Roman Catholic Maryology: Mary in Roman Catholicism, part 8 – Immaculately Conceived?

At a glance:
If Mary was truly born without sin and never sinned (as we discussed in the article Sinless?) she could have been the Savior, the true Redeemer, the spotless lamb of God. However, we will see that the Catholic Church seeks by technicalities to make Mary both sinless and in need of a savior, which is a complete contradiction in terms. And we will clearly see that the text they use to concoct various Marian dogmas is perhaps the best text to use to prove that she was born with original sin.

New American Bible:
Revelation 12:1-2, “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Because she was with child, she wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.”
The footnote to these verses states, “Because of Eve’s sin, the woman gives birth in distress and pain (Gn 3, 16).”
Genesis 3:16 “To the woman [Eve] he said: ‘I will intensify the pangs of your childbearing; in pain shall you bring forth children.’”

The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:
Revelation 12:1-2, “AND A GREAT SIGN appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon was under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And being with child, she cried out in her travail and was in the anguish of delivery.”
The footnote to these verses states, “12, 1: A woman: this is not the Blessed Virgin, for the details of the prophecy do not fit her. The prophecy pictures the Church of the Old and New Covenant. The beams of the divine glory clothe her; the moon is beneath her feet; she is crowned with a crown of twelve stars, and she must bring forth Christ to the world. By accommodation the Church applies this verse to the Blessed Virgin.”

The New Testament Rendered from the Original Greek with Explanatory Notes:
Revelation 12:1-2, “A great sign appeared in the sky: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and cried out because of the pain and anguish of childbirth.”
The footnote to these verses states, “12:1. a woman: the spiritual Israel which gave birth to Christ in his real and in his mystic body, or as St. Augustine and many other Fathers put it, the city of God, which, of course, includes the Virgin Mary. Her clothing is indicative of her grandeur.”

We quote these texts in discussing the Immaculate Conception because Mary is said to be the woman in Revelation 12. The problem is that the woman in this text is suffering from the stain of original sin. The Vatican approved NAB Bible’s footnotes state this fact, “Because of Eve’s sin, the woman gives birth in distress and pain (Gn 3, 16).” Also from another Vatican approved Bible we learned that “this is not the Blessed Virgin…By accommodation the Church applies this verse to the Blessed Virgin.” Therefore, a choice must be made; either Mary was Immaculately Conceived or she is the woman in revelation, she cannot be both. For more on this issue see the essays Queen of Heaven? and Coronation in Heaven?

The Holy Bible with the Confraternity Text-Papal Edition—A Practical Dictionary of Biblical and General Catholic Information:

Immaculate Conception. The singular privilege by which the Blessed Virgin Mary, in view of the future merits of her divine son, Jesus Christ, was conceived free from original sin in the womb of her mother, St. Anne. This privilege of Mary was solemnly defined to be a dogma of faith on December 8, 1854, by Pope Pius IX in the following words: ‘We declare, pronounce and define that the most blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin by the singular grace and privilege of the omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, and that this doctrine was revealed by God, and therefore must be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.’
Catholics likewise believe that Mary was immune from even the slightest sin throughout her whole life, this being a dogma declared by the Council of Trent in 1547. However, Mary’s sinlessness is thought by Catholics to be the result of a special divine privilege, as distinguished from Christ’s sinlessness, which was a necessary postulate of His divinity.

Note that the Immaculate Conception of Mary was not an official dogma of the Roman Catholic Church until circa one 1,854 years after Mary.

New American Bible Fireside Family Edition—Encyclopedic Dictionary and Biblical Reference Guide:

On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius XI issued the bull, ‘Ineffablis Deus’ which defined the Immaculate Conception as an article of faith and truth contained in the original teachings of the Apostles…It is a Holy Day of Obligation.”
We must ask, if the Immaculate Conception of Mary was an authentic teaching of the Apostles, why did it not become Roman Catholic dogma until 1,854 years after the Apostles taught it? Even if it was acceptable from very early times to believe in the Immaculate Conception what happened in 1854 that caused to become a Holy Day of Obligation, which as discussed in the essay Assumed in to Heaven? means that if a Catholic does not go to church on that day (and do not confess to a priest), they are condemned to hell for all eternity.[fn]If one has this mortal sin forgiven by confession to a priest, they must still suffer for it in Purgatory. [/fn]

This is done in blatant violation of Colossians 2:16-17 “do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17). And again we are warned, “But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you” (Galatians 4:9-11). “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it” (Romans 14:5-6).

The Maryknoll Catholic Dictionary:

From all eternity Mary was chosen to be the Mother of the Word Incarnate. It is unthinkable that such a mother should have been defiled by sin for even a moment. Therefore, in the instant of her conception she was made immaculate.”[fn]Albert J. Nevins, M.M., ed., The Maryknoll Catholic Dictionary (New York: Dimension Books, 1965), p. 286. Nihil Obstat Rt. Rev. Msgr. James T. Clarke, Censor Librorum 11-27-64[/fn]

Note the faulty reasoning; a human minded preconceived notion leads to the dogma of the Immaculate Conception not because the Bible clearly teaches it but because it is unthinkable that Mary was defiled by sin for even a moment.

Non-Biblical Dogma:
Fr. Oscar Lukefahr wrote, “The Immaculate Conception is an example of Catholic doctrine that is not clearly taught in Scripture but which, congruent with Scripture, was believed universally by Catholics for centuries before it was formally defined as doctrine by the pope.”[fn]Fr. Oscar Lukefahr, C.M., Director of Catholic Home Study Services, one of America’s most popular interpreters of Catholic faith and the Bible, “We Believe…” A Survey of the Catholic Faith, Revised and Cross-Referenced to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Liguori, MO.: Liguori Publications, 1990), Imprimatur Potest: William A. Nugent, C.SS.R. Provincial, St. Louis Province, The Redemptorists, Imprimatur: Monsignor Maurice F. Byrne, Vice Chancellor, Archdiocese of St. Louis. p. 68[/fn]

Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. explains, “Without claiming that Scripture reveals the doctrine explicitly, he [Pope Pius IX] shows that the most common interpretation of the relevant texts by the ancient Fathers and current theologians sees in these texts an implicit teaching that Mary was conceived without sin.”[fn]Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.; a leading authority in his field, he is also a professor in the Institute for Advanced Studies in Catholic Doctrine, The Catholic Catechism, A Contemporary Catechism of the Teachings of the Catholic Church (New York: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1966) Nihil Obstat: Daniel V. Flynn, J.C.D., Censor Librorum. Imprimatur: James P. Mahoney, D.D. Vicar General Archdiocese of New York 12-13-74, p. 157[/fn]
“[Pope] Sixtus IV approved the feast and Mass of the Immaculate Conception in 1476.”[fn]Fr. John A. Hardon, p. 153[/fn]

Catholic Theologian Ludwig Ott wrote, “The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is not explicitly revealed in Scripture…The Bull ‘Ineffabilis’ approves of this messianic-marianic interpretation….The Bull does not give any authentic explanation of the passage. It must also be observed that the infallibility of the Papal doctrinal decision extends only to the dogma as such and not to the reasons given as leading up to the dogma.”[fn]Ludwig Ott; Roman Catholic Theologian, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Rockford, IL: Tan Book Publishers, 1974), p. 200[/fn]
Apparently faulty reasoning, faulty assumptions and faulty interpretations could lead to a divinely inspired infallible dogma. This is the exact point made by Christian theologian James White as he dialogued with Roman Catholic apologist Tim Staples. Tim Staples responds by stating, “You misrepresented Ott. Ott did not say the reasoning was wrong. Ott simply says, as the Catholic Church has always taught—it is the decree, it is what the Pope binds on earth, that is what is bound in heaven, and it’s the answer, it is not the reasoning leading up to it. That’s what Ott said.” James White states, “So in other words, you can misreason, you can misinterpret Scripture and yet, the end result allegedly will be infallible…” Tim Staples explains, “Do you know why James? Because Peter as he is walking on the water might shake and it might look like he is going down but Jesus is gonna reach His hand down and He’s not gonna let him go under.”[fn]Christian theologian James White and Roman Catholic apologist Tim Staples on The Bible Answer Man radio show. [/fn]

Another thing that Ott certainly did state is the following, “Mary gave birth in miraculous fashion without opening of the womb and injury to the hymen, and consequently also without pains.”[fn]Ludwig Ott, p. 205[/fn] Therefore, Mary is either not the woman of Revelation 12 or she is this woman but was not immaculately conceived.

Sinless but Saved?:
Fr. Oscar Lukefahr wrote, “the very fact that Mary is our Mother should help us realize what Vatican II taught explicitly—that Mary is one of us, a member of the Church, and one of those redeemed by Christ.”[fn]Fr. Oscar Lukefahr, p. 67[/fn]
If Mary was born without sin and sinless throughout her whole life, why is she being referred to as redeemed? The following quote will explain, “Some influential Catholic Christians expressed reservations about this doctrine, because it appeared to imply that Mary did not need Christ as her Savior. The church seemed to be caught in a dilemma: it did not seem correct that the mother of God was stained by sin, but it was necessary to believe that Mary had been redeemed from sin by Jesus Christ like everyone else.

Alan Schreck notes, “Even such a great figure as St. Thomas Aquinas could not fully accept the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception for this reason. Fr. Raymond Brown, S.S., explains…Duns Scotus was able to win the day because of his insight that the Immaculate Conception came through God’s application of the grace of Christ beforehand…she was the first Christian…the Lord applied the grace of Jesus’ salvation to Mary in advance to prepare her for her special role in his plan.”[fn]Alan Schreck; Associate Professor of theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, Catholic and Christian, An Explanation of Commonly Misunderstood Catholic Beliefs (Ann Arbor, MI.: Servant Books, 1984), Nihil Obstat: Monsignor Joseph P. Malara-Censor Librorum. Imprimatur: Most Reverend Albert H. Ottenweller-Bishop of Steubenville. pp. 178-179 quoting Fr. Raymond Brown, S.S., “Mary in the New Testament and in Catholic Life,” America, May 15, 1982, p. 378[/fn]

With regards to Catholic dogmas we often see, as we do here, that the dogmas are not justified by Scripture or history, but rather by lawyer like tactics of semantic, technicalities and loopholes. For example the Church realize that their devotees have been accepting a very questionable belief and so when it comes time for the church to make this belief an official teaching they come up with a loophole. Can you imagine such a scene, the elite of the Church stating, “Good job Duns Scotus, your brilliant technical loophole will go down in history as an inspired revelation from God! As well as the cause of damnation to hell for those who do not come to Church on the feast day (and are not forgiven for that mortal sin)!”
Please note that John Scotus Duns was a “FRANCISCAN philosopher and theologian who attempted to create a new synthesis of Christian belief with Greek and Arab philosophy.”[fn]Keith Crim, Gen. Ed., Abingdon Dictionary of Living Religions (Nashville, TN: The Parthenon Press, 1981), pp. 231-232[/fn]
Supposedly, Mary is not a saved sinner; she was saved from having ever sinned. Mary was saved from sin before she ever sinning, it was impossible for her to sin because she was born without a sin nature (original sin). Then she was not saved from sin, she did not sin and so she needs no savior, how could she need to be saved from sin she never committed? How could she be redeemed before she was in need of redemption?

Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. writes, “After the Fathers and up to the early Middle Ages we find explicit references to Mary’s freedom from sin from the moment of her life. Paschasius Radbertus (ninth century), for example, wrote that she was exempt from sin since the beginning of her existence. As early as the late half of the seventh century, a feast of the Immaculate Conception was celebrated annually in the East under the title ‘Conception of St. Anne.’ St. Andrew Crete (d. A.D. 720) composed a hymn with the inscription: ‘The Ninth Day of December, Conception of the Grandmother of God, St. Anne.’”[fn]Fr. John A. Hardon, p. 152 quoting Paschasius Radbertus, De Partu Virginis, 5, 7[/fn]
Mary is thought to have died in 48 AD[fn]Albert J. Nevins, p. 358[/fn] consider just how long after her death these teachings came to be. For more on this, see our article A Review of Marian Dogma and Apparition Chronology. Just because a belief is old, it does not make it true.

Pope Leo I wrote, “Alone therefore among the sons of men the Lord Jesus was born innocent, because alone conceived without pollution of carnal concupiscence.”[fn]Walter Burghardtm in Juniper B. Carol, ed., Mariology (Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Co., 1955), p. 1:146” quoted in James R. White, Mary—Another Redeemer? (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1998) p. 40[/fn]

Catholic Theologian Ludwig Ott wrote, “Neither the Greek nor the Latin Fathers explicitly teach the Immaculate Conception of Mary….individual Greek Fathers (e.g., Origen, Basil, John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria) taught that Mary suffered from venial personal faults, such as ambition and vanity.”[fn]Ludwig Ott, pp. 201, 203[/fn]


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