CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 10, 2012 ( Benedict XVI on Saturday recalled the debate he witnessed at the Second Vatican Council over how to include Our Lady in the Council discussions.

The Pope shared his memory of the Council with participants in the 23rd International Mariological Congress, who had an audience with the Holy Father at Castel Gandolfo.

The theme of the Mariological Congress was "Mariology since Vatican Council II: reception, outcomes and prospects."

Benedict noted his participation in the Council as a young theologian.

"In the second session of the Council a large group of the fathers asked that Our Lady be treated in the constitution on the Church [Lumen Gentium], while a group of similar size supported the necessity of a specific document that adequately shed light on the dignity, the privileges and the singular role of Mary in the redemption wrought by Christ."

The Pope recalled the vote of Oct. 23, 1963, in which it was decided to include a chapter on Mary in Lumen Gentium.

In this chapter, he said, "the figure of Mary – reinterpreted and reproposed in the context of the Word of God, the texts of the patristic and liturgical traditions, as well as a broad theological and spiritual reflection – appears in all of its beauty and singularity, well inserted in the fundamental mysteries of the Christian faith."

"Mary, whose faith is the focus, is situated in the mystery of the love and communion of the Most Holy Trinity; her cooperation in the divine plan of salvation and in the unique mediation of Christ is clearly affirmed and properly highlighted, making it thereby a model and point of reference for the Church, who recognizes herself, her vocation and her mission in Mary."

Thus, the Holy Father reflected, popular piety is in the end nourished by biblical and patristic references. 

"Naturally," he continued, "the conciliar text does not exhaust all the issues connected with the figure of the Mother of God, but it constitutes the essential hermeneutic horizon for every subsequent reflection of a theological or more purely spiritual or pastoral character. Moreover, it represents a precious point of balance that is always necessary between theological rationality and believing affectivity. 

"The singular figure of the Mother of God must be developed and studied from diverse and complimentary perspectives: while the 'via veritas' (way of truth) is always valid, we must not forsake the 'via pulchritudinis' (way of beauty) and the 'via amoris' (way of love) to discover and contemplate still more profoundly Mary’s crystalline and solid faith, her love for God, her indestructible hope."

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