And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. (Acts 10:25-26)Catholics and other Christians of all denominations rightly use this verse to show that human beings should not receive divine worship (latria), the honor and service due God alone. Anti-Catholics, however, try to use it against Catholicism, since they think we worship saints and the pope.
This is simply untrue, Catholics do not worship saints or the Pope. We certainly love and honor the Successor to St. Peter because he is our spiritual father and the representative of Christ on earth. But he is not God, nor do we consider him to be God or equal to Christ. A search through Catholics catechisms and textbooks for such a teaching will come up empty, for we just don't believe that the pope is God!
Don't mistake the kissing of the pope's ring for worship. The ring is a symbol of his authority, and by kissing it we acknowledge his spiritual authority over us. This is not at all an act of latria, we do not intend it as such!
Though many anti-Catholics don't believe that St. Peter was the first Pope, they will use this verse to try to prove that it is wrong to pay any kind of homage to the Holy Father: "See? the Apostle Peter, whom you think was the first pope, refused homage..." etc. But what St. Peter refused was divine worship, not homage. He said "I myself am also a man"; in other words, "Don't offer me the worship due God alone; I am but a man like you, and no man deserves divine worship".
Catholics agree completely with Acts 10:25-26, when rightly understood. No mere human being is to receive latria; not the pope, not the saints in heaven, not even the Blessed Virgin Mary, the highest of all mere creatures. Our supreme worship belongs to the Blessed Trinity alone!
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