There is a common misconception among non-Catholics that Catholics worship statues. However, this is not true. In fact, the Catholic Church condemns the worship of any person or thing other than God. The use of statues and other forms of religious art is not a form of worship, but rather a means of expressing devotion and reverence towards God and the saints.
The Catholic Church acknowledges that the use of images and symbols can be a powerful aid in prayer and worship. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate Word: so it was with the bronze serpent, the ark of the covenant, and the cherubim” (CCC 2130). The use of images is not an innovation of the Catholic Church, but rather a practice that has been used by God’s people throughout history.
Statues and other forms of religious art serve as reminders of the presence of God and the saints. They can help us to focus our attention and lift our hearts to God. Catholics do not worship statues, but rather use them as a means of expressing their love and devotion towards God and the saints. Just as a picture of a loved one can bring to mind fond memories and emotions, so too can a statue or image of a saint remind us of their virtuous life and inspire us to imitate their example.
It is important to note that the Catholic Church does not believe that statues or images have any inherent power or divine attributes. Rather, they are simply physical representations of spiritual realities. The use of images and statues is always subordinate to the worship of God, and never a replacement for it.
Furthermore, the Catholic Church has a rich tradition of iconography, which has been used throughout the centuries to convey important theological truths. The images and symbols used in Catholic art are not meant to be taken literally, but rather as representations of spiritual realities. For example, a statue of the Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus is not meant to be worshipped as a divine being, but rather as a representation of Mary’s role as the mother of God.
In conclusion, Catholics do not worship statues. The use of images and statues in Catholic worship is not a form of idolatry, but rather a means of expressing devotion towards God and the saints. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “the honor paid to sacred images is a ‘respectful veneration,’ not the adoration due to God alone” (CCC 2132). Catholics believe that the use of images and symbols can be a powerful aid in prayer and worship, but always subordinate to the worship of God.