11-Sep-2000 -- ZENIT News Agency


Fr. Stefano De Fiores Presents Forthcoming Marian-Mariological Congress

ROME, (ZENIT.org).- John Paul II will consecrate humanity of the new millennium to the Virgin Mary of Fatima on October 8. This event will be preceded by an international Marian-Mariological Congress, which will begin on September 15. The meeting will end in St. Peter's Square with a great concelebrated Mass, presided over by John Paul II on Sunday, September 24, the special Jubilee of all those working in shrines throughout the world.

The Congress, which will focus on the topic "Mary and the Mystery of the Trinity," was organized by the Pontifical International Marian Academy. Following is an interview with Fr. De Fiores, a De Montfort religious and member of the Academy, who commented on the significance of this international meeting.

-- Fr. De Fiores: These international congresses, which were started by Fr. Carlo Bali in 1950, attempt to promote a true and profound study of the Virgin Mary and her mission in the mystery of Christ and the Church, as Vatican Council II was to confirmed later. These meetings are far-reaching because, as is the case this year, they include 190 conferences on specific topics, which should help theologians and Mariologists in their subsequent work.

-- ZENIT: Why is the Congress called Marian-Mariological?

-- Fr. De Fiores: It suffers from a distinction that today has come into disuse. Franciscan Croatian Fr. Bali's intention was to specify the purpose of the study of the figure of the Virgin, the Mariological aspect, but, at the same time, he did not want to ignore the pastoral dimension, the Marian aspect. In general, two congresses have been held, one Mariological and the other Marian. However, now they have been unified, and the term "Marian-Mariological" is used. The reason for this unification is the hope that in these two Congresses the study of the Virgin will become a doxology and praise of the Virgin Mary and, through her, of the Holy Trinity.

-- ZENIT: What is the theme of the Congress?

-- Fr. De Fiores: Specifically this: the mystery of Mary and the Trinity. Above all, let us note that we start with the mystery of the Trinity, which must be ever more known and lived among the People of God, because theologians on the whole are pessimistic and negative as regards the Trinitarian experience of the People of God. They say that, in general, we rather confuse the persons and do not think of them directly. Therefore, we cannot see Mary, especially the Annunciation, without first thinking of the persons of the Trinity: it is the Most High who sends the Archangel Gabriel, and it is the Son of the Most High who is born in humanity by the power of the Holy Spirit. Hence, Mary is an open window to the great and most high mystery of the Trinity.

-- ZENIT: What will participation in the Congress and its development be like?

-- Fr. De Fiores: The participation will be really very great. Not only will plenary conferences be held in the mornings, which will include speakers of various Christian denominations, in order to point out the purpose of this great subject of universal reach in the local Churches, that is, of Mary and the Trinity, but there will be at least 11 special linguistic sessions, which this time will not just include the Mariological associations of France, Italy, and Spain, but also the sections of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. There will really be a great exchange at the universal level through the contribution of several Mariological societies spread around the world. 36 countries will be represented, with a total of 193 speakers and conference leaders.

-- ZENIT: What is the situation at present on the Mariological plane and on Marian devotion?

-- Fr. De Fiores: The words that, to a certain extent, summarize the study of Mariology at present are "construction work." Everything is under construction. Why? Because the development given by Vatican Council II, which has inscribed Mary in the mystery of Christ and the Church, continues, with great attention to the historical-salvific dimension of Mariology, not with many abstractions, but starting from the concrete of the history of salvation. Under the impulse of "Marialis Cultus," Mariology must now open to cultures and anthropological dimensions, in such a way that the figure of Mary will be significant for our time and for different cultures. There is great, systematic determination at the level of study, and we can say that Italy has the role of an engine because, through the magazine "Theotokos," it carries out an interdisciplinary discussion that is much appreciated throughout the world. At the devotional level, we can certainly say that the people continues with their devotion to Mary, seeing the Virgin as a living "you," who can be addressed especially in times of difficulty suffering, and anguish. We see this every day in pilgrimages, which are increasing instead than decreasing, as predicted by those who saw an eclipse of the sacred. However, some perspectives, such as "Marialis Cultus," which takes Mary as a model of the Church when it celebrates and lives the divine mysteries, namely, the Virgin as listening, praying, offering, and Mothering, are still difficult for the People of God to assume. There is still another road that must be travelled, and we hope that both the Jubilee and this great Mariological Congress will open the hearts of all the faithful toward more intense devotion to Mary, expressing it, at the same time, in Trinitarian adoration of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Presents of God ministry