Those who would defend Roman Catholicism persistently press the illogical and invalid assertion that the Roman cult neither teaches, nor in fact practices, worship of Mary. They argue that, as concerns Mary and the other ghosts in the RCC pantheon, worship does not mean worship and venerate does not mean worship and render homage does not mean worship and pray to does not mean worship and sacrifice to does not mean worship. Words can be used to convey many meanings, a fact the Magisterium has consistently used to its own purpose.
Regardless of what those who speak in Rome's cause may claim or how they redefine word meanings, the Roman Catholic hierarchy indeed does foster mariolatry, worship of things and the spirits of the dead. When the Ladies' Sodality meets every night in the chapel to toll their beads and pray the Rosary, they are rendering worship to Mary. When a little old man struggles up to a statue of Mary and, falling to his knees before it, places coins in a box, lights a candle and offers prayers to her, that is worship. When a Blackrobed Benedictine oblate prays to St. Maurus and calls upon him to heal a dying child, he is not only praying to a spirit for a miracle but actually is rendering a low-level of worship. When the Catholic faithful genuflect or cross themselves when passing in front of the tabernacle where a consecrated host is kept, they might claim they are rendering honors to Christ, but the fact is they are paying homage to a cracker.
As one Christian theologian wrote:
At this point, perhaps it would be well to define a few terms. The words veneration and worship are used often in catechisms and other RCC documents. Surely the meanings of these words are clearly understood by Catholics, religious and laity alike. One older Catholic dictionary provides these definitions:
Interesting that this Catholic dictionary uses the word "worship" to define veneration and then goes on to define worship as adoration, reverence and veneration. Granted, the dictionary does draw distinctions between levels of worship rendered to God and to saints. However, this source does clearly give the lie to ill-informed Catholic apologists who would assert that Catholics do not worship their saints. Perhaps the problem lies with the age of this dictionary. A more recent Catholic dictionary provides no definition of worship but does address veneration:
In this Catholic dictionary, the words devotion and reverence are used to help define veneration while worship and adoration are used to distinguish between the service rendered to saints and that given to God. Should one press the issue and seek to learn how this Catholic source defines the terms used, the issue becomes more clouded.
So, adoration is an outward act of worship that may be internal. It is giving worship to a person or thing but should be rendered to God alone. Yeah, that's clear.
Some Catholic apologists might be quick to point to the differences between dulia and latria as evidence that Catholics do not worship Mary or any of the saints in the Roman Pantheon. However, this is playing with word meanings – semantics, if you will.
Given the above definitions, it would appear that one is not in error when claiming that Catholics worship Mary, as well as things and other ghosts. This may be simply innocence on the part of ill-prepared Catholic apologists who do not understand that latria, hyperdulia and dulia are but various levels of worship, as is clearly explained by a trusted Catholic source:
Once again, it bears noting that words such as devotion, veneration and honours are used in defining the term worship. Perhaps this is not convincing for, trustworthy Catholic source that it may be, the Catholic Encyclopedia is not an official source of Catholic teaching. Let us turn now to the Catechism:
Notice that in this official source, we are taught that devotion to Mary is a vital part of Catholic worship. In the citation from the Catholic Encyclopedia, devotion was used to define the special worship rendered to God alone.
Sonuvagun! Here, the Catechism talks of the veneration rendered images and such. The Catholic Encyclopedia used the same word to describe the worship tendered saints.
The thinking Catholic might acknowledge that, in the face of the foregoing evidence, Catholics indeed do worship Mary, saints and things. However, he likely then will seek to dismiss this clear infraction of the First Commandment by pointing out that the Catholic sources that use the word worship in reference to things and saints and such clearly define that it is not the adoration they give only to God.
Let me draw a parallel from the real world to demonstrate the flaws in the above argument. Notice my use of the word in these statements: 1) I love my wife; 2) I love cheesecake; 3) I love sleeping late. Each of these is a true statement; however, each expresses a different degree of love. All are accurate uses of the word, which has many applications.
One wonders why Roman Catholics have such a difficult time admitting that the word worship similarly has multiple levels of application. Rome has an arsenal of definitions for worship and draws from it according to the needs of the moment. The Catholic apologist is quick to point out that, should the RCC declare that the worship or veneration given to the saints is not the adoration that belongs to God, it shows that a clear line has been drawn as to what the church wants.
Most Christians with whom I have interacted have demonstrated a consistent literal/historical/grammatical hermeneutic, whether looking at a passage in the Word of God or a paragraph from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I do not recall interacting with any Bible Christian who adamantly argued that Catholic teaching required worship be offered to Mary and other spirits and things in the same manner or at the same level as that rendered to God. Like the cult of Mithra, from which so much of RCC doctrine and practice is derived, Catholicism is explicit in declaring three levels of worship for her gods and sacred objects. Rome has declared, in her Catechism, in her Code of Canon Law, in her councils and papal pronouncements, in her breviaries, liturgies and church calendars, that worship is tendered, at different levels, to God Almighty, Mary and all the pantheon of saints and to their leavings.
In an interesting sidebar, the Second Council of Nicea elected to use the word proskunei in addressing the veneration to be rendered to images rather than dulia, the preferred word for such veneration. Proskunei is found in Acts 10:25-26, where it is recorded for all time as the word used to describe the worship the Centurion Cornelius sought to render Peter. (Definition of the Sacred Images and Tradition, Council of Nicea II, (787), Denzinger 302)
Golly gee! A council of the Catholic Church used the word to describe the worship due objects that the Holy Spirit used to describe the inappropriate worship Cornelius attempted to give Peter. Guess there are times when the RCC indeed does teach that things are to be worshipped.
This passage is made more interesting when one considers the RCC fantasy of apostolic succession. In Acts 10, Peter refused to permit people to bow down to him or to worship him in any way, yet those who claim to be his successors offer their hands or rings or feet to be kissed and seem to enjoy being carried about on the shoulders of men, just like those idols the churches parade through the streets every now and then.
Has the Roman Catholic Church in fact, if not in their written word, elevated Mary to the level of deity? I believe that it has.
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