This should not come as a shock. The Roman Catholic Church has long held the belief that Mary was, and is, someone who can change God’s mind. Their view of Mary is clearly expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In Article 9, section 6, paragraphs 966-969, it says:
966 “Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.” The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians: In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.
967 By her complete adherence to the Father’s will, to his Son’s redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church’s model of faith and charity. Thus she is a “preeminent and . . . wholly unique member of the Church”; indeed, she is the “exemplary realization” (typus) of the Church.
968 Her role in relation to the Church and to all humanity goes still further. “In a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace.”
969 “This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.”
In the Roman Catholic works-based merit system, one is in desperate need of receiving more and more grace in their life, and the best way to do that is not primarily through works (though a major part of it), but through prayers to those who had extra grace to spare. That’s why most of the prayers that Roman Catholics are encouraged to make are not to the Father or Jesus, but to saints and, particularly, Mary. For every one prayer directed to the Father, some say that Catholics are directed to pray 10 Hail Mary’s. That’s a ten to one ratio.
The reasoning behind it is simple. Aren’t you much more likely to do something if you are asked to do it by someone you love? Why in the world would Jesus give you what you want? Isn’t He more likely to do it if a saint, who earned his love, asks Him on your behalf? On top of that, isn’t He more likely to grant you your request if His mother asks Him for you?
Of course, this is wrong so why does this matter to Christians?
What the Pope says doesn’t affect our view of Scripture or of false religions. So, we shouldn’t be surprised when he comes out and says controversial and unbiblical things. It always bothers me when pastors seem to get alarmed over what the pope has said as if he holds any sway in what the church actually believes. The only reason why we should pay attention and be informed is so that we can be better equipped to share the Gospel with those around us who are caught in this false religion.
It is important for us to realize that millions of Roman Catholics are lifting up prayers to Mary on a daily basis. But she is not listening to them. They are desperate for God to work in their lives, but they are trained to go to all the wrong sources in order to get His attention. Whether it is through their confession, or through their prayer life, Roman Catholics are ultimately discouraged from going directly to God in prayer. This leads to a distant God who is unable to directly provide for them, or even unwilling to provide them with everything that they need.
Of course, the greatest issue is the fact that, ultimately this produces apathy towards God’s Word, and leads individuals to never meet the Holy God that will righteously cast them to hell for their sin. They are in desperate need to be confronted with the Bible, to approach the throne of God individually, and repent to Him alone for their sin. They then need to trust in Jesus who alone can satisfy God’s wrath on their behalf. We must understand that the exaltation of Mary, saints, and priests causes Jesus to become less important to them and, therefore, unable to satisfy God’s wrath once and for all.
We must always remember that convincing people that Mary wasn’t taken up into Heaven, or that she wasn’t a perpetual virgin, or that she doesn’t actually influence God, isn’t the goal! There are plenty of people in Hell who didn’t believe any of that. We must, instead, get to the Gospel, explain the Bible, and call people to submit to Christ and His Word, and the rest will follow!