I know I shouldn’t rise to the bait of swapping proof texts with Protestants, but I do find it curious how, for being so Bible based and knowledgeable about the Bible they so often miss the obvious.

Joe Hippo–who is quite an indignant ex Catholic–asks where in Scripture we find support for the monarchical papacy. He doesn’t like what he sees as pretension and pomp of the papacy. I know Joe won’t accept this verse, but it seems perfectly fine to me if the pope, bishops and priests assume the signs of royalty for we are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (2 Pt. 5:9)

The royal priesthood is one of service and sacrifice, and when Popes grasped at secular power or when priests and prelates exercise their power oppressively and fall into corruption they betray their high royal calling. Of course, these faults are not limited to Catholic clergy. We can all think of Anglican bishops who love their palaces, chauffeur driven cars and trappings office a bit too much, not to mention the televangelists with their fleet of Bentleys and huge bank accounts. Nevertheless, abuses should not undo right uses.

Joe also asks for Biblical evidence for the pious opinion that the Blessed Virgin Mary is co-redemptrix. I should remind readers that this is not Catholic dogma, but a theological opinion. However, there is Biblical support for the view in Luke 2:34-35, “Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against,so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

First of all, notice that Simeon is a prophet. He is foretelling the future, and in the Jewish prophetic tradition the prophet not only has power to foretell future events, but the events often have a theological and salvific importance. Simeon foresees Christ’s redemptive work “the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed” . When does this happen? At the cross when Christ’s own heart is pierced by a spear. He sees that Mary will share in this redemptive action for her own heart will be pierced also.

The idea that Mary is co-redemptrix is simply the belief that, by virtue of being the Mother of the Redeemer, she has an inextricable link with all that he is and does–Simeon’s prophecy recognizes this–and that this mysterious link also binds her to the saving work of her son. That we can share in the full and sufficient sacrifice of Christ and his redemptive work is shown in St Paul’s acceptance that his own suffering ‘completes the work of Christ on the cross.’ (Col. 1:24) This is only the outworking of Christ’s own command that we should do just this: “If any man would be my disciple let him take up his cross and follow me.” If St Paul shared in the redemptive work of Christ through his suffering, all the more should the Blessed Mother for her link with Christ is the most intimate–and she points the way to a sharing in the redemptive work of Christ that we are all called to.

I don’t suppose for a moment that these proof texts and explanations will make Joe Hippo scamper off to confession to be reconciled to the church–he will simply dismiss them and explain them away (as he did the Biblical support for apostolic tradition) but at least they show that Catholic doctrines and practices are not quite the foolish fabrications that some Protestants would like to make out.