Question: I have wondered about the "Queen of Heaven" (Jeremiah 44) that the people of Judah were burning incense to. Who was this "Queen" they were venerating? I wonder if they were putting her ahead of God? [TBC: Attached to this question was an article from a Catholic apologist disavowing any connection to Mary as the Queen of Heaven.]
Response: Catholic apologists point out that the Jews (Jer 44) were worshiping a pagan goddess, while the Catholic catechism speaks of only venerating Mary. Yet the veneration of Mary, according to the Catholic Church, is termed hyperdulia. It is a special veneration of Mary as the holiest of creatures (merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hyperdulia). Catholic apologists will insist that no worship of Mary is performed, though millions of Catholics believe the apparition of Mary at Fatima who promised, "The soul which recommends itself to Me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish" (Number 5 of "The 15 Promises of Our Lady to Christians Who Recite the Rosary," Our Lady of Fatima Online). Consequently, millions of Catholics are simultaneously praying to and venerating Mary, something that should only be accorded to deity.
Ignoring this, following the May 13, 1981, assassination attempt, Pope John Paul II was not praying to God or calling on the name of Jesus during the ambulance ride. Instead, he repeated over and over, "Mary, my mother!" (James McCarthy, The Gospel According to Rome, pp. 181-84; 199-200).
Though not "official" Catholic doctrine, the Vatican declared Alfonsus de Liguori(1696-1787) a "saint" and a "doctor of the Church." This founder of the Marianist movement and author of The Glories of Mary declared that there is no salvation outside of Mary (William Webster, The Church of Rome at the Bar of History, p. 87). Catholic apologists would say that his views are extreme and not representative of Catholic Church teaching, yet Pope Pius IX said, "Our salvation is based upon the holy Virgin...so that if there is any hope and spiritual healing for us, we receive it solely and uniquely from her" ("The Encyclical of February 2, 1849," cited in Donald G. Bloesch, Essentials of Evangelical Theology, Vol. 1, page 196).
Although many Catholic apologists deny that Mary is treated as deity, the Catholic catechism states, "God has exalted Mary in heavenly glory as Queen of Heaven and earth" (Catechism 966). "She is to be praised with special devotion" (Catechism 971, 2675).
We have reported on the move to make Mary "Co-Redemptrix" with Christ. The latest figures we have seen cite 550 bishops, 43 cardinals, and nearly 7 million ordinary faithful from 157 countries in 6 continents who have signed petitions urging the pope to proclaim, as the Fifth Marian dogma, Mary as "Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate." (http://www.all-about-the-virgin-mary.com/coredemptrix.html). Though saying that this position is not equal with deity, they nevertheless admit that "Coredemptrix, therefore, literally means 'the woman who buys back with,'" clearly assigning Mary a role in redemption beyond simply being the mother of the earthly Jesus (Ibid.). This echoes the Douay (Catholic version of the Bible) translation of Genesis:3:15, which reads, "I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel."
It is instructive to consider the response of Jesus when someone exalted His earthly mother. Jesus replied, "Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it" (Lk 11:28).