The Church is in crisis.

Whatever you make of specific accusations against Pope Francis or other clerics, there’s no question the sex abuse crisis is tearing the Church apart. What is the way forward?

As Robert P. George and others have pointed, the current crisis can be understood, at least in part, as a crisis of infidelity – unfaithfulness. Do Catholics – clergy and lay – really believe the Catholic faith? And are they really willing to adhere to it?

Given the significant number of clergy who have either engaged in gross sexual immorality or covered it up, it seems the answer for many is “no.”

Which is why Catholics need to start invoking this little-known title of Mary: Exterminatrix of All Heresies.

Catholics can sometimes get a bit too sentimental about Mary. Yes, she’s loving, warm, and embraces her children. But she’s also completely dedicated to their salvation. And like any good “mama bear,” that sometimes means she needs to fight.

This title appears to be based on the teaching of Pope St. Piux X. In his 1904 encyclical Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum, the saintly pope writes, “And thus once again is justified what the Church attributes to this august Virgin that she has exterminated all heresies in the world.” (Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum, 22)

Here are two iconic depictions of Mary fighting off demons (who lead souls astray with heresy) with a club:



So let us invoke the help of the Blessed Mother, and, like her, fight for truth and holiness in the Church.

As Bp. Robert Barron recently said about the scandals, “This is not the moment to abandon the Church. This is the moment to fight for the Church.


Mary, Exterminatrix of All Heresies, pray for us!

[See also: The Reason Why We Have Scandal in the Church: A Brave Priest’s Powerful Message]

[See also: “In the Midst of Crisis”: Call for a Living Rosary for the Church]

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