Are Catholics forbidden from joining YMCA?


I recently paid for a YMCA gym membership. I am a college student and have stress, scrupulosity and anxiety issues that have led me to to seek out healthy distractions and hobbies. Additionally, my workout discipline has been very compromised in the last two years (probably a lot to do with the interference of my mental health state) and I wanted to renew regular exercise yo improve myself. I like to run, but I live in a part of the country that is quite cold in the winters, so running outdoors during this season is not ideal. Anyways, I was looking up information about the history of YMCA and quickly became concerned about whether Catholics are obliged to not be involved with the organization. I also started panicking a bit when wondering whether YMCA at the national or local levels has financially supported Planned Parenthood. Now my conscience is troubling me.

As regards the first issue, please see here:

Someone might point out that this document is from 60 years ago. But that doesn’t tell me whether it is still binding. Mere passage of time doesn’t release Catholics from imposed obligations. Such requires that said obligation/disciplinary rule be abolished or changed. Someone else might point out that this document is for Catholics in the Philippines. But since the documents pertains to faith and morals, it raises the question of whether all other Catholics are implicated.


This isn’t a direct response to your question, but the YMCA’s, at least in the U.S., are no longer what they were, for the most part. The Y’s I’m familiar with have become quasi-commercialized unisex health clubs. The “M” isn’t even operative as half or more of the clientele seem to be women. I cant recall the last time I heard of a functioning YWCA. There are infant swimming lessons, babysitting classes, nutrition seminars, health and exercise coaches – all kinds of such programs. In the early-to-mid 20th Century the Y did a lot more along the lines of non-denominational “character / morality” building among single and transient men. I think the nature of the Y has fundamentally changed since a bishop’s conference last opined on the subject.

I recall hearing such anti-YMCA cautions as a boy in the 50’s, but I got the impression that the basis for that was the fact that as a (then) all-male environment, all the swimming was done without a suit (the horror!). That’s changed, too. I know several priests who belong to the Y and work out there regularly.


Thank you or your response! It was informative, and helpful to someone like me who is relatively young and has limited experience with the Y or exposure to is mission.


according to this page, YMCA is one of the corps/charities who is known to have supported PP in one way or another in the past.

You can take this in more than one way, however. It says includes affiliates. So if a couple of branches in another state supported a walk or some such thing, in the past, does that necessarily mean that you need to never join the Y? I’m not sure about that. If you feel that it is triggering your scrupulosity, then take a few minutes to speak with your priest. IMHO, I think you will be best off joining and gaining health and well being benefits. the Y is a charity in itself, and could not be much of a supporter of another organization.

God Bless.


The hard fact is no, Catholics are not forbidden from joining the YMCA.


I never trust lists like that, as they are so broad, non-specific, and undocumented. They remind me of the tactics of Senator Joseph McCarthy. I have seen similar lists impugn perfectly respectable national organizations because one local manager in one small office, on his own, sponsored some local event that was co-sponsored by an offending organization. Such lists also get out of date but seem little interested in being corrected.


This.:thumbsup: Enjoy the Y and gain the health benefits from being a member.


I certainly hope Catholics are permitted to join, because one of the chaplains at our local “Y” is a priest. Yes, we can join, I am a senior and joined through the Silver Sneakers program affiliated with Medicare. We have a beautiful facility with gyms, workout areas, an indoor pool, an outdoor pool, a children’s pool, an outdoor track, picnic areas, etc. We are very blessed. Why should we deny ourselves membership in the “Y” just because it is not a specifically Catholic organization?

I am also on board with the poster who said he doesn’t pay attention to “lists” of organizations that someone put together claiming these businesses and organizations support PP and other things. I consider this hearsay, and agree with the reasoning of the other poster.


good to know, thank you!


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