SANTIAGO, Chile — Jorge Bergoglio, the leader of Roman Catholicism who is also known as “Pope Francis,” placed a crown on the head of a statue of Mary during his visit to Chile on Tuesday.
The coronation took place during mass at O’Higgins Park in Santiago, where the tens of thousands in attendance watched Bergoglio place a crown on the head of the Christ child, and then also on the head of Mary. In Chile, the statue is known as “Our Lady of Mount Carmel,” who is also known by Roman Catholics in the country as the patron saint and “queen” of Chile.
“[T]he virgin who wanted to be called Your handmaid was chosen mother of the Redeemer, and true mother of all the living, and now exalted above the choirs of the angels, reigns gloriously with Your Son interceding for all men as an advocate of grace and queen of mercy,” he prayed during mass, moments before crowning the statue.
“Lord, look kindly upon these your servants, who by adorning with a visible crown the image of the mother of Your Son, recognize Your Son as King of the universe and invoke the virgin as queen,” Bergoglio said.
He “blessed” the crowns and was escorted to place them on the heads of the images. Bergoglio then stood before the statue, swinging a smoking censer of incense.
“I pray that Our Lady of Mount Carmel, mother and queen of Chile, will continue to accompany and bring to birth the dreams of this blessed nation,” Bergoglio said in a speech to Chilean authorities on the same day.
The Roman Catholic leader also spoke to Chilean youth on Wednesday at the Basilica of Our Lady of Carmel in Maipú, where he told those gathered that the “Our Lady of Carmel waits for you and welcomes you with an open heart.”
“Just as she accompanied the birth of this nation and has accompanied so many Chileans over the span of these two hundred years, so too she wants to keep accompanying the dreams that God places in your hearts: dreams of freedom, dreams of joy, dreams of a better future,” Bergoglio said. “Our Lady of Mount Carmel accompanies you so that you can be protagonists for the Chile of which your hearts dream.”
As part of his trip to South America, Bergoglio is scheduled to likewise travel to Peru, where, according to the Catholic site Aleteia, “the pope’s first Mass in Trujillo will be in honor of ‘Holy Mary, Door of Heaven.'”
“While he will not crown any statues here, the opening and closing prayers will be focused on Our Lady,” the outlet explains. “Later that same day he will lead a Marian celebration during which he will venerate Our Lady and a special litany will be sung in her honor. The litany that will be used was composed by Turibius of Mogrovejo, who was archbishop of Lima from 1579 to 1606.”
Even prior to his departure from Italy, Bergoglio visited the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, where he prayed before the image of Maria Salus Populi Romani to entrust his endeavor to Mary. Vatican News reports that he additionally placed a bouquet of flowers on the altar below the icon.
Bergoglio had also observed the annual feast day called “The Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God” on Jan. 1, claiming that “[d]evotion to Mary is not spiritual etiquette; it is a requirement of the Christian life.” The Jan. 1 observance is part of what is known as the Octave of Christmas.
“Looking to the Mother, we are asked to leave behind all sorts of useless baggage and to rediscover what really matters. The gift of the Mother, the gift of every mother and every woman, is most precious for the Church, for she too is mother and woman,” he stated. “… May the Mother, God’s finest human creation, guard and keep this year, and bring the peace of her Son to our hearts and to our world.”
While thousands attended the mass where Bergoglio crowned the Marian statue, Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries told Christian News Network that Catholics place an inordinate amount of emphasis on Mary, and wrongly ascribe attributes to her that only belong to God.
“The pope crowning of the statue of Mary continues Roman Catholicism’s fascination with ‘another’ Mary that has been given the title Queen of Heaven. The pope crowned a statue of Mary because she is said to be the queen over all things,” he said. “Mary holds a very exalted position in the Roman Catholic Church, so much so that she is venerated as a goddess. This is blasphemy because the Catholic Mary has been given divine attributes that only God possesses. The emphasis on Mary by Catholics robs Christ of His glory, honor and praise.”
Gendron, a former Roman Catholic of 30 years, pointed to the various doctrines about Mary as written in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other official writings.
“According to Roman Catholicism, Mary is ‘the all-holy ever-virgin Mother of God’ (CCC, 721), the ‘Queen over all things’ (CCC, 966), our ‘Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix’ (CCC, 969), who is ‘full of grace’ (CCC, 722), the ‘Mother of God and our mother’ (CCC, 2677), the ‘new Eve’ (CCC, 726), and the ‘seat of wisdom’ (CCC, 721),” he outlined.
Further, Catholic doctrine teaches that Mary “had no original sin (CCC, 508), and never committed sin (CCC, 493). She is second only to her Son (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, par. 66) and sits ‘on the right hand of the majesty on high’ (Pope Pius X, Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum, 14). In fact, ‘no man can go to Christ but by His Mother’ (Pope Leo 13th, Octobri Mense),” Gendron explained.
He likewise noted that the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that Mary “delivers our souls from death” (CCC, 966) and “continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation” (CCC, 969) through her intercession.
“It is not wonder Catholics exalt Mary so highly based on their religious tradition,” Gendron said. “Mary has no power to do what the pope thinks she can do. I would encourage Catholics to submit to the supreme authority of the Bible which tells us ‘not to exceed what is written’ (1 Cor. 4:6).”