Need help answering: Papal Encyclical admits Marian Worship


Sorry… Please move this to Apologetics… wasn’t thinking… not sure which Apologetics sub-forum, however

I wasn’t sure to put this in apologetics or here. This was posted on an anti-catholic website (most of us know who) and I was wondering how to refute it. (I should start coming back here, apologetics is wearing me out).


  1. It is therefore, a pleasure for us, a full century having passed since the Pontiff of immortal memory, Pius IX, solemnly proclaimed this singular privilege of the Virgin Mother of God, to summarize the whole doctrinal position and conclude in these words of the same Pontiff, asserting that this doctrine “vouched for in Sacred Scripture according to the interpretation of the Fathers, is handed down by them in so many of their important writings, is expressed and celebrated in so many illustrious monuments of renowned antiquity, and proposed and confirmed by the greatest and highest decision of the Church” (Bull Ineffabilis Deus), so that to pastors and faithful there is nothing "more sweet, nothing dearer than to worship, venerate, invoke and praise with ardent affection the Mother of God conceived without stain of original sin. (Ibidem.)
    [note that ‘worship’ and ‘venerate’ used together]

  2. And since in all cities, towns and villages, wherever the Christian religion thrives, there is a sanctuary, or at least an altar, in which the sacred image of the Blessed Virgin Mary is enshrined for the devotion of the Christian people, We desire, Venerable Brethren, that the faithful should throng thither in great numbers and should offer to our Most Sweet Mother not only private but also public supplications with one voice and with one mind.
    [sanctuary or an altar for what if Mary is not a diety?]

  3. But where - as is the case in almost all dioceses, there exists a church in which the Virgin Mother of God is worshipped with more intense devotion, thither on stated days let pilgrims flock together in great numbers and publicly and in the open give glorious expression to their common Faith and their common love toward the Virgin Most Holy. We have no doubt that this will be done in an especial manner at the Grotto of Lourdes, where there is such ardent devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary conceived without stain of sin.

  4. But let this holy city of Rome be the first to give the example, this city which from the earliest Christian era worshipped the heavenly mother, its patroness, with a special devotion. As all know, there are many sacred edifices here, in which she is proposed for the devotion of the Roman people; but the greatest without doubt is the Liberian Basilica, in which the mosaics of Our predecessor of pious memory, Sixtus III, still glisten, an outstanding monument to the Divine maternity of the Virgin Mary, and in which the “salvation of the Roman people” (Salus Populi Romani) benignly smiles. Thither especially let the suppliant citizens flock, and before that most sacred image let all put forth pious prayers, imploring especially that Rome, which is the principal city of the Catholic world, may also give the lead in Faith, in piety and in sanctity. We address you, children of Rome, in the words of Our predecessor of saintly memory, Leo the Great, “For although the whole world, should flourish with all the virtues, you, however, above all other peoples, should especially excel in deeds of piety, you who are founded on the citadel of the Apostolic rock, you whom Our Lord, Jesus Christ redeemed with all and the Blessed Apostle Peter instructed above all.” (Sermon III , 14; Migne, PL, LIV, 147-148).

Given at St. Peter’s Rome, on the eighth day of September, on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the year 1953, the fifteenth of Our Pontificate.

Thank you, I appreciate your responses.



Well, it would be nice to read these parts in Latin, as I think this would cast some light on the matter. Can’t seem to find it thought and I don’t speak Latin anyways. So maybe someone else could do that.

But what I will say is this. As far as I know, in the past the word worship had a different meaning. Yes, God, Mary, and other Saints and Angels are worshiped in a sense. This worship was divided into three categories. Latria (for God), dulia (for Saints) and hyperdulia (for Mary).

So in other words, it’s a translation issue…


You’ve got nothing to worry about except more Fundamentalist shenanigans. Gandalf is exactly right, it is a matter of translation- the word “worship” has been in used in the English language of antiquity (and not in our day, or at least not very much these days) to indicate not just the reverence and devotion due to God alone but also the high respects we might pay to a distinguished public figure or someone in a position of great authority and, in the case of the Church, the honor bestowed on the saints and especially the Blessed Virgin Mary. Karl Keating has a section of one of his chapters in Catholicism and Fundamentalism devoted to this very topic-using the term “worship” in regards to the homage paid to Mary. It is very illuminating and deflates fundamentalist windbags who seek to paint the Church as idolatrous. If I weren’t pressed for time I would present that excerpt for you. What would be more worrying is if we saw an encyclical that urged us to “adore” the Blessed Virgin, as “adoration/adore” is the terminology typically reserved by the Church to signify only the worship due to God alone.


it seems there’s a fourth: protodulia (for St. Joseph).

Just the thing for one of those “How Catholic Are You ?” quizzes :slight_smile:


No Papal encyclical admits to Marian worship. It is that plain and simple. Don’t trust what the Fundagelicals (Fundamentalist Evangelicals) tell you.


I remember there was something written by Pope John Paul II that was translated by one source to say Marian worship, every other translation said Marian devotion. Well David Cloud, an anti-catholic preacher jumped all over the one saying Marian worship, and said: “See, I told you they worship Mary”.


I would say that this is a translation. The original was written in Latin. I only found the English version of the Vatican website and it does use the word ‘worship’. However, I would hazard a guess that the original word used was hyperdulia rather than the latria due to God alone. It is the same sort of worship like when you call a judge “Your Worship”, or a man is said to worship his true love, or that you idolise someone. No one ever takes that to mean the worship due to God, but the lesser ‘worship’ that is acceptable for humans. No one really thinks that the person who wins American Idol is going to be worshipped, although, from the reaction of some people, you could be led to believe that they do. In fact, from observing some non-Catholic Christians around here, I would say that they worship their pastor, just from their behaviour towards him, how he seems to be the center of their church and from the devastating effect on their church when the he leaves.

Mostly, imo, this is a problem for those who have redefined the term "worship’ to mean that ‘only’ due to God. They then seek to impose their definition on others and refuse to accept it when they are corrected and told that this is not the same sort of worship. Even when confronted with numerous examples of the word ‘worship’ being used in every day speech to mean other than the worship of God, they insist that theirs is the only definition and that, in terms of our Blessed Mother, we are elevating her to be equal with God. Even when we insist that we are not giving to Mary what is due to God alone, they stubbornly tell us that we are. I personally found this to be offensive, essentially being told that I was lying or was somehow worshiping Mary as Deity without knowing it.

Perhaps someone who has a link to this document in Latin can shed some light on this.


The word worship has change throughout the ages. So the context of the word worship differs than it was 100-500 yrs ago…


If the above is Worship…

…is this Worship??

Luke 14:7-14 (KJV)

7 And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, 8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. 10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: **then shalt thou have worship **in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. 11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. 12 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. 13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: 14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

Both are examples of proper, though archaic, usages of the word “worship” and in both cases are clearly meant to express the bestowal of great honor and veneration on a person, far short of that worship that is given to God alone.


Try reading Karl Keating’s “*Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on ‘Romanism’ by ‘Bible Christians’” * The chapter on Marian beliefs clearly discusses this ‘worship’ point… :slight_smile:


Ok… Thank you all… I am not worried about it, I just wasn’t sure how to respond to it. Some faithful catholics, though, took over the thread and posted all that was said here… and much much more. It was great :smiley:

Thank you all for your responses though, it taught me something new



DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit