Attending a Protestant Church


Many martyrs died to not listen to a single protestant sermon after the Protestant revolt.

I completely understand feeling not good there, especially with the bashing of Catholicism.
But, I am no canon lawyer.
I don’t know where charity and patience begin and complicit-ness ends.


The attacks on Catholicism are a valid reason not to attend. Your silent presence makes it look like you either agree or do not object to the anti-Catholic sentiment. Would your in-laws attend a Catholic service where the priest attacked Presbyterians and the Presbyterian church? Offer to meet them after church for brunch…


Meh, me and my parents do when we go to the Catholic church my wife and kids’ are members at. The priest tends to take subtle (and not so subtle) jabs at non-Catholics in the homily or in the bulletin. I just put my happy face on and go when they go.


I am American and my wife is South Korean, we are currently living in the US but are planning to go back. I speak Korean fluently after living there for many years.

There are a lot of Korean Catholics, but even more Presbyterians in South Korea. Presbyterians are the largest denomination and then Catholicism.


After posting I did some more research.

From what I understand Popes have condemned going to Protestant churches, like when my parents were young they couldn’t go, it was forbidden. That’s why it was hard to set foot in a Protestant church in the first place.

I found a quote from Pope Piux XI’s encylical, graves ac diuturnae

“They [Catholics] should totally shun their [Protestants] religious celebrations, their buildings”

“They should shun their writings and all contact with them. They should not have any dealings or meetings with usurping priests and apostates from the faith.”

and then Pope Pius XI said in Mortalium Animos

“Everyone knows that John himself, the Apostle of love, who seems to reveal in his Gospel the secrets of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and who never ceased to impress on the memories of his followers the new commandment ‘Love one another,’ altogether forbade any intercourse with those who professed a mutilated and corrupt form of Christ’s teaching: ‘If any man come to you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him: God speed you’ (II John 10).”

What do you make of that? It sounds like pretty clear teaching.


Thank you Kei, that’s a good point. Imagine if back in the reformation times Catholics were encouraged to go to Protestant churches, so long as they didn’t take communion. Things have changed, but the doctrine Protestants hold haven’t changed all that fundamentally.


The attacks were based on misunderstandings and simple ignorance of what Catholics believe. One of the elders there who preaches went on about how we worship Mary and whatnot, and they discouraged me from making the sign of the cross when I ate with them after the service.

If it were true things that bad Catholics did I wouldn’t have so much of a problem, it’s when you represent what Catholics believe falsely, that is what gets me.


If your conscience so clearly says you shouldn’t go, don’t. It’s as easy as that.
The church has always supported those who think different because of their conscience, even if that thinking could be wrong (I’m not saying you are necessarily wrong on this).


I’m sorry to hear that, but how did he make jabs at non-Catholics? Sometimes priests say true things about non-Catholics, which could be taken as a jab, when it’s simply the plain truth. There are others priests who may say untrue things about Protestantism, which is wrong of course.


Thank you, I want to inform my conscience as best as I can, and see what other’s knowledge and experience is with this kind of thing. I did some more research and it looks somewhere in between going once with the intention of not making it habit would be permissible, but if there is no pressing reason to go, I had better not.

If just doing what my wife and her in-laws would prefer is the measure of charity though, I might be regarded as being uncharitable. I want to please them, but also my conscience is uneasy with the whole idea. It’s not an easy decision.


As a Protestant, I have gone to Catholic Mass to fulfill various family obligations and/or weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc.

I, obviously stay in my seat when everyone goes up to take the Eucharist.

On one occasion, we were in the front row because it was my father-in-law’s funeral (long story as to why he had a Catholic funeral in a Catholic church when he was no longer Catholic) but so as not to make a scene… our family (most of us in the front) went in the line for the Eucharist, but simply crossed our arms in front of our chests when we got up to the priest.

I think you should love your family and go… When you discuss your differences, do it charitably. Politely push back if her family is saying that you worship statues or worship Mary, etc.


What would be an example?


Well I’ve heard priests say there is no such thing as the Protestant faith. As there are thousands of kinds of Protestantism, each kind has some true things mixed up with its own particular errors. Perhaps saying that as a religion all Protestant sects are wrong could be taken as a jab.


Thank you, and I certainly wish it would be as easy as just go and then discuss with them our differences in a charitable manner, but just being there to say hello to people seems like a poor reason.

My wife said flat out she doesn’t want to go for the worship service, only to say hello to her parent’s friends and people she knows there.


Well, I guess I would take that as a subtle shot…I mean telling a person that the church they grew up in doesn’t actually exist.

Most recently the priest has made sure to point out that non-Catholics are not your equal and that the individuals of other denominations are most flawed. You may see that as “just the plain truth” but it is a jab at those who are not Catholic.

Yet I still put on my happy face and go to church with my wife and kids when they go. Do I really want…or need to go to church to be told how I’m an “incomplete” or “flawed” Christian…no…but I go for my family.


Is it possible attending the church is not your only option? I mean, I suspect her parents just want to see their grandchildren and your wife wants to respect her parents wishes? Could you meet after services for brunch or have regularly calendared dates to sit down and eat Sunday dinner together, sharing the meal — your house, their house? (ie every 3rd Sunday — I made that up — but some date everyone saves on their calendar and can plan for?) I know it all depends on the logistics of which I am unaware but I don’t think “the plan” is to have your family’s butts in their pews…period… end of story …no questions asked… just go with the program. I think if you can broaden it out a little, there may be other (equally acceptable and) mutually agreeable solutions to your dilemma. Sunday dinner appeals to me (personally) because so few take the time to sit down at a table together as a family … it also gives all of you the opportunity to share information and ask you questions … it’s highly possible the grandparents have asked “catholic” questions your wife wasn’t able to answer (which may have them worried as they keep running it over and over in their minds). Providing a venue to mutually share information (if that’s what they want)…for them to ask you things and for you to ask them, as well as sharing a family atmosphere may work better than hassling over who’s going to what service when – which is like a chasing a ball down hill – it’s just never going to end and the expectation is for you to run faster and faster! Just a thought. :slight_smile:


The problem is that in every church, in every time, Catholic or Protestant, there have always been good and bad members. Pointing out bad Catholics or Protestants doesn’t prove or disprove a particular church’s teachings. I think it would be better for all if Priests just taught the faith and didn’t get into the sins of Protestants.

I would say that your particular church didn’t exist, I think what that priest is saying is that there is no “one” Protestant faith, because they are so various.

Whether there is equality, I think as far as human dignity is concerned we are equal. But we are not all equal in what gifts we have been given, in terms of teaching and tradition. We have been given a greater depth and breadth, from Saints, Popes, and Holy Traditions which have been passed on since the first Christians.

This makes sense because the Catholic Church is much older and more widespread that any particular local denomination.

The Catholic Church does say they have the fullness of the faith, because the reformers did away with a large chunk of tradition, a large chunk of what the Apostles handed on to us up until that time.

There is a greater fullness, if you ever read the writings of the Saints and the Popes and Theologians through the centuries, all showing how God can work through his Church if we cooperate.


That’s a good point, eventually if I go, I know that like in the past, they will expect me to go more and more often. It’s only natural but I don’t want to start that ball rolling.

Your suggestion is basically my suggestion to my wife, can’t we meet somewhere else? She basically says all of them meet there and are never in the same place at the same time, and her parents want to show off their grandchildren to their friends.

They think it is the best way to meet with friends. It is more a social thing than a religious thing, but to me, that would be the reason you go to the church.


Sunday brunch right after the service may be a good option … expand the circle … invite friends, too if that is the issue … but y’know… I kind of think it isn’t. I think they are constructing a “box” setting up criterion that “can only be met” by you going to church. Not fair … if you can gently persuade them… emphasizing you LIKE the idea of having more together family time for sharing and discussion (vs. all the time by their suggestion is kind of used-up by being present in the service). I mean is it more important to them to just “see” you at church and have their freinds see your family vs. having time to actually engage with you and expand the contact time with you and your children?? That doesn’t sound quite right to me, does it?


Exactly, it is not like we are talking or sharing our lives or spending time with one another, we are just sitting in a building listening to a minister or elders preach.

The actual greeting part only happens before and after church anyhow.

I think you are right and I like how you phrased that

I think they are constructing a “box” setting up criterion that “can only be met” by you going to church

It is similar to what others have been saying.

If you love your wife and her family, then go to the protestant church. But the logical conclusion of that is:

If I don’t go, I don’t love my wife.

I do love my wife and would do nearly anything for her (within reason), but I don’t think it is reasonable to go to church only to greet people, show your face, and show off your family.

That’s what I am getting at.

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