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Jan. 4, 2019 update: The Portuguese website “Observador” which originally carried the quotes from Bishop Oporto has now published clarifications from the bishop here. Rorate Caeli has translated and published the original quotes from the bishop here

VATICAN CITY, January 2, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – As Catholic faithful continue with Christmas celebrations, controversies have arisen over two statements, one from a bishop and the other from Pope Francis, that may contradict Marian Dogmas of the Catholic Church. 

In a Dec. 23  interview given to Portuguese new media, Bishop Manuel Linda of Oporto, Portugal, stated “we should never refer to the physical virginity of Mary.” 

“The Old Testament says many times that Jesus was to be born of a maiden, a daughter of Israel, who was simple, poor, and humble. But this is truly just a reference to the full devotion of this woman to God. The gift of being mother of God was given to Mary because she had an undivided heart. What matters is full giving of herself…” In explicit detail, he further stated. “There certainly are women with a ruptured hymen who are more virgin in the sense of full devotion to God than some with an intact hymen.”  

When the report of these statements hit the Portuguese press on Christmas Day, an almost immediate outcry from lay faithful in his diocese forced Bishop Linda to “clarify” his words. 

Evidence that the Dogma of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary has been held since the foundation of the Church. Catholic doctrine holds that Mary was a virgin before, during, and after Christ’s birth. Direct reference to it is found within the Lateran Council of 649 A.D. where it is stated that “Mary conceived ‘without any detriment to her virginity, which remained inviolate even after his [Jesus’] birth.’” To state anything other than this is in direct contradiction to the Catholic Faith.

Just days prior, Pope Francis—during his annual address to the families of Vatican Employees on December 21—suggested that Mary was not born a saint, but worked to “become” one. 

“Our Lady and Saint Joseph are full of joy: they look at the Child Jesus and they are happy because, after a thousand worries, they have accepted this gift of God, with so much faith and so much love,” he said. 

“They are ‘overflowing’ with holiness and therefore with joy. And you will tell me: of course! They are Our Lady and Saint Joseph! Yes, but let us not think it was easy for them: saints are not born, they become thus, and this is true for them too,” he added. 

Controversy has arisen with the pope’s last two sentences. 

The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary states that the “most Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege from Almighty God and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, was kept free of every stain of original sin.” Therefore, when Pope Pius IX declared, infallibly, the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the Church declared that Our Lady was conceived and born without sin.

In other words, Our Lady was, indeed, born a saint, albeit by a singular grace of God. 

Editor's note: Reprinted with permission of the author.