Catholics & Episcopalians “Celebrate” Mary Together

(Remnant News Watch October 15, 2009)

Mark Alessio

Follow the Yellow Brick Road!

"Reverend" Gwynne Guibord (the gal in the middle) performs with

Frank T. Griswold III, the bearded former presiding "bishop" of the

Episcopal Church and Rt. Rev. Alexei Smith, ecumenical and

interreligious officer for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

(Posted 10/15/09
Southern California Roman Catholics and Episcopalians joined one another in “prayer and praise, music and reflection about the hope, courage, and freedom evoked by Mary, the mother of Jesus, during a solemn Evensong service September 20 at St. John's Pro-Cathedral near downtown Los Angeles,” reports Pat McCaughan of the Episcopal News Service (Sept. 21, 2009):

Fragrant incense filled the church as the Rt. Rev. Frank T. Griswold III, former presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, told about 150 worshippers that Mary continues to evoke hope because she "is creeping into places where she wasn't known before."

The Rev. Dr. Gwynne Guibord, ecumenical and interreligious officer for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, who organized the Sunday afternoon event, said she invited Griswold to preach because he had served as a co-chair of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) that crafted Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ, an agreed document on the place of Mary in the life and doctrine of the church, which included discussions of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption.

Dr. Guibord believes that such ecumenical and interreligious events allow Anglicans and Roman Catholics to "discover we have more in common than not. It's an opportunity for us to be together and envision what might be possible." The Rt. Rev. Alexei Smith, ecumenical and interreligious officer for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, described Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ, “an international agreement," and voiced his desire that both Catholic and Episcopal congregations will gather together to use the study guide which accompanies the ARCIC document.

Episcopal “bishop” Frank T. Griswold III stated that the meetings of the members of ARCIC (made up of Roman Catholic and Anglican clergy and laity) led to “new realizations” of the Immaculate Conception and the bodily assumption of Mary, which made Mary “less a remote figure and more a sister and friend" and more of a symbol of justice and empowerment for women and the oppressed.”

Comment:  An antiphon from The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin proclaims: “Rejoice, O Virgin Mary, you alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world.” This is not grandiose hyperbole, for Marian doctrines always defend the mysteries of her Divine Son. When the Church needed to defend the truth of the Hypostatic Union – that two natures (human and divine) are united in the one Person of Jesus Christ – she did so by defending Mary’s title, Theotokos (God-bearer, or Mother of God) at the Council of Ephesus (431 AD).

One cannot quibble with Protestants’ developing a greater interest in the Blessed Virgin. However, the danger in such an ecumenical endeavor is the demotion of the Catholic side to merely another “searcher for truth.” No, Catholics do not need “new realizations” of Marian doctrine, nor have they ever viewed the Queen of Heaven as “a remote figure.” If they are to remain true to Christ and to themselves, Catholics can act ONLY as mentors and teachers in the Protestants’ discovery of Mary. Catholics need no “ecumenical study guides,” for we wrote the book on the Mother of God.

A few examples from Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ highlight the problems with such an endeavor. The 2004 document was prepared by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), an organization founded in 1967 with the purpose of advancing ecumenical progress between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion by identifying “common ground” between the two.

A 1981 ARCIC document, Authority in the Church II, recognizes “the grace and unique vocation of Mary, Mother of God Incarnate,” and accepts that “it is possible to regard her as a prophetic figure of the Church of God before as well as after the Incarnation.” However, the document also states:

The dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption raise a special problem for those Anglicans who do not consider that the precise definitions given by these dogmas are sufficiently supported by Scripture. For many Anglicans the teaching authority of the bishop of Rome, independent of a council, is not recommended by the fact that through it these Marian doctrines were proclaimed as dogmas binding on all the faithful. Anglicans would also ask whether, in any future union between our two Churches, they would be required to subscribe to such dogmatic statements.

From the time of the Church Fathers until today, the greatest theologians have painstakingly explained how our Marian doctrines and dogmas are derived from Scripture, Tradition and Reason. If, today, Protestants can (or will) not examine these arguments in the light of two-millennia of study, what are we to do – thumb through ecumenical “study-guides?” Will that make the blinders suddenly fly off? The Protestant reaction to centuries of Catholic teaching on Mary can be summed up in the words spoken by Christ after He related the Parable of the Rich Man and the Beggar Lazarus: “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe, if one rise again from the dead.”

Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ offers the following speculations:

In the Late Middle Ages, scholastic theology grew increasingly apart from spirituality. Less and less rooted in scriptural exegesis, theologians relied on logical probability to establish their positions, and Nominalists speculated on what could be done by the absolute power and will of God …. One powerful impulse for Reformation in the early sixteenth century was a widespread reaction against devotional practices which approached Mary as a mediatrix alongside Christ, or sometimes even in his place. Such exaggerated devotions, in part inspired by presentations of Christ as inaccessible Judge as well as Redeemer, were sharply criticized by Erasmus and Thomas More and decisively rejected by the Reformers. Together with a radical re-reception of Scripture as the fundamental touchstone of divine revelation, there was a re-reception by the Reformers of the belief that Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and humanity. This entailed a rejection of real and perceived abuses surrounding devotion to Mary. It led also to the loss of some positive aspects of devotion and the diminution of her place in the life of the Church.

Protestants accusing Catholics of manufacturing theology to suit their whim? That is irony elevated to a preposterous level. The early Protestant leaders did NOT “re-receive” (whatever that is supposed to mean) Scripture as the “fundamental touchstone of divine revelation.” Luther rejected the Divine inspiration behind the Old Testament Books of Tobias, Ruth, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiastics, Job, Esther, Jonah, Maccabees, and the New Testament Epistles of St. James and St. Jude, The Epistle to the Hebrews, and St. John’s Apocalypse. To be more accurate, he despised these books. He also had no problem with deliberately mistranslating passages from The Epistle to the Romans (3:28) and The Acts of the Apostles (19:18).

Enough already with this idiocy about Protestantism “liberating” the Bible from the Catholic Church!

If a Protestant has trouble with Mary’s title, “Mediatrix of All Graces,” then he also has trouble with the Fathers, Doctors and Saints of the Church. It was St. Ephrem (Father of the Church, +373) who wrote, “I call upon you, Mediatrix of the world; I invoke your prompt protection in my necessities." Mary’s role as Mediatrix was praised by many learned and holy men, including such luminaries as St. John Damascene (Father of the Church, +787), St. Peter Damian (Doctor of the Church, +1072), St. Anselm (Doctor of the Church, +1109), St. Bernard (Doctor of the Church, +1153), St. Albert the Great (Doctor of the Church, +1280) and St. Thomas Aquinas (Doctor of the Church, +1274).

It is not as though the Marian doctrines of the Catholic Church were arcane things that had been jealously hidden! One can spend a lifetime studying the cornucopia of treatises, exegeses, homilies and hymns that have been written in honor of the Mother of God (and her titles, privileges and prerogatives) over the past two thousand years.

The sight of Catholic priests and layman pretending to be “searchers” for some elusive “Truth” that can only be found in a hybrid ecumenical consensus is a pathetic one. You would not go to a surgeon who proudly declared, “I may or may not understand your condition.” An astronaut does not rely on an engineer who “may or may not” be able to return him to earth. In short, if you have something the world needs, something good that can truly help mankind, you do not act coy about it! “Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house.”

The Queen of Heaven does not “creep” into places, like some shadowy outsider, “Reverend” Griswold. Let the Catholic members of ARCIC remember who and what they are. For them to deny Protestants the truth about Our Lady, for them to speak of her without conviction, is both to dishonor her Divine Son and treat their Protestant cohorts with a stunning lack of charity.



- Martyred Chinese Bishop Not Forgotten


- Ancient Coins Corroborate Biblical Account of Joseph



Want More News?

Mark Alessio's "Remnant News Watch" column appears in every issue of The Remnant

Subscribe to The Remnant! For more information, please click here