By OLAYINKA LATONA
The Catholic Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Most Rev. Hilary Paul Okeke has denied claims that the church worships Mary and other saints, saying that all the church does is to venerate Mary, being the mother of Jesus Christ.
The bishop made the clarification while delivering his homily at the Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help/Parish Day Celebration of Saints Michael, Raphael and Gabriel Catholic Church, Satellite Town, Lagos at the Trade Fair Complex, Ojo, in Lagos.
Speaking on the theme; “Mary Mother of our Families”, Bishop Okeke said only those who lack understanding of the word of God that describe Catholic faithful as idol worshippers, adding that Mary was among those who participated in the work of redemption.
In his words: “We do not worship idols as most people think. Those who lack understanding of the word of God equate our worship for the one true God with support from images and symbols as idolatry. We worship God, worship Jesus Christ and we honour Mary and the Saints. Their images in churches and homes before us represent holiness, sacraments and signs of their presence in our life.
“Let us venerate Mary, Mother of perpetual help for in venerating her, we are going to Jesus Christ. Let us have her images in our individual homes as it will draw us to holiness, remember our vocations, her images will draw us closer to Christ and do whatever Jesus Christ commands us to do,” the bishop added.
Continuing, the bishop said: “We need Mary to help us to overcome in whatever we do, to overcome various challenges in our families, marital and extra marital co-affairs and sex, polygamy, same sex union, divorce and suffering homes. Young ladies need Mary in order not to forsake their Catholic faith by marrying outside the church.”
Also speaking, the parish priest, Rev. Fr. Vincent Ezezue said Catholics only acknowledge Mary as the virgin mother of Jesus Christ, urging all Catholic families to pray the rosary together, adding that the rosary is a meditative prayer that invites members to reflect on the mysteries of Mary’s life with Jesus.