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Misconception: Catholics worship Mary and are, therefore, committing idolatry
In Catholic theology there are three types of worship – one of which is condemned in the Bible if offered to anyone but God:
1) Latria – this is adoration which is given to God alone – giving this type of worship to anyone else is considered to be a mortal sin and it is the idolatry condemned in the Bible.
2) Hyperdulia – this is a special type of worship given to Mary the Mother of Jesus – it is only given to her and it is not considered to be idolatory as it is not adoration, merely reverence.
3) Dulia – this is the special type of worship given only to the saints and angels – it is also not idolatrous as it, too, is a form of reverence.
The distinction was made by the 2nd Council of Nicaea in 787 AD. The council was called to condemn the people who claimed that it was idolatrous to have statues and images of saints. The canons of the Council can be read here.
Just to clarify: “Latria is a Latin term (from the Greek ???????) used in Orthodox and Catholic theology to mean adoration, which is the highest form of worship or reverence and is directed only to the Holy Trinity.” – there are lower forms of worship (as is implied here). A Catholic who may kneel in front of a statue while praying isn’t worshipping the statue or even praying to it, any more than the Protestant who kneels with a Bible in his hands when praying is worshipping the Bible or praying to it. The images of saints (whether it be in statue form or painting) serves as a reminder of the holiness of the person depicted.