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 Thursday, a day in which those who follow the religion commemorate their belief that Mary was conceived without sin.
Jorge Bergoglio, also known as Pope Francis, made his fourth visit to the “Column of the Immaculate Conception” in the Piazza di Spagna to pay homage to Mary and to pray that she would give protection and blessings.
“O Mary, our immaculate mother, on your feast day I come to you. And I come not alone. I bring with me all those with whom your Son entrusted me in this city of Rome and in the entire world, that You may bless them and preserve them from harm,” he said, according to a transcription from Vatican Radio.
Bergoglio prayed specifically for those who are lonely, abandoned and unemployed, stating that mankind is in need of her “immaculateness” in reaching out to others.
“We thank you, O mother, because in showing yourself to us you free us of all stain of sin,” he said. “You remind us that what comes first is the grace of God, the love of Jesus Christ who gave his life for us, the strength of the Holy Spirit which renews all things.”
“Let us not give in to discouragement, but that trusting in your constant help, we engage ourselves fully in renewal of self, of this city and of the entire world,” Bergoglio concluded.
As previously reported, Catholics observe the supposed birth date of Mary on Sept. 8, known as the Feast of the Nativity, and also recognize the estimated day that she was conceived on Dec. 8, known as the Feast of Immaculate Conception.
The concept of the immaculate conception was declared by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854, who issued a proclamation ex cathedra claiming that it had been revealed to him by God that Mary was conceived without sin.
“We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the blessed virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful,” he said.
In 1857, Pius IX also had a statue dedicated in recognition of the doctrine—the very statue before which Bergoglio and all other Roman Catholic leaders have stood annually. The figure, which rests atop the Column of Immaculate Conception, was sculpted by Giuseppe Obici, and shows Mary stomping the head of a serpent.
But some state that the concept of the immaculate conception is unbiblical as it is not found in the Scriptures.
“Not only is Mary’s immaculate conception and her sinlessness not revealed in God’s inspired, infallible Word, it goes directly against the teaching of Scripture,” Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries told Christian News Network. “The Bible clearly states that the sin of Adam was spread to all his descendants, including Mary.”
He pointed to Romans 5:12, which reads, “[A]s by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” as well as Romans 3:10 and 23, which teach that “there is none righteous, no, not one,” and that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Gendron also noted that Mary acknowledged her need of the Savior from sin when she said in Luke 1:47, “My spirit rejoices in God, my Savior.”
He said that not only is the doctrine of immaculate conception unbiblical, but Bergoglio’s assertion that Mary “frees us from the stain of sin” is an affront to the gospel.
“He profanely attributed to Mary what Christ alone had accomplished on Calvary’s cross,” Gendron said. “The pope’s prayer robbed Christ of His glorious accomplishment of purifying for Himself a people for His own possession (Titus 2:14). It was Jesus who ‘made purification of sins’ and ‘sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high’ indicating His redemptive work was finished (Heb. 1:3).”
“The pope needs to stop exalting Mary as a sinless mediator and give all glory honor and praise to Jesus because it was His precious blood that purifies His people from ALL sin (1 John 1:7),” he stated.