ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE TEACHERS AND STUDENTS OF THE
PONTIFICAL THEOLOGICAL FACULTY "MARIANUM", ROME
Paul VI Audience Hall
Saturday, 24 October 2020
Dear brothers and sisters ,
I greet you and congratulate you on the 70th anniversary of the foundation of your Theological Faculty! Thank you, Father Chancellor, for your kind words. The Marianum , from its birth, has been entrusted to the care of the Servants of Mary. I therefore wish each of you to live the service following the example of Mary, "the handmaid of the Lord" ( Lk 1:38). A Marian style, a style that will benefit theology, the Church and you so much.
We could ask ourselves: does Mariology serve the Church and the world today? Obviously the answer is yes. Going to school with Mary is going to a school of faith and life. She, a teacher because she is a disciple, teaches well the alphabet of human and Christian life. But there is also another aspect, linked to today. We live in the time of the Second Vatican Council . No other Council in history has given Mariology as much space as that dedicated to it by chapter VIII of Lumen Gentium , which concludes and in a certain sense summarizes the entire dogmatic Constitution on the Church. This tells us that the times we live in are the times of Mary . But we need to rediscover Our Lady from the perspective of the Council . Just as the Council brought to light the beauty of the Church by returning to the sources and removing the dust that had deposited on it over the centuries, so the wonders of Mary can be better rediscovered by going to the heart of her mystery. There two elements emerge, well highlighted by Scripture: she is mother and woman. The Church is also mother and woman.
Mother . Recognized by Elizabeth as "mother of the Lord" (v. 43), the Theotokos is also the mother of all of us. In fact, to the disciple John, and in him to each of us, the Lord on the cross said: "Behold your mother!" ( Jn 19:27). Jesus, in that saving hour, was giving us his life and his Spirit; and he did not let his work be accomplished without giving us Our Lady, because he wants us to walk in life with a mother, indeed with the best of mothers (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangellii gaudium , 285). St. Francis of Assisi loved her precisely because she was a mother. It has been written of him that "he surrounded the Mother of the Lord Jesus with unspeakable love, for the fact that she made our brother the Lord of Majesty" (St. Bonaventure, Legenda major , 9.3: FF 1165). Our Lady made God our brother and as a mother she can make the Church and the world more fraternal.
The Church needs to rediscover her maternal heart, which beats for unity; but our Earth also needs it, to return to being the home of all its children. Our Lady desires it, "she wants to give birth to a new world, where we are all brothers, where there is a place for every discarded part of our societies" (Encyclical Letter Fratelli tutti , 278). We need motherhood, one who generates and regenerates life with tenderness, because only gift, care and sharing hold the human family together. We think the world without mothers
, : did not happen. Profits and profits, alone, do not give a future, on the contrary at times they increase inequalities and injustices. Mothers, on the other hand, make each child feel at home and give hope.
The Marianum is therefore called to be a fraternal institution, not only through the beautiful family atmosphere that distinguishes you, but also by opening up new possibilities for collaboration with other institutes, which will help to broaden horizons and keep up with the times. Sometimes there is fear of opening up, thinking of losing one's own specificities, but when one gets involved in giving life and generating the future, one is not mistaken, because one acts like mothers. And Mary is a mother who teaches the art of meeting and walking together. It is beautiful then that, as in a large family, different theological and spiritual traditions converge in the Marianum , which also contribute to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.
Our Lady - this is the other essential element - is a woman . Perhaps the oldest Mariological data in the New Testament says that the Savior was "born of a woman" ( Gal 4: 4). In the Gospel, then, Mary is the woman, the new Eve, who intervenes for our salvation from Cana to Calvary (cf. Jn 2 : 4; 19:26). Finally, it is the woman clothed with the sun who takes care of the descendants of Jesus (cf. Rev 12:17). As the mother makes a family of the Church, so the woman makes us a people. It is no coincidence that popular piety draws on the Madonna naturally. It is important that Mariology follows it carefully, promotes it, sometimes purifies it, always remaining attentive to the "signs of the Marian times" that run through our age.
Among these, there is precisely the role of woman: essential for the history of salvation, it can only be for the Church and for the world. But how many women do not receive the dignity due to them! The woman, who brought God into the world, must be able to bring his gifts into history. We need his ingenuity and his style. Theology needs it, so that it is not abstract and conceptual, but delicate, narrative, vital. Mariology, in particular, can contribute to bringing into culture, also through art and poetry, the beauty that humanizes and instills hope. And it is called to seek more worthy spaces for women in the Church, starting with the common baptismal dignity. Because the Church, as I said, is a woman. Like Mary, she is a mother, like Mary.
Father Rupnik made a picture, which appears to be a picture of Our Lady, and it is not. It seems that the Madonna is in the foreground, and instead the message is: the Madonna is not in the foreground. She receives Jesus, and with her hands, like steps, she brings him down. It is the synkatabasis of Christ through Our Lady: condescension. And Christ presents himself as a child but Lord, with the Law in his hand. But also as a child of a woman, weak, clinging to the mantle of the Madonna. This work of Father Rupnik is really a message. And who is Mary for us? She who, for each of us, brings Christ down: Christ the fullness of God, Christ the man who made himself weak for us. Christ the man who became weak for us. We see Our Lady like this: She who makes Christ enter, who makes Christ pass, who gave birth to Christ, and always remains a woman. It's that simple ... And we ask that Our Lady bless us. I will now give the blessing to all of you, asking that we may always have that spirit of children and brothers in us. Children of Mary, children of the Church, brothers among us.