I was reading this article on an authoritative bible site . I was wondering what is the doctrinal bases to hold Catholics as Idolaters

Here is the excerpt:

Life Magazine, reporting the ceremonies in Ottawa, Canada, in June, 1947, at the Marian Congress, pointed out that a great procession of devout people knelt and kissed the foot of the giant statue of Mary "Until the paint wore off its toes." Pictures in L'Europeo, an Italian newspaper, of April 5, 1947, shows that devout Catholics in Naples continue to crawl at full length on their stomachs before the images of their Madonnas and lick the ground with their tongues on their way to the statues. Some years ago, the New York Department of Health was compelled to put a stop to this practice among the Italian people in the Bronx, because it resulted in so many cases of tetanus. Such idolatry!


2 Answers 2


The basis for claiming that Catholicism is idolatry, whether valid or not, is that various Catholic beliefs conflict with Protestant beliefs and doctrines. The list includes the following (and includes a Catholic answer to each claim in the interest of being fair and balanced, and not turning this into a Truth answer):

* Note that in the above, it's not only Catholics that practice these things or hold these views. It's phrased that way because the question asks about Catholics only.

  • 1
    Good. +1. I would add another point concerning the icons. As the quote shows, certain behavior revolving around icons looks like pagan idolatry.
    – user3961
    Jun 7, 2013 at 13:29
  • @fredsbend whereas Catholics like icons quite a bit, you'd be more likely to make that argument about Orthodox than Catholics
    – Peter Turner
    Jun 7, 2013 at 14:55
  • With respect to confessing sins to a human being, what about James 5:16a: "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed."(ESV)? Matt. 18:18 even indicates some kind of delegated authority with respect to sin (more on the judgment side in its context). Priest vs. "two or three of you" might be a point of distinction.
    – user3331
    Jun 7, 2013 at 23:23
  • That superscript/subscript trick on the note is kind of neat.
    – user3331
    Jun 8, 2013 at 0:54
  • In addition, asking saints to intercede is perceived by some Protestant sects as being equivalent to asking a totem or spirit to intercede. It's a matter of perception. Jun 8, 2013 at 4:16

First of all the story described above is pure idolatry. It involves constructing a graven image and then bowing down before it. This is precisely what is condemned.

"Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the LORD your God." Leviticus 26:1

Secondly, the Protestant "protest" against the unbiblical authority attributed to the pope invoked problems of idolatry. Consider these paragraphs from this Letter of Martin Luther to Pope Leo X. Emphases added.

Therefore, Leo, my Father, beware of listening to those sirens who make you out to be not simply a man, but partly a god, so that you can command and require whatever you will. It will not happen so, nor will you prevail. You are the servant of servants, and more than any other man, in a most pitiable and perilous position. Let not those men deceive you who pretend that you are lord of the world; who will not allow any one to be a Christian without your authority; who babble of your having power over heaven, hell, and purgatory. These men are your enemies and are seeking your soul to destroy it, as Isaiah says, “My people, they that call thee blessed are themselves deceiving thee.” They are in error who raise you above councils and the universal Church; they are in error who attribute to you alone the right of interpreting Scripture. All these men are seeking to set up their own impieties in the Church under your name, and alas! Satan has gained much through them in the time of your predecessors.

In brief, trust not in any who exalt you, but in those who humiliate you. For this is the judgment of God: “He hath cast down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble.” See how unlike Christ was to His successors, though all will have it that they are His vicars. I fear that in truth very many of them have been in too serious a sense His vicars, for a vicar represents a prince who is absent. Now if a pontiff rules while Christ is absent and does not dwell in his heart, what else is he but a vicar of Christ? And then what is that Church but a multitude without Christ? What indeed is such a vicar but antichrist and an idol?

  • It is not idol that they VENERATE but the images of holy people. There is no official sanction for their worship. People sometime cross the boundaries in ignorance that is a different matter. Idols are something without shapes and form or things. Idolatry is: Practice to pray at Tombs of the saints (Pirs), Venerating the pictures of religious shrines like Rock of Dome, Use of Moon and Star as religious symbols and even bowing to some vague numbers such as 786, even printed verses. Many would also categorise the black stone in kaaba as the idol worship very much akin to Shiv lingam of Hinduism. Jun 8, 2013 at 15:34
  • All those things like venerating shrines of peers , 786 etc are considered forbidden by the orthodox Muslims, regarding the Kaba , then it itself is a mosque not an Idol as people pray on top of it as well as inside it. Kabah means direction , Kabah is a direction holder to face one place Jun 14, 2013 at 11:52

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