Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 1:
They do not worship relics as they worship God, by adoration. If you mean worship in the sense of honor or veneration, then Catholics certainly venerate the relics of Saints. The law, "Honor thy father and thy mother" extends to their persons, body and soul; to their reputations, and to all connected with them. We reverence their remains even after death. And if we are not to venerate the remains and relics of the Saints who have been so entirely consecrated to God, are we to desecrate them? Or are we to be blandly indifferent to them as to the bleached bones of some dead animal lying in the fields? The Catholic doctrine, forbidding adoration, yet commanding respect and veneration, is the only possible Christian conduct.
No real difficulty arises in this matter. No one holds that material relics of themselves possess any innate talismanic value. But God Himself can certainly grant favors even of a temporal nature through the relics of Saints, thus honoring His Saints, and rewarding the faith and piety of some given Catholic. St. Matthew tells us that the diseased came to Christ. "And they besought Him that they might touch but the hem of His garment. And as many as touched were made whole." Matt. XIV., 36. Again we read of a woman who touched the hem of Christ's garment and who was cured. "And Jesus, knowing in Himself the virtue that had proceeded from Him, said: 'Who has touched my garments.5 " Mk. V., 30. You may reply that these incidents concerned Christ, and that, whilst he was still living in this world. But that does not affect the principle that God can grant temporal favors through inanimate things. And if you look up 2 Kings, XIII., 21, in your own Protestant version of the Bible, you will find that a dead man, who was being buried in the sepulchre of Elisha, was restored to life the moment his body came into contact with the bones of that great prophet of God. In the Acts of the Apostles, too, we read of a most Catholic, and most un-Protestant procedure. "God wrought by the hand of Paul more than common miracles. So that even there were brought from his body to the sick, handkerchiefs and aprons, and the diseases departed from them." Acts XIX., 11-12. But you will notice that it was God who wrought these miracles. And we Catholics say that God can quite easily do similar things even in our own days. As a matter of historical fact, He has wrought such things throughout the course of the ages within the Catholic Church.
No. The Catholic Church is very prudent in this matter, and her law declares that those relics alone may be publicly venerated which have authentic documents accompanying them, and proving them to be genuine. These documents can be given only by one authorized by the Holy See to grant them. If the documents be lost, no relic may be offered for public veneration by the faithful without a special decree from a Bishop who can guarantee the relic as genuine. But even should a Catholic venerate as a relic some object which is not authentic, such veneration is at least well meant, and directed towards the one whom the object is believed to represent.