The truth will set us free.
- From: "Wings of a Dove" <noahdove7@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: 24 Apr 2006 22:29:11 -0700
Jesus said that the truth will set us free. (John 8:32) However, He did
not say that the truth would necessarily be easy to accept. It was
painful for me to learn the information that I am about to share with
you, but it was also liberating and it led to a closer relationship
As a faithful Catholic, and later as a nun, I was devoted to Mary. The
prayers and practices were so familiar. They were taught to me by
sincere people. I prayed the rosary, including rosary novenas. I wore a
Brown Scapular and a Miraculous Medal. (You can read about these things
in the Glossary, which is Appendix C.) I visited shrines that honor
Mary. I had beautiful statues of Mary. I attended special services
where we prayed to Mary and recited a litany of titles honoring her. I
read books about apparitions of Mary, and dreamed of visiting Lourdes
and Fatima. I participated in processions honoring Mary. A statue of
Mary was put on a platform that was decorated with flowers. There were
poles on the platform, so that men could carry it. The men walked
through the streets, carrying the statue on the platform. We walked
behind the statue, singing songs in Mary's honor.
Was this worship? At the time, that question never occurred to me. Now,
looking back on what I did, I believe that it was.
If modern Catholic teachings and doctrines about Mary are true, then
they will not be contrary to Scripture, the writings of the Early
Fathers, or the decrees of past popes. For a devout Catholic to
question these issues and put them to the test can be painful. It
certainly was for me. However, it would be far more painful to have God
correct us when we face Him on Judgment Day.
LETTING THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
SPEAK FOR ITSELF
I believe in letting people speak for themselves. Therefore my primary
sources about Catholic doctrines and history come from the Catholic
First and foremost is the official "Catechism of the Catholic Church"
which was written for the purpose of summarizing the essential and
basic teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. It was approved by Pope
John Paul II in 1992 and the English translation was released in 1994.
The latest English edition was printed in 2000. Most of my other
sources are either practicing Catholics or else former Catholics whose
approach is loving and respectful and who have thoroughly documented
The "Catechism of the Catholic Church " comes in numerous editions
and languages. Because it has numbered paragraphs, statements can be
accurately located in spite of the variety of editions. Therefore, when
I cite the "Catechism," I will give paragraph numbers rather than
page numbers. That will enable you to find the information in any
edition of the book. (Note 1)
Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
If you really want to understand Catholic teaching in the light of
Scripture and the history of the Catholic church, then I strongly
recommend reading the following two books. The authors are former
Catholics who love and respect Catholics. They are gentle and
respectful in their approach. (See the Bibliography for information
about these books.)
(1) "The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and the
Word of God," by James G. McCarthy. This book is easy to read, well
documented, objective, and gentle. It is a comprehensive guide to
Catholic beliefs, based on Catholic sources. It examines Catholic
teachings in the light of Scripture.
(2) "The Church of Rome at the Bar of History" by William Webster. This
book compares modern Catholic doctrines with the teachings of the early
For a good overview of Catholicism, I recommend the video "Catholicism:
Crisis of Faith". A friend of mine said that in one hour, this video
gave him a better understanding of Catholicism than he had received
from a college course on the subject. This video is gentle and
respectful. An annotated transcript is available on-line. (Information
about videos follows the Bibliography.)
WILL THE REAL CATHOLIC CHURCH
PLEASE STAND UP?
When I was in the convent, our mother superior told us about Catholics
in Mexico who, in their devotion to Mary, were doing things that we
would only do when worshipping God. We were concerned about this. We
considered this practice to be unusual and unbalanced. We thought that
the American practice of Catholicism was the true thing. However, many
years later I realized that if you want to know what something really
is, then look at how it behaves when it is in a position of power. In
America, Catholics are in the minority. To see the true spirit behind
Catholicism, watch what the Catholic Church does in countries where it
is in power.
One place where the Catholic Church is strong is Spain, which is known
for the Spanish Inquisition. I always thought that the Inquisition was
ancient history. However, the last official Spanish execution for
heresy occurred in 1826. A schoolmaster was hanged because he
substituted the phrase "Praise be to God" in place of "Ave Maria"
("Hail Mary") during school prayers. (Note 2)
I always thought that abuses of power by the Catholic Church were
something that happened long ago. However, look at the following
example from the Philippines, where the Catholic Church is strong.
Beginning in 1948 there was a series of apparitions of Mary in the city
of Lipa. These apparitions were sometimes accompanied by showers of
rose petals and other supernatural phenomena. They occurred in a
convent. The local bishop personally experienced a shower of rose
petals and thereafter supported the apparitions. The media mocked the
supernatural events in Lipa and street vendors sold phony "holy rose
petals." In response to the bad publicity, the Vatican sent a Papal
Administrator to take over the diocese where the apparitions occurred.
He replaced the bishop and the mother superior. The nun who saw the
apparitions was forced to leave the convent. The nuns were ordered to
destroy all materials associated with the apparitions, including a
statue. The convent was sealed and the nuns were not allowed to talk to
anyone outside the convent. An official Commission of Inquiry was
convened, which unanimously ruled that the apparitions were not valid.
However, they did not interview anybody who had personal, first-hand
knowledge of the events. Several of the bishops who were part of the
Commission of Inquiry stated on their deathbeds that the Papal
Administrator had forced them to sign the verdict by threatening to
excommunicate them if they did not sign it. (Note 3 )
After years of no longer being a Catholic, I attended a Catholic
funeral. When I went into the church something hit me hard. It had
always been there, but I had never noticed it before because I was used
to it. There were statues of Mary and the saints. They looked solid,
real, as if they represented people of power. Jesus only appeared as a
helpless baby in Mary's arms, as a dead man nailed to a cross, and as
little wafers of bread hidden inside a fancy box. Visually and
emotionally the message was very clear -- if you want real power, if
you want someone who can do something for you, then go to Mary and the
DEVOTION TO MARY
If you want to see what a person's real priorities are, then watch what
they do when their life, or the life of a loved one, is in danger. When
Pope John Paul II was shot, while the ambulance was rushing him to the
hospital, the Pope was not praying to God or calling on the name of
Jesus. He kept saying, over and over: "Mary, my mother!" Polish
pilgrims placed a picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa on the throne
where the Pope normally sat. People gathered around the picture.
Vatican loudspeakers broadcasted the prayers of the rosary. When the
Pope recovered, he gave Mary all the glory for saving his life, and he
made a pilgrimage to Fatima to publicly thank her. (Note 4)
Jesus said, "[W]here your treasure is there will your heart be also."
(Luke 12:34) Some statues of Mary have real crowns made of gold. The
web sites listed in the Notes show pictures of statues of Our Lady of
Fatima and Our Lady of Lourdes wearing crowns. (Note 5) The statues in
the pictures are replicas, and their crowns are ceramic and painted
gold. But the crowns on the original statues at Fatima and Lourdes are
real crowns made of real gold.
Vast sums of money are spent on jeweled crowns and lavish clothing for
some special statues of Mary. (You can see pictures of them in the
Catholic devotional book, "Miraculous Images of Our Lady.") In the
Philippines, there is a statue of Our Lady of the Rosary that is nearly
5 feet high. It wears a crown of gold studded with diamonds, rubies,
and other gems. There is a large halo like a sunburst behind its head,
made of gold and diamonds. In Spain, a statue of Our Lady of the
Forsaken has elegant gowns and mantles decorated with gold and jewels.
It has a large collection of jewels, including $50,000 worth of jewels
that are a gift from Queen Isabella II. Our Lady of Guadalupe is best
known for a painting in Mexico, but there is also a statue in Spain
that wears gold and jewels. It has a sunburst headdress with 30,000
jewels. In Germany, a statue of Our Lady of Alotting has a gold crown
covered with rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and diamonds. It wears a
necklace of pearls and rubies, and a gown that is decorated with gold,
pearls, diamonds, emeralds, and rubies. The statue is in a shrine with
a silver altar and walls that are decorated with silver. In Spain, a
statue of Our Lady of the Pillar wears clothing decorated with gold and
jewels, and a large gold crown covered with jewels. There is a sunburst
(halo) behind the statue with a diameter that is larger than the height
of the statue. A full-color, close-up picture of the crown and sunburst
shows that they are covered with diamonds, emeralds, and rubies. (There
are so many jewels that I can't see the gold underneath them.) On the
wall behind the statue are 148 gold stars; 80 of them are set with
jewels. Even paintings of Mary can wear jewels. In Russia, there is a
painting of Our Lady of Kazan that is covered with a rizza (a structure
of gold that covers the entire painting except for the faces of Mary
and baby Jesus). This rizza has more than 1,000 diamonds, rubies,
pearls, and sapphires on it. (Note 6)
In Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico, preparations are underway to construct a
huge statue of Our Lady of the Rosary. Inside the base of the statue
there will be chapels, conference rooms, apartments, a food court, and
radio and TV stations. There will also be observation decks. This
statue will be part of a 500-acre "Mystical City" complex. According to
an article in "Caribbean Business," this statue "will top at 1,500
feet". According to an article by the Associated Press, the statue will
be 305 feet high. (Note 7) The discrepancy in numbers can be explained
by looking at the Statue of Liberty, which is a 151 foot statue on top
of a 154 foot base. Some sources say that the Statue of Liberty is 305
feet high (which includes the height of the base) and some say that it
is 151 feet high (which is the height of the actual statue). What we
probably have in Sabana Grande is a 305 foot statue with a 1,200 foot
I have personally participated in American processions which honored
Mary. We walked through the streets following a statue of Mary which
was carried on a platform, high up where it was clearly visible. We
sang songs in Mary's honor. We prayed rosaries and other prayers to
her. These were small processions. At Fatima, Portugal, crowds of over
a million people gather on the anniversary of the apparition of Our
Lady of Fatima. The celebration includes a procession of a million
people following a statue of Mary and singing her praises. (Note 8)
One popular prayer in Mary's honor is the "Hail Holy Queen," which is
known in Latin as the "Salve Regina". It is traditionally included as
part of praying the rosary.
For Catholics who are reading this, please try to overcome your
familiarity with this text and really look at the words. Doesn't this
sound like worship?
"Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy! Our life, our sweetness and our
hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we
send up our sighs, mourning and weeping, in this valley of tears. Turn,
then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us; and after
this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O
clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary."
Alfonsus de Liguori (1696-1787) was a principal proponent of the
Marianist Movement, which glorifies Mary. He wrote a book entitled "The
Glories of Mary" which is famous, influential and widely read. In this
book, de Liguori says that Mary was given rulership over one half of
the kingdom of God; Mary rules over the kingdom of mercy and Jesus
rules over the kingdom of justice. De Liguori said that people should
pray to Mary as a mediator and look to her as an object of trust for
answered prayer. The book even says that there is no salvation outside
of Mary. Some people suggest that these views are extreme and not
representative of Catholic Church teaching. However, instead of
silencing de Liguori as a heretic, the Catholic Church canonized him as
a saint and declared him to be a "doctor of the Church" (a person whose
teachings carry weight and authority). Furthermore, his book is openly
and officially promoted by the Catholic Church, and his teachings have
influenced popes. (Note 9)
Pope Benedict XV said of Mary that "[O]ne can justly say that with
Christ, she herself redeemed mankind." (Note 10) Pope Pius IX said:
"Our salvation is based upon the holy Virgin... so that if there is any
hope and spiritual healing for us we receive it solely and uniquely
from her." (Note 11)
A lay movement called "Vox Populi" ("Voice of the People") gathers
signed petitions to send to the Pope, seeking to have him officially
declare that Mary is Co-Redemptrix. Over six million signatures have
been sent to him, representing 138 countries and all seven continents.
This doctrine is supported by over 40 cardinals and 600 bishops
worldwide. (Note 12)
The Catholic Church exalts Mary as an idealized, larger-than-life,
perfect mother. However, the Bible shows that at one point Mary
misunderstood Jesus' calling to the point that she thought He was
insane and she tried to prevent Him from doing what God wanted Him to
do. Look at Mark 3:20-34.
"And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so
much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to
lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.'" (Mark
The New International Version says "His family". The New King James
Version says "His own people." The King James Version says "his
friends". According to "Strong's Greek/Hebrew Dictionary," the Greek
word has a variety of meanings, including "kinsmen". However, we
don't have to depend on the exact meaning of the word here because it
will be made clear in verse 31. "Strong's" defines "lay hold on" as
"to use strength, i.e. seize or retain". It defines "beside himself" as
"become astounded, insane".
Verses 22 through 30 describe a confrontation between Jesus and the
scribes. Then we get back to what is happening with the people who
thought that Jesus was out of His mind and were so concerned that they
were coming to "lay hold on him" (seize him).
"There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without,
sent unto him calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they
said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for
thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?
And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold
my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the
same is my brother, and my sister, and mother." (Mark 3:31-35)
CATHOLIC DOCTRINES ABOUT MARY
COMPARED WITH WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
My sources for this section are the Bible and the "Catechism of the
Catholic Church," which has numbered paragraphs. For the sake of
simplicity and brevity, I will just say "Catechism" plus the number of
the paragraph(s). For example, "'Catechism' 411, 493" means "'Catechism
of the Catholic Church,' paragraphs numbered 411 and 493".
For each doctrinal category, I will indicate the Catholic doctrine,
followed by the appropriate references from the "Catechism". I will
follow this with quotations from the Bible which relate to the
doctrine. The last book in the Bible is called "The Book of Revelation"
in Protestant Bibles and "The Apocalypse" in Catholic Bibles. I will
refer to it as "Revelation".
IMMACULATE CONCEPTION -- Mary was preserved from all stain of original
sin from the first instant of her conception. ("Catechism" 490-492).
In Luke 1:46-47, Mary said: "My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my
spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour". Mary knew that she needed a
The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was first introduced by a
heretic (a man whose teachings were officially declared to be contrary
to Church doctrine). For centuries this doctrine was unanimously
rejected by popes, Fathers and theologians of the Catholic Church.
ALL-HOLY -- Mary, "the All-Holy," lived a perfectly sinless life.
("Catechism" 411, 493)
Romans 3:23 says "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of
God". Revelation 15:4 says, "Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and
glorify thy name? For thou only art holy". Romans 3:10 says, "There is
none righteous, no, not one".
Jesus is the only person who is referred to in Scripture as sinless.
Hebrews 4:15 says, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be
touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points
tempted like as we are, yet without sin." 2 Corinthians 5:21 says,
"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might
be made the righteousness of God in him." 1 Peter 2:22 says, "Who did
no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth".
In contrast, Mary said that God is her Savior. (Luke 1:47) If God was
her Savior, then Mary was not sinless. Sinless people do not need a
In the Book of Revelation, when they were searching for someone who was
worthy to break the seals and open the scroll, the only person who was
found to be worthy was Jesus. Nobody else in Heaven or on earth
(including Mary) was worthy to open the scroll or even look inside it.
PERPETUAL VIRGINITY -- Mary was a virgin before, during and after the
birth of Christ. ("Catechism" 496-511)
Matthew 1:24-25 says, "Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the
angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew
her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his
name JESUS." "Till" (until) means that after that point, Joseph did
"know" (have sexual relations with) Mary. (See Genesis 4:1 where Adam
"knew" Eve and she conceived and had a son.)
Jesus had brothers and sisters. The Bible even tells us their names.
Matthew 13:54-56 says, "
And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their
synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hatch
this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the
carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren,
James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not
all with us?"
Other Scripture verses which specifically refer to Jesus' brothers
are: Matthew 12:46; John 2:12; John 7:3; Acts 1:14; and Galatians 1:19.
I was always taught that "brothers" and "sisters" were general terms
that really could refer to any kind of kinsman, including cousins. This
is true in the Hebrew language. However, the New Testament is written
in Greek, which is an extremely precise language. It makes a clear
distinction between the words used to describe family relationships.
There is a Greek word which refers to people who are relatives but not
of the immediate family, such as aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and
cousins. There are other Greek words which refer specifically to a
person's brother or sister within a family. (Note 14)
MOTHER OF GOD -- Because she is the mother of Jesus, and Jesus is God,
therefore Mary is the Mother of God. ("Catechism" 963, 971, 2677).
The Incarnation means that Jesus was both fully God and fully man. Mary
was only the mother of Jesus as man, and not the mother of Jesus as
God. According to the Bible, the world was created through Jesus. This
was long before Mary was born. Hebrews 1:1-2 says,
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto
the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by
his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he
made the worlds".
Colossians 1:16-17 says,
"For by him [Jesus] were all things created, that are in heaven, and
that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or
dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things [including Mary]
were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things
[including Mary] , and by him all things consist".
John 8:58 says, "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you,
before Abraham was, I am." Jesus existed before Abraham was born. That
means that He also existed before Mary was born. In John 17:5, Jesus
says, "And now O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the
glory which I had with thee before the world was." So Jesus existed
even before the world began. Jesus came first -- not Mary.
MOTHER OF THE CHURCH -- Mary is the Mother of the Church. "Catechism"
Acts 1:13-14 gives a picture of a group of people praying together.
Mary is mentioned as one of them, but nothing indicates any special
"And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where
abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Phillip, and Thomas,
Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes,
and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in
prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus,
and with his brethren."
Mary was probably in the Upper Room when the tongues of fire fell upon
the 120 disciples. However, she is never mentioned again in the Book of
Acts, which is our only historical record of how the Church was born.
She is also not specifically identified in the epistles. Paul did send
greetings to "Mary", but that was a common name. (In the Gospels and in
the Book of Acts, she is referred to as "Mary the mother of Jesus" to
distinguish her from other women named Mary.)
It is notable that John, who took Mary into his home after Jesus was
crucified, does not mention her in his epistles, and he only mentions
her on two occasions in his Gospel (the wedding at Cana and the
crucifixion of Jesus). John mentions Mary Magdalene more than he
mentions Jesus' mother.
ASSUMPTION -- At the end of her life, Mary was taken up ("assumed")
body and soul into Heaven. ("Catechism" 966, 974)
There is no biblical reference to the assumption of Mary. The Gospel of
John was written around 90 A.D., which is more than 100 years after
Mary was born. (Surely Mary was more than ten years old when Jesus was
conceived.) If Mary had been supernaturally assumed into Heaven,
wouldn't John (the disciple that Mary lived with) have mentioned it?
When Enoch and Elijah were taken up to Heaven, the Bible recorded it.
With Elijah it was recorded in some detail. (See Genesis 6:24 and 2
The Assumption of Mary was officially declared to be a dogma of the
Roman Catholic faith in 1950. This means that every Roman Catholic is
required to believe this doctrine without questioning it. However, as
we will see, the teaching of the Assumption originated with heretical
writings which were officially condemned by the early Church.
In 495 A.D., Pope Gelasius issued a decree which rejected this teaching
as heresy and its proponents as heretics. In the sixth century, Pope
Hormisdas also condemned as heretics those authors who taught the
doctrine of the Assumption of Mary. The early Church clearly considered
the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary to be a heresy worthy of
condemnation. Here we have "infallible" popes declaring something to be
a heresy. Then in 1950, Pope Pius XII, another "infallible" pope,
declared it to be official Roman Catholic doctrine. (Note 15)
CO-MEDIATOR -- Mary is the Co-Mediator to whom we can entrust all our
cares and petitions. ("Catechism" 968-970, 2677)
There is only one mediator and that is Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 says,
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man
Christ Jesus: Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due
time." Hebrews 7:25 says,Wherefore he [Jesus] is able to save them to
the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make
intercession for them." Ephesians 3:12 says, "In whom [Jesus} we have
boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him."
If Jesus is constantly interceding for us and He is able to save us "to
the uttermost," (utterly, completely) then He doesn't need Mary's help.
If we can approach God with "boldness" and "confidence" because of our
faith in Jesus, then we don't need Mary's help either.
QUEEN OF HEAVEN -- God has exalted Mary in heavenly glory as Queen of
Heaven and earth. ("Catechism" 966) She is to be praised with special
devotion. ("Catechism" 971, 2675)
Psalm 148:13 says, "Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name
alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven." This
makes it quite clear that only God's name (not Mary's) is to be
exalted. (In Catholic Bibles the numbering of the chapters and verses
of some of the Psalms is slightly different.)
When people tried to give Mary special honor and pre-eminence because
she was His mother, Jesus corrected them.
"And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the
company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb
that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea
rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." (Luke
In chapters four and five of the Book of Revelation, we are given a
quite detailed picture of Heaven. God is seated on the throne,
surrounded by 24 elders and four living creatures. The Lamb (Jesus) is
standing in the center of the throne. Thousands upon thousands of
angels circle the throne, singing God's praises. And Mary is not in the
picture at all.
COMPARING CATHOLIC TEACHINGS ABOUT MARY
WITH MODERN GODDESS WORSHIP
Goddess worship is not ancient history. It is going on today. It is
practiced in Wicca and a variety of modern pagan religions. (Wicca is
a religion based on witchcraft. It involves goddess worship, rituals
The credibility of goddess worship has been increased through its
acceptance by university professors and its incorporation into
textbooks. Wiccan doctrines are being promoted in publicly funded,
accredited colleges and universities. Nursing school textbooks are
overtly promoting goddess worship, including textbooks written by the
National League for Nursing (an accrediting agency for nursing
schools). (Note 16)
In the following table, I will compare Catholicism's version of Mary
with the goddess who is worshiped by Wiccans and modern pagans. My
reason for doing this is that Wiccans and modern pagans live in modern
America. If I compared Catholic doctrine about Mary with the goddess
worship of ancient civilizations, it would seem remote and far removed
from the real world. It would seem like a legend instead of real life.
As we will see later in this article. Overt goddess worship has
infiltrated a number of main-line Protestant denominations. There have
been some conferences in which Catholics and representatives of various
Protestant groups worshiped the goddess Sophia and openly said that
Jesus Christ is irrelevant. (Later in this article I will give some
detailed information about those conferences, along with Internet
addresses of articles about them.)
All Christian groups need to guard against goddess worship. According
to the Bible, God's people are not supposed to worship any other
deities. The Old Testament prophets often rebuked the people of Israel
for worshiping "foreign gods." The people who worshiped the goddess
Sophia at those conferences were doing the same kind of thing that the
ancient Israelites did. They claimed to be God's people, but they were
worshiping a "foreign god." (In this case, a goddess rather than a
The following table compares the Mary of Roman Catholic theology and
religious practices with the Biblical portrayal of Mary and with the
goddess who is worshipped by Wiccans. If you do an Internet search for
"Queen of Heaven," you will find two kinds of websites--Catholic
and Wiccan. You can also find websites showing that Wiccans call
themselves the "hidden children" of their goddess. (Note 17 tells
how to find them.)
Humble and obedient. Calls herself "the handmaid of the Lord."
The Pope officially gave Mary the title "Queen of Heaven" and
established a feast day honoring Mary, Queen of Heaven.
Wiccans call their goddess the "Queen of Heaven".
Knew she needed a savior: "And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my
saviour." (Luke 1:47)
"Immaculate Conception" (Mary was conceived sinless, without original
sin) and "All-Holy" (Mary lived a sinless life).
Goddesses don't need salvation. They make the rules.
Normal wife and mother who had other children.
"Perpetual Virginity" (Jesus' brothers and sisters are considered to be
Goddesses don't have human children.
No biblical evidence that Mary didn't die like a normal person.
"Glorious Assumption" (Mary was bodily taken up into Heaven).
Goddesses don't die.
Jesus told John to take Mary into his home and take care of her as if
she was his own mother.
Catholics are the adopted children of Mary. "Woman behold your son"
(John 19:26) is taken to apply literally to every Catholic.
Witches are the adopted, "hidden children" of the Queen of Heaven.
Sometimes pictured standing on a crescent moon, wearing a crown or with
a circle of stars around her head.
Supernatural (apparitions accompanied by miracles and healings).
Points people to Jesus. Mary said, "Whatsoever he saith unto you, do
it." (John 2:5)
Can make Jesus do things. A full page newspaper ad showing Mary and
Jesus says, "He hasn't denied her anything in 2,000 years. What would
you have her ask Him?" This is not official Catholic doctrine but it is
a widespread attitude which is encouraged by pious literature.
Points to herself.
Wants to be worshipped.
Knew that she needed a savior. (Luke 1:47)
Apparitions of "Mary" have promised that if people wear certain objects
(such as a Scapular or Miraculous Medal) or say certain prayers then
they are guaranteed to go to Heaven. The Catholic Church has not
officially approved of these practices, but it has also not discouraged
Invoked to make supernatural things happen through witchcraft (the use
of special objects and special verbal formulas).
Goddesses don't need a savior.
Goddess worship has infiltrated main-line Christian denominations. In
November 1993, a Re-Imagining Conference was held in Minneapolis,
Minnesota. Most of the 2,000 participants were women. This ecumenical
church conference was sponsored by and attended by members of over a
dozen denominations, including Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Catholics,
Lutherans and Methodists. They prayed to Sophia, the goddess of Wisdom,
calling her their Creator. They did rituals for this goddess, including
a communion service where bread and wine were replaced by milk and
honey. They openly rejected the doctrines of the incarnation and the
atonement. This conference was repeated in 1996, 1998 and 2000. (Note
There are Wiccan web sites with web pages devoted to individual
goddesses. The Virgin Mary is included among the goddesses of the
following web sites: The Spiral Goddess Grove, The White Moon, and
Goddess 2000. They consider Mary to be the "Divine Feminine" and say
that for centuries, many people have "blended" their ancient goddesses
with Mary. (Note 19)
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
How did modern Catholic doctrine about Mary wander so far away from the
teachings of the Bible and the Early Fathers? Two reasons are the
importance given to Church tradition and the doctrine of papal
The Catholic Church officially states that Church tradition is equal in
authority to the Bible. ("Catechism" 80, 84, 86, 97) The problem is
that Catholic tradition consists of various expressions of worship and
belief of the Catholic people. ("Catechism" 78, 98, 113, 2650, 2661) It
is nebulous. It keeps changing. You cannot find it written in one
place. You can't really put your hands on exactly what it is.
The Early Fathers used Scripture as the standard against which they
tested Church tradition. The modern Catholic doctrine that Church
tradition is equal in authority with the Bible is contrary to the
writings of the Early Fathers. (Note 20)
According to Jesus, Scripture is the plumb line for measuring
everything else. He judged religious traditions by comparing them to
Scripture. When religious traditions contradicted Scripture, he
condemned them. This shows clearly that nothing is equal in authority
to Scripture. The Bible stands alone as the standard by which all other
things are to be judged.
"Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes,
which came from Jerusalem. And when they saw some of his disciples eat
bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found
fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their
hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they
come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other
things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of
cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. Then the Pharisees and
scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the
tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered
and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as
it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their
heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for
doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of
God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and
many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye
reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For
Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and Whoso curseth father
or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his
father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever
thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no
more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God
of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and
many such like things do ye." (Mark 7:1-13)
According to the official teaching of the Catholic Church, Catholic men
and women are not allowed to believe what they read in the Bible
without checking it out with the Catholic Church. They are required to
find out how the bishops of the Church interpret a passage and they are
to accept what the bishops teach as if it came from Jesus Christ
Himself. They are not allowed to use their own judgment or follow their
own conscience. They are required to believe whatever the bishops teach
without questioning it. ("Catechism" 85, 87, 100, 862, 891, 939, 2034,
2037, 2041, 2050)
The Catholic Church teaches that when the bishops officially teach
doctrine relating to faith and morals, then God supernaturally prevents
them from making any errors. This is called "infallibility". It applies
to official councils, such as the Second Vatican Council. It also
applies to other teachings, as long as the bishops and the Pope are in
agreement about them. ("Catechism" 890, 891, 939, 2033, 2034, 2049)
The Pope is said to be infallible whenever he makes an official decree
on matters of faith and morals. According to Catholic doctrine, it is
impossible for the Pope to teach false doctrine. Catholics are expected
to obey the Pope without question even when he is not making an
"infallible" statement about doctrine. They are expected to submit
their wills and minds to the Pope without question. ("Catechism" 892,
The Early Fathers, and the theologians and canon lawyers of the Middle
Ages, never taught that the bishops or the Pope were infallible. This
is demonstrated by the fact that in 680 A.D. the Sixth Ecumenical
Council condemned a pope as a heretic. It was not until the fourteenth
century that the theory of infallibility began to emerge. With the
development of this theory came a change in the interpretation of some
biblical passages. (Note 21)
The history of the early Church shows that the Bishop of Rome was
considered to be just another bishop. For example, Pope Gregory
(590-604 A.D.) explicitly stated that all of the bishops were equal. He
specifically repudiated the idea that any one bishop could be the
supreme ruler of the Church. (Note 22)
The claim for papal infallibility does not stand up to the test of
history. For example, Pope Zosimus (417-418 A.D.) reversed the
pronouncement of a previous pope. He also retracted a doctrinal
pronouncement that he himself had previously made. Pope Honorious was
condemned as a heretic by the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680-681 A.D.).
He was also condemned as a heretic by Pope Leo II, as well as by every
other pope until the eleventh century. So here we have "infallible"
popes condemning another "infallible" pope as a heretic. In 1870, the
First Vatican Council abolished "infallible" papal decrees and the
decrees of two "infallible" councils. (Note 23)
In the seventeenth century, the Catholic church officially condemned
Galileo as a heretic because he taught that the earth revolves around
the sun. This did not conflict with the Bible or with the teachings of
the Early Fathers. However, it was contrary to seventeenth century
Catholic theology. The Greek philosopher Aristotle taught that the sun
revolves around the earth. Aristotle influenced Thomas Aquinas, a
thirteenth century theologian and "doctor of the Church" whose theology
had a major impact on the Catholic Church. Some modern astronomers
believe that Galileo was right. Others believe that Einstein's theory
of relativity makes the question irrelevant. (Note 24) Either way,
Galileo was not a heretic for disagreeing with Aristotle. The
"infallible" pronouncement of the Catholic Church regarding Galileo's
teaching was wrong.
Have you ever wondered what an "infallible" papal declaration is
really like? Here is an example of one.
On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX declared the dogma of the Immaculate
Conception of Mary. After defining the dogma, the Pope said that if any
person dares to "think otherwise than as has been defined by us" they
thereby shipwreck their faith, are cut off from the Church, and stand
condemned because of it. The Pope went on to say that if any person
says, or writes, or in any other way outwardly expresses "the errors he
thinks in his heart," then they thereby "subject themselves to the
penalties established by law". (Note 25 gives a link to this papal
bull. You can read it for yourself.)
The Pope's reference to legal penalties is significant because a man
had been executed for heresy 28 years before this papal bull was
issued. In 1826, a Spanish schoolmaster was hanged because he
substituted the phrase "Praise be to God" in place of "Ave Maria"
("Hail Mary") during school prayers. (Note 26)
On May 13, 1981, a man shot Pope John Paul II. As the ambulance carried
him to the hospital, the Pope kept praying, "Mary, my mother! Mary, my
mother!" One year later, the Pope made a pilgrimage to Fatima to thank
Our Lady of Fatima for saving his life and to consecrate the entire
human race to her. (Note 27) The video "Catholicism: Crisis of Faith"
shows the Pope kissing the feet of a statue of Mary. (Note 28)
Millions of pilgrims go to shrines which honor apparitions of Mary.
Every year fifteen to twenty million pilgrims go to Guadalupe in
Mexico, five and a half million go to Lourdes in France, five million
go to Czestochowa (Jasna Gora) in Poland, and four and a half million
go to Fatima in Portugal. Special dates draw huge crowds. On August 15,
half a million pilgrims go to Czestochowa. On October 13, a million
people go to Fatima. On December 12, 1999, five million pilgrims went
to Mexico to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe. (Note 29)
Are these pilgrims worshipping Mary? You can observe them and see for
yourself, thanks to a video entitled "Messages from Heaven".
(Information about this video is given following the Bibliography.)
If you watch the video, you will see the Pope bow in front of a
painting of Mary and cover the area with incense. You will see a
million pilgrims walking in a procession, following a statue of Our
Lady of Fatima and singing songs in her honor. You will see several
million people in a procession following a painting of Our Lady of
Guadalupe. You will see people weeping and raising their arms towards
Mary. You will see the largest assembly of bishops and cardinals since
the Second Vatican Council, gathered together to join Pope John Paul II
in solemnly consecrating the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of
Mary. (You can watch this video online.) (Note 30)
KINDS OF WORSHIP
There are many traditional ways of expressing devotion to Mary. You can
read about some of them online and decide for yourself whether or not
these constitute worship. (Note 31)
Catholic theologians speak of three degrees of homage, which have Latin
words. "Latria" is the kind of worship which is due to God alone.
"Dulia" is appropriate for honoring the saints. "Hyperdulia" is
appropriate for honoring Mary. It is higher than "dulia" but not
"latria". Therefore, Catholic theologians say that Catholics do not
However, in the practical, down-to-earth, real world, these
theological distinctions don't work. Most Catholics have never heard
of these words. Of those who have, how many know how to apply them in
practical ways? Catholics are not told how to engage in
"hyperdulia" without crossing a line that results in actually
practicing "latria" towards Mary without realizing it.
When asked about praying to Mary and the saints, I always used to say
that actually I was just asking them to pray for me, like I would ask a
friend. Well, that is not really accurate, because when I talk to my
friends I am not talking to people who have died. Also, I just ask them
directly for what I want. I would never begin talking to my friends by
saying something like: "Hail holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life,
our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children
I personally participated in many kinds of Marian devotions.
("Marian" means something relating to the Virgin Mary.) I prayed
the Rosary, which uses beads to keep track of the prayers. There are
ten "Hail Mary's" for every "Our Father" (the Lord's
Prayer). The words of the Hail Mary are: "Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the
fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners
now and at the hour of our death."
I wore the Brown Scapular (two pieces of cloth attached with strings,
worn in honor of Mary). I also wore the Miraculous Medal. Both the
Brown Scapular and the Miraculous Medal resulted from apparitions of
Mary. There are special prayers associated with them. The apparitions
of Mary promised to help people who were faithful to these devotions. I
went to special services where we recited litanies (a series of titles
honoring her), prayed to her, and sang songs in her honor, or else
recited the words of the songs. I participated in a procession where
people carried a statue of Mary, and we all followed it, singing songs
in her honor. I visited several Marian shrines. I read books about
apparitions of Mary, and dreamed of some day going to Lourdes.
I did not realize that what I was doing was actually a form of
worship. I thought that it was pleasing to God. I thought that Jesus
wanted us to honor His mother in this way.
Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man,
but the end thereof are the ways of death." Our minds can be deceived
and so can the minds of bishops and popes. Only the Bible is totally
trustworthy. When religious traditions conflict with the plain meaning
of Scripture then we need to discard those traditions. We cannot afford
to do otherwise, because our eternal destiny is at stake.
The Apostles told the religious leaders of their day, "We ought to obey
God rather than men." (Acts 5:29b) As an old hymn says, "On Christ the
solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand."
If you are not persuaded that Catholicism encourages and even requires
a level of "devotion" to Mary that really is a form of worship, then I
challenge you to ask God what He thinks about it. If you are sincere in
your prayer and open to letting God show you the truth, then He will.
I welcome correspondence, but I don't do debating. My email address is:
I have a website with an online book and over 50 articles. It is:
Go to Bibliography, Resources, and End Notes
USE OF THIS ARTICLE
I encourage you to link to this article. You have permission to quote
from this article, as long as you do it fairly and accurately. You have
permission to make copies of this article for friends and for use in
The information in this article is the result of many years of personal
struggle and search for truth. I want to make it as easy as possible
for people to get this information and to pass it on to anyone who
might be helped by it.
May the Lord bless, guide, and reveal His truth to everyone who reads
Mary Ann Collins
July 1, 2001
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