“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37
“Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus” --Pope Francis (Evangelii Gaudium, #120)
This Sunday's first reading will be from Exodus. It explicitly states: "You shall not carve idols for yourselves".
So why do Catholic churches have....idols?
And then the Bible continues to say, in Exodus: "You shall not bow down before them or worship them."
And yet we see this in our churches as well as our homes:
So do Catholics just disregard what the Bible says?
Short answer: no.
Long answer: Catholics believe in and uphold what the Bible says. But we take the Word of God in its entirety; we do not just extract verses out of context and in isolation.
If one just reads a bit further in Exodus, we see where God actually commands the building of statues:
Make two cherubim of beaten gold for the two ends of the cover;
make one cherub at one end, and the other at the other end, of one piece with the cover, at each end.
The cherubim shall have their wings spread out above, sheltering the cover with them; they shall face each other, with their faces looking toward the cover.--Exodus 25:18-20
So it's not having statues that's offensive to God. It's worshipping them.
And of course, no Catholic worships a statue!
We keep statues in our churches as visual reminders of those we love, just as we have pictures in our homes as visual reminders of people we love.
As far as bowing down...well, that's not worship. In many cultures bowing is a sign of respect, but it is NOT a means of worshipping a person.
It is no more worshipping a statue when we bow before one, than this person is worshipping the Bible when he bows before it and kisses it:
Unfortunately, there are still many folks who continue to spread the false belief that statues in our churches is evidence that we Catholics practice idolatry. Consider this, from the very popular website: gotquestions.org
Question: "Do Catholics worship idols / practice idolatry?"Answer: Sadly, our Catholic friends and family members have been indoctrinated to believe that the use of statues, relics, and other articles is acceptable and even necessary for worship. They have been taught by the Roman Catholic Church that the images and icons used in the church are not actually “worshiped” but are simply “visual aids” to worship.The Catholic Church long ago began making allowances for the idolatrous use of images by the way they reference the Ten Commandments. In the Catholic catechism and in most official Catholic documents, the first and second commandments are combined and then summarized with “I am the Lord your God. You shall not have other gods beside Me.” Suspiciously absent is what comprises the second commandment in the Protestant numbering of the Ten Commandments: “You shall not make any graven images.”
It's a rather common objection, esp. in the blogosphere, to hear that Catholicism makes its own rules up, giving no regard to the Bible.
However, we can be assured as Catholics that our Church does indeed profess, uphold and venerate the Scriptures. We just don't take verses out of context, and read them without the lens of Sacred Tradition.
For more info, visit these websites:
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15