Roman Catholics pray to Mary and give her adoration. When protestants object and say this is giving Mary undue worship, Catholics respond with their official doctrine of making a distinction between what is given Mary and what is given Jesus. Thomas Aquinas explains the distinction in his Summa Theologica, III.25.5. Here he makes a distinction between latria, which is full worship, and hyperdulia, which is high adoration.
Since latria is due to God alone, it is not due to a creature so far as we venerate a creature for its own sake. . . Since, therefore, the Blessed Virgin is a mere rational creature, the worship of latria is not due to her, but only the veneration of dulia; but in a higher degree than to other creatures, since she is the Mother of God. for this reason we say that not any kind of dulia is due her but hyperdulia.
Thus Aquinas and RCC theologians ever since have claimed that Mary is not receiving true worship (latria) but is given high adoration (hyperdulia).
It is interesting to note what Aquinas says in the two questions just prior, III.25.3-4, where he says Christians can give full worship, latria, to created images of Christ and the cross. Aquinas says that since worship of a carved or painted wooden image of Christ is worship of the person of Christ,
the same reverence should be shown to Christ’s image as to Christ Himself. Since, therefore, Christ is adored with the adoration of latria, it follows that His image should be adored with the adoration of latria.
Speaking of the cross of Christ, Aquinas says:
In each way it is worshiped with the same adoration as Christ–namely, the adoration of latria. And for this reason also we speak to the cross and pray to it, as to the Crucified Himself. But if we speak of the effigy of Christ’s cross in any other material whatsoever–for instance, in stone or wood, silver or gold–thus we venerate the cross merely as Christ’s image, which we worship with the adoration of latria, as stated above.
Thus Aquinas makes a distinction between two forms of adoration for Mary, saying she is due hyperdulia and not latria, while a carved image of Jesus or His cross is due full worship, latria.
In practice, such theological distinctions split hairs so fine that it is a distinction in name only, certainly a distinction so fine that it requires special theological glasses to see it. The average person in mass on Sunday mornings will not practice a difference between these.
The problem is not limited to the untrained folk. As I have shown in another blog post, theologians with the highest theological degrees from the best Roman Catholic seminaries publish teaching material with the proper imprimaturs that include horrible errors that confuse the works of God with the works of Mary. (see this post on Devotion to Mary)
So we must disagree with Aquinas on these points. The usually revered theologian has gone off the rails here, saying that Christians can worship a folded paper creation of the cross with the same worship as due God. To do so creates an idol, and no created thing can be worshiped, even if it is an image of Christ, for the sinful heart of man always transfers the worship to the object. This is why God was so strict in preventing images being before the worshiping masses in the Old Testament.