Dropping of Saints Causes Confusion
LAST May Catholics were shocked by front-page newspaper stories that announced the dropping of many of their saints from the Church’s official liturgical calendar. Many Catholics evidently understood “dropped” to mean the abolishing of their saints. Confusion and discontent were widespread, and have not died out.
A retired school principal in Argentina said: “What I can’t explain is how after so many centuries of worshiping saints just recently the Church declares that it must not be done.”
A young man in the Netherlands observed: “Either our forbears have always been cheated or we are now.”
Especially were Catholics disturbed in sections of Italy where demoted St. Januarius is worshiped. “Heavens! What on earth are you saying!” exclaimed one woman when the news was brought to her. “One doesn’t understand anything anymore. I believe in St. Januarius and I’ll keep him.”
What do these changes mean? Does the Catholic Church now prohibit veneration of saints? Are religious medals to be discarded?
It depends upon where one lives as to what is practiced. In some places images of saints have been discarded from Catholic churches. Thus a Catholic woman in Canada lamented: “Nothing is the same; they have taken down the statues; even the Virgin Mary had to go from our church.”
But in other places little, if any, change has occurred. Catholics still venerate their favorite saints, even though these have been officially ‘dropped’ or ‘downgraded.’ A Catholic in a South American country observed: “The Church’s declaration is ambiguous, because the Church says that in those towns where these are patron saints there is nothing wrong in continuing the worship of them.”
It has caused many persons to wonder: Is it proper for a religion to discard images as wrong in certain places, and yet permit the use of them in worship in other places? Could Almighty God approve of a religious organization that tolerates practices that are so opposed?—2 Cor. 6:14-16.
A Stand for Truth?
True religion does its utmost to correct error and inform people of the truth. Yet, when the Vatican announcement regarding the dropped saints was made last spring, the official spokesman for New York city’s Cardinal Cooke commented: “These changes are not really surprising, as for many, many years there has been doubt as to whether some of these saints were actually saints or simply revered, legendary heroes.”
Yes, religious leaders of the Catholic Church for a long time knew that these saints probably never existed, yet they tolerated and even encouraged veneration of them. And they still do! In fact, after the announcement about the dropping of the saints was made, a Vatican weekly observed: “If a saint really never existed God would still see the faith of him who prays [to the saint] and listen to his supplication.”
But is this really true? Does God approve of prayers said to “saints”? Jesus Christ made clear the only way of approach to God, saying: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6, Douay) These words of Jesus clearly rule out any approach to God by means of prayers said to “saints.”
Furthermore, there is nothing in the Bible to show that a religious organization can create “saints.” God is the one who sanctifies humans, setting them apart for his holy service. (1 Thess. 5:23) But even those whom God sanctifies are not to be venerated, as evidenced by the fact that Cornelius was not permitted to do obeisance to the apostle Peter. The Bible shows that worshiping even an angel is wrong.—Acts 10:25, 26; Rev. 19:10.
Is it not evident, therefore, that the Catholic Church has not been holding fast to God’s truth, and that this has contributed to the religious confusion? But there are still other disturbing changes.