Pope institutes new celebration of Mary, Mother of Church

Pope Francis inserts the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, into the Roman Calendar on the Monday following Pentecost Sunday.

Pope Francis has decreed that the ancient devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Mother of the Church, be inserted into the Roman Calendar.

The liturgical celebration, B. Mariæ Virginis, Ecclesiæ Matris, will be celebrated annually as a Memorial on the day after Pentecost.

In a decree released on Saturday by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Robert Sarah, its Prefect, said the Pope’s decision took account of the tradition surrounding the devotion to Mary as Mother of the Church.

He said the Holy Father wishes to promote this devotion in order to “encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety”.

‘Mother of the Church’ in tradition

The decree reflects on the history of Marian theology in the Church’s liturgical tradition and the writings of the Church Fathers.

It says Saint Augustine and Pope Saint Leo the Great both reflected on the Virgin Mary’s importance in the mystery of Christ.

“In fact the former [St. Augustine] says that Mary is the mother of the members of Christ, because with charity she cooperated in the rebirth of the faithful into the Church, while the latter [St. Leo the Great] says that the birth of the Head is also the birth of the body, thus indicating that Mary is at once Mother of Christ, the Son of God, and mother of the members of his Mystical Body, which is the Church.”

The decree says these reflections are a result of the “divine motherhood of Mary and from her intimate union in the work of the Redeemer”.

Scripture, the decree says, depicts Mary at the foot of the Cross (cf. Jn 19:25). There she became the Mother of the Church when she “accepted her Son’s testament of love and welcomed all people in the person of the beloved disciple as sons and daughters to be reborn unto life eternal.”

In 1964, the decree says, Pope Paul VI “declared the Blessed Virgin Mary as ‘Mother of the Church, that is to say of all Christian people, the faithful as well as the pastors, who call her the most loving Mother’ and established that ‘the Mother of God should be further honoured and invoked by the entire Christian people by this tenderest of titles’”.

‘Votive Mass now made a fixed celebration

Then, in the Holy Year of Reconciliation in 1975, the Church inserted into the Roman Missal a votive Mass in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.

With the present decree, Pope Francis inserts that celebration into the universal Church’s liturgy as a Memorial on a fixed date.

The Congregation for Divine Worship has published the official liturgical texts in Latin. Translations, the decree states, are to be prepared and approved by local Bishops’ Conferences before being confirmed by the Congregation. 1

Pope Francis Wants Reform: 45 Day Annulments

Pope Francis has announced a reform aimed at the simplification and better speed up of the annulment procedures of a Catholic marriage. The reforms call for the annulment process to be carried out within 45 days.

The new process will directly involve bishops in cases where both sides request an annulment or where with the existing evidence does not need a lengthy investigation.

In his document, the Pontiff said that marriage union will remain forever, and the aim of the new regulations is not intended to weaken it. He said the reform is intended to speed up and simplify the process, and justice is made with believers.

Another reform includes the removal of the automatic appeal after the first decision. Appeals will still be possible but will not remain automatic.

The new regulations will also lead to a cut in many of the expenses involved in the annulment process. Expenses are one of the main reasons that keep many Catholics from resorting to apply for an annulment. 2

[Editor's Note] These reforms have been implemented in the Diocese of Phoenix. The firstis known as the “Bishop’s Process” or the “Briefer Process.” These cases are still filed at the parish level and the Tribunal evaluates the petition to see if it meets the requirements for the abbreviated process. The testimony of witnesses is still required.