DO CATHOLICS WORSHIP IDOLS/ PRACTICE IDOLATRY?
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Prior to the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, making of any representation of God by the hand of man is PROHIBITED. It’s NOT because God hates religious statues i.e., God commands images made.(cf. Exo. 25:18-22,26:1,31; Num. 21:8-9) He is AGAINST false representation of Him. Needless to say, it’s very IMPROPER to create a depiction of the unseen Creator.(cf. Deut. 4:15-16, John 5:37)
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But, God is OMNISCIENT and before the creation began He has already a PERFECT plan on how He will reveal Himself to mankind. And that is through the INCARNATION of our Lord Jesus Christ.(cf. John 1:14) God became VISIBLE to us through His Son, Jesus Christ.(cf. John 14:8-9) 2000 years ago, the Son of God DWELT among us just like an ordinary man.(cf. John 1:14, Phil. 2:5-9)
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Therefore, after the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, we already have a PERFECT representation of God. So, if we’ll make an IMAGE of Christ, God will NOT rebuke us because Christ is not a false representation of Him. Christ is the PERFECT representation of God i.e., Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.(cf. Col. 1:15)
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Thus, we, Catholics make IMAGES of Christ because we know that Christ is NOT a false representation of God and for the fact that God doesn’t hate images for religious purposes. Furthermore, we ONLY venerate these religious IMAGES because we faithfully believe that God ALONE must be worshipped. To set things straight, the Catechism explains: “The veneration of sacred images is based on the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God. It is not contrary to the first commandment.”(CCC #2141)
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Accusing us Catholics as idolaters is FALSE because we never WORSHIP other gods. We worship God alone, the Most Holy Trinity.(cf. Athanasian Creed) The images of Christ in our Churches are NOT idols but ICONS. IDOLS are representation of things that have NO real existence.(cf. 1Cor. 8:4) On the contrary, an ICON is a depiction of CERTAIN realities, i.e. the image(Greek: Eikon) of Caesar on the coin(denarius) that was brought to Jesus.(cf. Matt. 22:19-20) The Greek term “Eikon”(Icon) refers to the likeness/image of REAL being. In fact, our Lord Jesus used the term “Eikon” referring to the image of Caesar on the coin. And it’s worth to note that our Lord did not rebuke the icon of Caesar.
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And since our Lord Jesus Christ has REAL existence, any depiction of Him(e.g., Black Nazarene, Santo Niño) aren’t considered idols BUT icons. Moreover, the images of Saints and Angels aren’t idols because they have REAL existence too. Their images are considered ICONS also.
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It is part of Church Tradition to venerate religious icons. But Veneration should not be confused with Adoration that is due to God alone. Veneration is not idolatrous in nature because it is a mere act of respect not act of worship.(cf. CCC #2132) Venerating this religious icons should draw us closer to God. They do not possess any special power nor can bestow favors by themselves. Miracles connected to a particular icon must be regarded as a work of God.
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–Lay Apologist