, in the whole world.” I am certain that the Pope did not intend his statement as part of a definitive ranking of faithful Catholic Universities, but John Paul II clearly intended to convey his high opinion of Franciscan University of Steubenville as one of the most faithful Catholic Universities in the world, as a compliment to the head of the Order which runs the University.