Do Roman Catholics Worship Mary?

The Roman Catholic Church considers Mary more than blessed. She is called “Mother of God,” “Mother of the Church,” “Immaculate,” and “Queen over all things.” This article is not an attack against Roman Catholicism; although, this site pleads for first-century Christianity.

Does the Roman Catholic Church teach the worship of Mary? Most Catholics deny that they venerate Mary as equal to God. However, decide for yourself and be sure to read the last paragraph about Mary being “intrinsic to Christian worship.” From their Catechism, the Roman Catholic Church asserts:

“Since the Virgin Mary’s role in the mystery of Christ and the Spirit has been treated, it is fitting now to consider her place in the mystery of the Church. ‘The Virgin Mary…is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and of the redeemer…. She is ‘clearly the mother of the members of Christ’ … since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head.’ ‘Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church.’ […]

Mary’s role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it. ‘This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to his death’; it is made manifest above all at the hour of his Passion:

Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross. There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim, born of her: to be given, by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross, as a mother to his disciple, with these words: ‘Woman, behold your son.’

After her Son’s Ascension, Mary ‘aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers.’ In her association with the apostles and several women, ‘we also see Mary by her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation.’… also in her Assumption [‘of her body into heaven’].

‘Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.’ The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:

‘In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.’she is our Mother in the order of grace.

Her role in relation to the Church and to all humanity goes still further. ‘In a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace.

‘This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfilment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation…. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.’ […]

‘All generations will call me blessed’: ‘The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.The Church rightly honors ‘the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of “Mother of God,” to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs… This very special devotion…differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.’ The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an ‘epitome of the whole Gospel,’ express this devotion to the Virgin Mary” (“Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church.” Catechism of the Catholic Church. 15 Feb. 2012. <vatican.va> emp. added).

About Scott J Shifferd

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
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18 Responses to Do Roman Catholics Worship Mary?

  1. William Starnes says:

    P.S. One other comment… Why did you mention the breaking away from the “Orthodox” church? Are you not aware that Mary is venerated by the Orthodox Church to this very day? There are some differences in Latin and Orthodox positions regarding Mary, but both Churches accept her as a role model for Christians, and both hold her in high regard and mention her in their Mass celebrations.

    I am curious: what denomination do you fall under?

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    • The Roman Catholics have called us Vaudois and Lollards, and mistakenly called us Waldensians, Paulicians, and Anabaptists. We’ve always just called ourselves Christians. We are not a denomination and we are not protestant. There are millions of us throughout the world. We seek solely to be the Church of Christ.

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      • William Starnes says:

        That is very interesting. As a student of theology, I am interested in the early church and the many beliefs held therein. Though I was vaguely familiar with the terms you listed, I had to go back and look them all up. Quite educational. Church history shows that one could hardly proclaim any belief without being called heretical by someone.

        I would love to learn more. Can you give me any information about your church? If you prefer, you could email directly rather than on this public posting.

        Have a blessed day.

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        • There are about 12,000 congregations and more than 1.5 million baptized adults who attend every first day of the week in the United States. This number does not include our children, and there are many others who will claim affiliation to us, who do not attend weekly. Those numbers are unclear. Our numbers are in the thousands in Europe and increasing millions in Africa and millions in India. That is all that I know off hand.

          I recommend any primary sources concerning the Vaudois and Lollards, because so many different things are said about these believers. I also recommend the last 2 sources noted on this website under the tab at the top called “History of the Church of Christ”. “The History of the Churches of Christ in Central Europe” would be an excellent start. My additional source are my works of collecting primary sources. Our congregations existed separately in Spain, India, England, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States with a debated history of where these churches originated, because each do not link much in history. The churches in England existed prior to Wycliffe and some came from Germany, and those in Germany appear to have come from southern France and northern Italy. These bodies claim like the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox to be the first Church. Most of the churches of Christ in the U.S. grew from the Restoration Movement, but the churches existed in smaller numbers before that movement of denominations into the Church of Christ.

          May God bless your studies.

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        • Some also say that we are a “seed” church referring to wherever the belief arises to simply follow Christ’s words and the Apostles’ doctrine from Scriptures, then churches of Christ grow from the seed of the Word of God.

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  2. William says:

    What is the point of the article but to criticize Catholic Christians? One of two things is going on here: either you are ignorant of Catholic teachings (understandable, but not acceptable as a minister teaching these things), or you are intentionally misleading people with such rhetoric (inexcusable).

    If one wants to see the position of Mary in the Catholic Church, he simply has to ask what her role is. She is not Christ. To further emphasize the point, one simply need look at the respect and veneration given to Mary (based on her relationship with Christ) and ask what her importance would be without Him. Obviously, she is nothing without Christ, just as we are nothing without Him.

    It would seem to me that a minister would welcome Mary as the first believer in Christ, the faithful servant of Christ, and a living example of Christian fidelity. Please educate yourself before trying to tear down other Christians for no reason other than self aggrandizement.

    In Christ,
    William Starnes

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    • William,

      These are quotes from the Roman Catholic sect that broke away from the Orthodox church. There is no lack of education or understanding. These are words from the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

      Let all true believers start with Christ following His words, life, and love to His death, burial, and resurrection. He leads us to the Church that He built and bought with His blood (Matt. 16:18, Acts 20:28). He leads us to the Church that continued in the Apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42). He sent the Spirit upon them to teach all Truth (John 14:26, 16:12-13). Those who listen to Christ must listen to His Apostles (John 15:20, 17:8, 20-21). Christ and His Apostles do not mention the Roman Catholic hierarchy, but they do mention details about church government. They do honor Mary, but do not venerate her in mass. They do not lead to anything specifically Roman Catholic.

      You can follow the Roman Catholic church or you can follow Christ to His Church. You can’t follow Christ to the Roman Catholic sect, but you can follow Him to the Church that He built.

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      • William Starnes says:

        I guess that concludes our conversation, since you fail to answer the points of my post.

        I thank you for your reply in any case and sincerely hope that you will one day understand the difference between veneration due to significant figures (not just Mary) and the adoration and worship due to Christ.

        Have a Blessed Day,

        William Starnes

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        • Don’t be blind. Don’t close your eyes. Don’t be deceived. There is a reason that God wanted you to know these things. Yet, you are now ignoring Him, because it is not the message that you wanted.

          I understand the difference, but the article above said nothing against your position. These are quotes from the Roman Catholic church. The veneration with the titles given to Mary above are not simply honor and go beyond venerating the most honorable. Mary is given a status and recognition in the Assembly as a part of worship. You will not be able to see the contrast from the Apostles’ doctrine and super-veneration of Mary and such saints.

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          • William Starnes says:

            With all due respect, I have attended Catholic Mass as well as services from almost every denomination of Christianity. I have never seen Mary worshiped as you say. It is a straw man argument you are putting forth. It simply is not part of Catholic teaching. And yes, I have read the Catechism as well as most of the early church fathers’ writings. You may misread Catholic documents and twist them however you like, but it doesn’t make what you say true. Catholics worship God alone through the Blessed Trinity, which does not include Mary.

            Now, you could argue the several other points about Mary, such as the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception or her Assumption into heaven. Those Catholic positions are harder to defend. But to say that Mary is worshipped on the same level as God is to be ignorant of the facts. I would recommend that you open YOUR eyes and possibly befriend a Catholic priest to find out the facts before you condemn. That is the responsibility of a teacher in the Church, and it is one that you appear not to be interested in.

            You have had at least two Catholics reply to your post that Mary is not worshipped. These are first-hand accounts. Why do you ignore these first-hand accounts from people intimately familiar with the Church?

            If you would like to engage in a friendly discussion of Catholicism, I am happy to do so as I have time. But if your desire is to try to save me (or other Catholics), then you are misguided.

            In Christ,
            William Starnes

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          • William,

            Let us be clear. Read again. I did not say that Mary was worshiped as God by Catholics. I did present the question, “Do Roman Catholics Worship Mary?” You are right. There are first-hand primary sources here showing that Catholics do not perceive themselves as worshiping Mary, but they do venerate her in Mass. Roman Catholics do honor and venerate her above others and pray to her. They turn to her as a part of their salvation. As you affirmed, you do believe in the Assumption and Immaculate Conception. Such things are not a part of Christ’s words and these are not from Apostles’ doctrine. Catholicism veneration of Mary is in stark contrast from the honor that the first Christians had for God, Christ, and the Spirit and the honor that they had for one another. To the Catholics who have joined the Church of Christ, they see that they were once worshiping Mary and now they detest those invented doctrines.

            With all respect for the many sincere Catholics, who are honest, prayerful, moral, and generous, Cornelius was the same, but he was not saved yet until he heard the Word and he was immersed in water in Jesus’ name being buried with Christ to be raised with Him.

            Thank you for your time and kind discussion.

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  3. Give quotes and they remain deaf. Such a shame.

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  4. Christiane says:

    Catholics don’t ‘worship’ Mary. You are wrong to tell lies.

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  5. truetolife says:

    Of course, this is anti Catholic sentiment once again. It only aids in the division of believers in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Nowhere in the Catechism of the Catholic Church does it state that we worship Mary. We venerate her as a special and unique human being. Please stop trying to form divisions when it is our Lord’s intent that we become one!

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    • This is meant to challenge you as the words above challenge other believers. These words above are more of a challenge to simple believers starting with Jesus’ life and words than for Roman Catholics. Roman Catholicism brings us beyond the doctrine of Christ for which simple believers in Him cannot go. This veneration of Mary is beyond the authority of Jesus Christ and therefore the beyond the scope of our confession of faith. Roman Catholicism is no victim here in its great influence, numbers, and wealth.

      Who now is causing the division? The line is really drawn in the sand with Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division” (Luke 12:51).

      By just following the words of Jesus Christ, first His words lead forward to His words given to His Apostles and prophets (John 15:20, 17:8), and His words lead also us back to God’s purpose through Him (Luke 24:44). These words lead to Jesus Christ and His Apostles as ecclesiastical authority. All other church authority must be subject to Jesus Christ and then to the words of the Apostolic Scriptures. Do those words lead us to Roman Catholicism as we read above? That is what you must decide. Were these scriptures formed by the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholicism, or another church, the Church of Christ Jesus? Who was formed first? How can we decide but to read the Apostolic scriptures and find that Church on our own?

      The only division here is Roman Catholicism from Jesus Christ. The unity of one body is in Christ and not Roman Catholicism. These words above separate disciples from Christ from those who have assumed influence to interpret Christian beliefs that they never had.

      May the Almighty God who able to reveal all truth show us the Church of Jesus Christ.

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  6. Pingback: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BLESSED AND HIGHLY FAVORED THE NEXT STEP « Vine and Branch World Ministries

  7. Kay Ragan Durden says:

    Thanks for another great study!

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