Okay that title is a little misleading, but I couldn’t resist. Yesterday, a secondary writer on Joel’s blog posted about attending mass on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (Check the comments – I think Joel might agree with what I’m saying here). Unfortunately, he appears to have gotten a poor sampling of Catholic beliefs about Mary. For many (I don’t say most because a significant number probably do not even care to think about things like this) Catholics, Christ is the starting point for everything that we believe about Mary, but for some Mary is as central and thus as problematic as Protestants claim.
Yet I did want to give a counter-perspective from someone who has been on both sides of the divide (I grew up Catholic, left for a while and have now returned … I guess the technical term for me is revert). Having been on both sides I would say that on the other end of the spectrum many Protestants, at least within the groups that I was a part, were so anti-Catholic in their perspective that Mary received virtually no attention at all. If she was shown even an the least amount of respect other than simply as a halfway decent person, it probably would have made some uneasy. I don’t think this is ideal either.
I guess the point that I am trying to make though is that there are always people on the fringes of a group. And, it is easy enough to look at those fringes and think that everyone in the other group thinks that way. But, I do not think that is a way forward. There are many Catholics who take a much more nuanced view of Mary. There are many Protestants who take a much more respectful and nuanced view of Mary. It is this way with any number of issues. So, we must be careful in whatever area we are studying not to take the fringe for the middle.
[For an example of Protestants and Catholics studying Mary together you might check out Mary in the New Testament.]