Pope Francis, one of the most politically controversial pontiffs in history, has always maintained a strong and traditional devotion to Mary. In his “Decree on the celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of the Church in the General Roman Calendar”, he writes;
"The joyous veneration given to the Mother of God by the contemporary Church, in light of reflection on the mystery of Christ and on his nature, cannot ignore the figure of a woman (cf. Gal 4:4), the Virgin Mary, who is both the Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church. . . This celebration will help us to remember that growth in the Christian life must be anchored to the Mystery of the Cross, to the oblation of Christ in the Eucharistic Banquet and to the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Redeemed, the Virgin who makes her offering to God."
The liturgical celebration, B. Mariæ Virginis, Ecclesiæ Matris, will be celebrated annually as a Memorial on the day after Pentecost. Cardinal Robert Sarah, its Prefect, said the Pope’s decision took account of the tradition surrounding the devotion to Mary as Mother of the Church. The decree reflects on the history of Marian theology in the Church’s liturgical tradition and the writings of the Church Fathers. It says Saint Augustine and Pope Saint Leo the Great both reflected on the Virgin Mary’s importance in the mystery of Christ. “In fact, the former [St. Augustine] says that Mary is the mother of the members of Christ, because with charity she cooperated in the rebirth of the faithful into the Church, while the latter [St. Leo the Great] says that the birth of the Head is also the birth of the body, thus indicating that Mary is at once Mother of Christ, the Son of God, and mother of the members of his Mystical Body, which is the Church.” The decree says these reflections are a result of the “divine motherhood of Mary and from her intimate union in the work of the Redeemer”.
Then, in the Holy Year of Reconciliation in 1975, the Church inserted into the Roman Missal a votive Mass in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. With the present decree, Pope Francis inserts that celebration into the universal Church’s liturgy as a Memorial on a fixed date.
The Congregation for Divine Worship has published the official liturgical texts in Latin. Translations, the decree states, are to be prepared and approved by local Bishops’ Conferences before being confirmed by the Congregation.
This follows Pope Paul VI, in 1964, declaring the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of the Church, noting that "the entire Christian people has always and increasingly honored the Mother of God with this most sweet name." A more and more important place was given to this title, by different means: votive mass, an option to add the invocation of this title in the Litanies..
In 2021, Pope Francis sent a message, in celebration of the Nativity of Mary, which read;
“The true joy that comes from the Lord always gives space to the voices of the forgotten, so that together with them we can build a better future. . . “Mary, in the beauty of following the Gospel and in her service to the common good of humanity and the planet, always teaches us to listen to these voices, and she herself becomes the voice of the voiceless.. . . The mystery enclosed in the person of Mary is the very mystery of the Word of God incarnate,”
Pope Francis quoted Benedict XVI’s apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini, in which the pope emeritus encouraged scholars to study the relationship between Mariology and the theology of the Word.
“We see how at home Mary is with the word of God, with ease she moves in and out of it. She speaks and thinks with the word of God; the word of God becomes her word, and her word issues from the Word of God. Here we see how her thoughts are attuned to the thoughts of God, how her will is one with the will of God,” he said, quoting Benedict.
Mary, like any mother, is our model in faith. She represents the Church and protects the Church and those who love her. In her was the culmination of the Israel from the Old Covenant and the birth of the embodiment of the New Covenant. As she was the mother of Jesus, so, too, should she be seen as the mother of the Church.