To the Editor,
I believe that some clarification of a comment made in an AP story in the Banner Graphic on Pope John Paul II is necessary to set the record straight.
The article in question appeared in the Saturday, Jan. 15 issue of The Banner Graphic. The article was on the Faith section and the inaccurate comment was in the top of the fifth column of the article.
I am not writing to complain about the Banner Graphic or its staff; the problem is with an Associated Press wire story.
The article on the canonization process for the late John Paul II stated that once he was beatified, he would "be given the title 'blessed' and can be publicly venerated, or worshipped." It continued to say that after the beatification, "the ceremony will allow Catholics to publicly worship him."
The inaccuracy in the reporting is in the comments that Catholics "worship" saints. Catholics do NOT worship saints. We venerate, or honor them. Worship belongs to God alone.
As Catholics, we believe that there is one mediator between God and man and He is Jesus Christ. We pray to the saints to ask for their intercession. If someone asks me to pray for a sick relative or someone they know needs help, I will pray for that intention.
The person making the request may ask several people to pray for that intention so more prayers are said on that person's behalf. Prayers to the saints are the same type of intercession. We ask them to pray on our behalf. We pray to Christ directly but we also pray to the saints since they are part of the Body of Christ as well.
Scripture tells us that the prayers of a just man avail much (James 5:16). So the prayers of the saints, those who have gone before us, are alive in Christ in Heaven, and know how to worship God perfectly, are most effective.
We venerate, or honor, the saints and while asking for their intercession on our earthly journey, we try to follow their Christian example.
We may have pictures or statues of them to help us remember them when we pray but we do not worship them. It is similar to having pictures of family members displayed in our homes to remind us of them.
When we honor the saints, we do not take anything away from God. I have heard and read that the practice is like complimenting an artist's work or complimenting parents on their children. It does not take anything away from the creator of a piece of art to give them praise for their creation. The artist is pleased to have his work held in high esteem. Parents are pleased (and often relieved) to hear good things about their children.
So in like fashion, when we venerate those whom the Holy Spirit has inspired the Church to canonize, we render praise unto God our Creator who has seen fit to give us more help through their prayers.
So the Catholic Church does not worship saints, we honor them and ask for their prayers on behalf of those here on Earth.
I thank you for your time and the opportunity to try to clarify a common misconception of a most effective Catholic practice.