Catholics Do NOT Worship Saints!

But the press continually gets it wrong. Here is a version of an Associate Press report, via Fox News, on the relics of St. Therese of Lisieux:

JERUSALEM –  Remains of a revered French nun who died more than 100 years ago have traveled the world, ventured into outer space and been worshiped by hundreds of thousands of Catholics. Now the relics of St. Therese of Lisieux are making their way through the Holy Land.

Grrrrrrrrr! The word is venerate NOT worship.  I have posted on this before, Do Catholics Worship Mary and the Saints?

Terry Mattingly, of the Get Religion blog has a post up on the subject, Worship? Just say ‘NO’.


The faithful in the ancient churches of Christianity do not “worship” the relics of saints, in the definition that is clearly implied in this story. The proper word is “venerate.”

Here is a useful comparison. Let’s say that your immediate family includes a grandmother who, at some point in the past, lost her husband. Let’s say that on her bedside table there is a picture of her beloved and, at bedtime, it is her custom to kiss this portrait goodnight. The proper term for this action is “veneration,” not “worship,” in the sense that this word is customarily used.

This subject is fresh in my mind because this past Sunday was the first in the season of Great Lent in the churches of the East — known as the Sunday of Orthodoxy. At the end of the service, in a rite marking the ultimate defeat of the iconoclasts, the faithful loudly make the following proclamation. Note the language used in the references to icons (since this would also apply to relics) and the language applied to Jesus.

As the Prophets beheld, as the Apostles have taught, as the Church has received, as the Teachers have dogmatized, as the Universe has agreed, as Grace has shown forth, as Truth has revealed, as falsehood has been dissolved, as Wisdom has presented, as Christ has awarded, let us declare, let us assert, let us preach in like manner Christ our true God and honor His Saints in words, in writings, in thoughts, in deeds, in churches, in holy icons — worshiping Him as God and Lord and honoring them as His true servants of the master of all, and offering to them due veneration.

This is the Faith of the Apostles! This is the Faith of the Fathers! This is the Faith of the Orthodox! This is the Faith, which has established the Universe!

This is certainly not timid language. However, note the terms applied to the icons — “honor” and “veneration.” What is the term applied to Jesus Christ? The phrase is “worshiping Him as God and Lord. …”

Now I bring this up as a journalistic issue, not as a subject for doctrinal debates. Other churches are free to believe what they believe and the Associated Press should cover those beliefs accurately. However, this particular AP story is simply wrong. The word “worship” should not be used in this lede because that is not what Catholics believe.” Read more here.

About Susan Kehoe

I am the wife of a Catholic deacon living in Des Moines Iowa. My husband Larry was ordained in 2006. We have two children and five grandchildren.. Our daughter and her family live in Ireland, and our son and his family live in Franklin Massachusetts.
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1 Response to Catholics Do NOT Worship Saints!

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