John Paul II Answers Rosary's Critics

A Devotion Directed to the Christological Center of the Faith

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2002 ( In his newest apostolic letter, John Paul II responds to the criticisms made against the rosary in some Catholic circles over the past four decades.

In No. 4 of “Rosarium Virginis Mariae” (The Rosary of the Virgin Mary), the Pope writes that there “are some who think that the centrality of the Liturgy, rightly stressed by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, necessarily entails giving less importance to the Rosary.”

“Yet, as Pope Paul VI made clear, not only does this prayer not conflict with the Liturgy, it sustains it, since it serves as an excellent introduction and a faithful echo of the Liturgy, enabling people to participate fully and interiorly in it and to reap its fruits in their daily lives,” the Holy Father says.

According to the Pope, others “fear that the Rosary is somehow unecumenical because of its distinctly Marian character.”

“Yet the Rosary clearly belongs to the kind of veneration of the Mother of God described by the Council: a devotion directed to the Christological center of the Christian faith, in such a way that when the Mother is honored, the Son … is duly known, loved and glorified,” the letter says.

“If properly revitalized, the Rosary is an aid and certainly not a hindrance to ecumenism!” the Pope stresses.

“But the most important reason for strongly encouraging the practice of the Rosary is that it represents a most effective means of fostering among the faithful that commitment to the contemplation of the Christian mystery,” John Paul II concludes in No. 5 of the apostolic letter.

“Inasmuch as contemporary culture, even amid so many indications to the contrary, has witnessed the flowering of a new call for spirituality, due also to the influence of other religions, it is more urgent than ever that our Christian communities should become ‘genuine schools of prayer,'” the Pope adds.

However, in order to understand the rosary in this way, the Pontiff told the pilgrims gathered today in St. Peter’s Square, it must be prayed “with devotion and not mechanically,” as a “meditation of the mysteries of the life and work of Christ.”

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