"The invocation of Mary under various titles like 'Mother of God' and 'Help of Christians' reinforces Mary's role in the mystery of salvation," Dr. Fastiggi noted.
Unfortunately, Dr. Fastiggi said, many Catholics are unaware of the recognition that the title "Co-Redemptrix" has already received so much informal recognition from the magisterium.
"Some are even under the impression that we are not allowed to call Mary 'Co-Redemptrix'-even though two popes, namely Pius XI (3 times) and St. John Paul II (at least 6 times), have publicly referred to Mary as 'Co-Redemptrix,'" he said.
And while there are concerns that the title could further confuse Protestants and others who disagree with Catholic teaching on Mary, Dr. Fastiggi believes a formal recognition of the title would actually help with further clarification.
"A formal papal statement would also serve the cause of ecumenism because it would help other Christians know that the Catholic Church clearly distinguishes between the saving work of Christ as the one Savior and Mediator (1 Tim 2: 5–6) and the Blessed Mother's secondary, dependent but utterly unique cooperation with Christ in the work of redemption and the mediation of grace," he said.
In a press release announcing the request, the International Marian Association said: "We believe that a public acknowledgement of Mary's true and continuous role with Jesus in the saving work of Redemption would justly celebrate the role of humanity in God's saving plan; foster greater devotion to the Mother of God; and lead to the release of historic graces through an even more powerful exercise of Our Lady's maternal roles of intercession for the Church and for all humanity today."
While the request could lead to a new Marian dogma, Dr. Fastiggi said the Association would likely be happy with any form of formal papal recognition of the title.
"The members of Association realize that it's up to the Holy Spirit to guide the Holy Father with regard to this petition. In this regard, prayer and trust are essential," he said.
"We trust in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Father, and the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is our spiritual Mother. May God's will be done."
This article was originally published on CNA Jan. 29, 2017.
Mary Farrow worked as a staff writer for Catholic News Agency until 2020. She has a degree in journalism and English education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.