Do Catholics violate God's teaching on graven images?

When God instructed his people not to make carved images of things in heaven above and the earth below and worship them what exactly did he mean?

Do Catholics and other churches who have carved images of Christ, Mary, and the saints violate this commandment?

My intuition says that since they do not worship the statues but rather use the images to lead them to worship the triune God that perhaps this is the key distinction?
Can someone explain the RC position on this?
Thank you for your time.

Dear friend,

You’ve got it right. Leviticus 26:1 states quite plainly: “You shall make for yourselves no idols and erect no graven image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land, to bow down to them; for I am the Lord your God.” God’s concern is that they not worship graven images; not that they could not have them. In Exodus 25:18 God actually commands Moses: “And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat.” Not only does God command them to fashion two graven golden images of angels; He has then placed in the Holy of Holies where the Ten Commandments were kept.

So much for isolating individual passages from the rest of Scripture!

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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