ROME — In one of the feasts and celebrations marked on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar leading up to Christmas, Catholics around the world observed the Feast of Immaculate Conception on Monday, a day in which those who follow the religion commemorate their belief that Mary was born without sin.
The pontiff known as Pope Francis led Catholics in the annual observance of the holiday, delivering an Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square.
“Oh Mary, our mother, today the people of God in celebration venerates you, the immaculate, preserved from the contagion of sin from the beginning,” he prayed. “Accept the gift I offer on behalf of the church in Rome and throughout the whole world.”
“In this time that leads us to the feast of the birth of Jesus, teach us to go against the tide,” Francis continued. “The power of God’s love, which has preserved you from original sin, freed all of humanity through your intercession from every spiritual and material slavery and made the designs of God’s salvation victorious within hearts and events.”
According to the National Catholic Register, he also declared to the crowds gathered that in Mary “there was no room for sin,” because “God had chosen her to be the mother of Jesus,” which resulted in her being preserved from “original sin.”
The pontiff later venerated the Statue of the Immaculate Conception in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna and invited others to join him. The statue was created in 1857 as a mark of the Roman Catholic belief that Mary was conceived without sin.
“I ask you to spiritually unite yourselves to me in this pilgrimage, which expresses filial devotion to our heavenly mother,” he said.
Francis also visited the Basilica of St. Mary Major, where he venerated the statue known as the Salus Populi Romani.
The concept of the “immaculate conception” was declared by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1844, who issued a proclamation stating, “The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.”
But some state that the Roman Catholic holiday is unbiblical as there is no Scriptural basis to state that Mary was sinless, which is also noted in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
“We know from Scripture that Mary must have known she was a sinner who needed a Savior when she said, ‘My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior’ (Luke 1:47),” Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries told Christian News Network. “The infallible word of God declares that ‘all of sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Rom. 3:23). Mary was no exception. God’s word tells us that sin entered the world through Adam, ‘and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned’ (Rom. 5:12).”
“The doctrine of Mary’s pure conception without sin is pure heresy,” he continued, adding that Catholic doctrine not only teaches that Mary was sinless, but that she has power to save. “[The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)] teaches ‘Mary did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation.’ (CCC, para. 969). ‘The Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things. In giving birth, you kept your virginity. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.’ (CCC, para. 966).”
Gendron said that the CCC also instructs that Mary is ” to be praised with special devotion (CCC, para, 971) and that “[s]he was the cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race (CCC, para. 494).”
“The Catholic Church promises that all those who seek Mary’s protection will be saved for all eternity,” he stated.
Gendron, a former Roman Catholic who now leads a ministry to evangelize Catholics, stated that these teachings are unbiblical as the Scriptures give no veneration to Mary throughout her earthly life.
“These doctrines have robbed God of His glory and have resulted in Catholics showing greater devotion to Mary than to the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said. “When she appears with the other believers on the day of Pentecost, she’s not an object of worship or even a leader in the early church. There are no occasions of anyone ever praying to her, honoring her or venerating her. She is never mentioned in any presentation of the Gospel.”
“Jesus Christ alone is our Redeemer, Deliverer, Mediator and Advocate. He alone is to be worshiped, adored, honored and praised now and throughout all eternity!” Gendron declared. “May Catholics comes to their senses through repentance and faith in the only sinless Mediator!”