ROME — The leader of Roman Catholicism, Jorge Bergoglio, also known as “Pope Francis,” observed the feast of “the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God” on New Year’s Day, urging followers to “entrust the new year to Mary.”
“Let us entrust the new year to Mary, Mother of God, so that peace and mercy may grow throughout the world,” he Tweeted on Sunday, generating over 33,000 likes and 11,000 shares.
The feast “coincides with the octave-day of Christmas” on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, and was initially the feast of the Circumcision of Christ until being replaced in 1974 by Pope John VI. The “mother of God” concept, however, can be traced back as early as the Council of Ephesus in 431.
“This celebration, assigned to January 1 in conformity with the ancient liturgy of the city of Rome, is meant to commemorate the part played by Mary in this mystery of salvation,” John XI wrote. “It is meant also to exalt the singular dignity which this mystery brings to the ‘holy mother … through whom we were found worthy … to receive the Author of life.'”
“It is likewise a fitting occasion for renewed adoration of the newborn Prince of Peace, for listening once more to the glad tidings of the angels, and for imploring from God, through the Queen of Peace, the supreme gift of peace,” he said. The day is also known as the “World Day of Peace” for this reason.
In addition to Tweeting in observance of the day on Sunday, Bergoglio also delivered a homily before the masses, outlining why he believes it is important to begin a new year in such a manner.
“To celebrate Mary as mother of God and our mother at the beginning of the new year means recalling a certainty that will accompany our days: we are a people with a mother; we are not orphans,” he said. “To begin the year by recalling God’s goodness in the maternal face of Mary, in the maternal face of the Church, in the faces of our own mothers, protects us from the corrosive disease of being ‘spiritual orphans.'”
Bergoglio asserted that Jesus gave Mary to the Church when he died upon the cross, and the Church should therefore invite her into their homes and communities, and “meet her maternal gaze.”
“Together let us all confess this truth,” he instructed, as all stood to their feet. “I invite you to acclaim it three times, standing, like the faithful of Ephesus: Holy Mother of God, Holy Mother of God, Holy Mother of God.”
Bergoglio has made similar declarations throughout his tenure, urging others each Jan. 1 to entrust the year to Mary.
But Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries in Plano, Texas, told Christian News Network that such practices are unbiblical and elevate Mary to a position not called for in the Word of God. Gendron is a former Roman Catholic of over 30 years.
“Pope Francis has elevated the ungodly traditions of Mary above Scripture. In doing so, he is doing the same thing the scribes and Pharisees did when they were rebuked by the Lord Jesus. Jesus told them that they were nullifying the Word of God and thus worshipping God in vain (Mark 7:7-13),” he said.
Gendron noted that the feast of “Mary, the Mother of God” is one among several on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar.
“The four dogmas of Mary’s perpetual virginity, her motherhood of God, her immaculate conception and her bodily assumption into heaven, form the basis of Mariology,” he outlined. “The development of Mariology is ongoing and continues to be shaped by the writings of Catholic mystics, papal statements and apparitions of Mary. Catholics are encouraged to venerate Mary and entrust their lives to her as their advocate and mediatrix of all graces.”
“Since veneration is a form of worship, Catholics who venerate Mary are committing the most serious sin of idolatry. Just as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, Catholics are being led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Cor. 11:3),” Gendron continued. “Catholics will continue to be led astray into idolatry until they submit to the Word of God as their supreme authority in all matters of faith. ”