by Vergilius Preath Raj
(Coimbatore, TN, India)
QUESTION: What are the Catholic views about Idol Worship? We have an idol at house of Lord Jesus Christ on the Holy Cross and also one of Mother Mary and we also have a procession in our church carrying the idol of Mother Mary on September 8, annually celebrating Mother's feast. Few people from other sects of Christianity say that idol worship is sin and that it is written in the Bible. I am confused about this. Please guide me.
ANSWER: "Idol worship" is when we give worship that is due to God alone to other people or objects. God alone deserves worship.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew people were once guilty of idol worship when they adored/worshipped a statue of a golden calf.
This does not mean, however, that we Catholics cannot give due respect and veneration to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints. We Catholics venerate and honor Mary - not worship her.
When a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the saints, are displayed in Church, or are carried in a procession, it is meant to remind Catholics to respect the Mother of God - in the same way that Jesus respected her.
We do NOT in any way worship Mary, or the statues that represent her. It is the same as when you carry the picture of your loved one (for example, your husband, wife, or children) in your wallet. Do you worship your husband, wife or children? Of course not. The picture only serves to REMIND you of your loved ones.
It is the same with statues of the Virgin Mary and the saints. These serve to simply REMIND us of Mary, and encourage us to venerate and honor her - not to worship her.
You only commit the sin of "idol worship" when you mistakenly consider Mary, or any of the saints, as a God or Goddess. It is clear from Catholic doctrine, however, that as Catholics, we do NOT worship Mary, but merely venerate and honor her.