The Catholic Church believes that the use of statues, icons and relics is acceptable and even necessary for worship. Catholics have been taught to believe that they do not worship idols; they simply “venerate” them. The truth is that “veneration” gives honor and reverence to something and/or someone other than God; therefore, veneration is idolatry according to the Bible. God commanded that, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37).
In the Catholic Catechism and in most official Catholic documents, the first and second commandments are combined and then summarized with “I am the Lord your God. You shall not have other gods beside Me.” The second commandment that forbids the making of statues and images is deleted:
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:4-6).
The use of physical images in worship violates the commandment of God. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). The Creator of the universe should not be represented by stone, rock, or wood.
This commandment does not necessarily prohibit the use of sculpture and painting in religion. The artistry and representation employed in the construction of the sanctuary (Ex. 25:17–22), in Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 6:23–26), and in the “brasen serpent” (Num. 21:8, 9; 2 Kings 18:4) clearly prove that the second commandment does not proscribe religious illustrative material. What is condemned is the reverence, the worship, or quasi worship, which multitudes in many lands give to religious images and pictures.
In His service,
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